Goalie a popular pick

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- From the roar of the crowd, you'd have guessed Leland Irving's name was called by the hometown Vancouver Canucks.

The cheering section was filled with fans who'd travelled from Everett, Wash., to wish their boys all the best on the greatest day of their young lives. The eruption when Irving was chosen 26th overall by the Calgary Flames was nearly deafening.

"It's amazing the fans in Everett. It's developed into a real hockey town," the 18-year-old goaltender from Swan Hills said. "They're here supporting all us guys. It feels good."

Four players from the Silvertips went in the draft: Peter Mueller (8th overall), Ondrej Fiala (40th), Brady Calla (73rd) and Irving.

Curiously, Irving admitted growing up a Canucks fan, a strange development for a youngster living in Alberta.

"A Kirk McLean fan," he said. "I stuck with them but if the Flames were in the playoffs making their run like they were a couple of years ago, they were the team I was cheering for."

And will cheer for perpetually.

"I'm really excited. The Flames organization has shown they've put together some excellent teams. They've got a great organization. I'm looking forward to what's ahead of me," he said.

"It's an extra bonus (being an Alberta team) that makes it that much sweeter. It's pretty close to home, so I'm really looking forward to it."

As Everett's nominee for the league MVP award, Irving was named best goaltender at the CHL Top Prospects Game and posted a 1.92 GAA in 67 games.

Flames GM Darryl Sutter said the selection was based on long-term needs, with it well known players drafted in the late first round wouldn't be pegged to make an immediate impact at the NHL level.

"Best player available is the way we look at it," Sutter said. "I've seen him play lots. He's a good, top, young goalie ... It was about needs. We took two goalies last year and we'll continue to do that. It's not just about today, it's about tomorrow.

"I'm really happy to get him where we did."

ICE CHIPS: The Flames also selected C/RW John Armstrong, 87th (Plymouth, OHL; 65 GP 14-23-37 75 PIM), F Aaron Marvin, 89th (Warroad HS Minnesota; 23 GP 9-21-30 40 PIM), C Hugo Carpentier, 118th (Rouyn Noranda, QMJHL; 70 GP 31-39-70 64 PIM), RW Juuso Puustinen, 149th (Kalpa, Finland Jr.; 29 GP 9-5-14 46 PIM), C Jordan Fulton, 179th (Beck HS Minnesota; 26 GP 40-34-74 34 PIM), LW Devin Didiomete, 187th (Sudbury, OHL; 60 GP 15-21-36 202 PIM), D Per Jonsson, 209th (Farjestad Jr.; 14 GP 3-1-4 38 PIM) ... Darryl Sutter's take on Vancouver's big trade Friday night, which saw Todd Bertuzzi dealt from the Canucks to Florida for Roberto Luongo. "I think it's really good for Todd just to move to a different environment because he's a great player. Say what you want, he's a great player and every time you played Vancouver, he was a guy you played special attention to. He was hard for our players to play against" ... Hitmen forward Ryan White fell to the 66th pick overall but stays in Canada with Montreal.


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