Waiting game wears on Wolski

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:19 PM ET

Wojtek Wolski waited, watched and quietly stewed.

Projected by some as a top 15 pick in yesterday's NHL entry draft, the Brampton Battalion forward gritted his teeth as player after player trotted to the podium before him.

After more than an hour of sitting patiently in the stands at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., his name finally was called out by the Colorado Avalanche at No. 21.

Speculation immediately spread that Wolski's recent off-ice problems -- he was charged by Toronto police on June 8 with assault causing bodily harm after an incident at a Toronto house party -- may have caused his stock to drop.

"I can't think too much about that," Wolski said. "It might have (played a role), I'm not really sure. But I've done nothing wrong and I think the Avs understand that.

"I don't want to comment. Teams did ask about it but there is another side to the story than the one in the newspaper."

Wolski was referring to a column outlining the incident, written by the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons last week.

Maple Leafs development coach and scouting coordinator Paul Dennis rejected the notion that Wolski's legal issues caused teams to shy away from him.

"Anyone that did their homework knows this is a kid of character," Dennis said.

SOURCE OF IRRITATION

In any event, having 20 players picked ahead of him certainly was a source of irritation for the skilled forward, who scored 70 points in 66 games with Brampton.

"You have an expectation about where you might be selected and when that doesn't happen you get a little bitter," Wolski said. "But getting picked by the Avs makes your emotions go from one side of the spectrum to the other. Having your name called by the Avs is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

"One of the first NHL games I ever went to was the Avs and the Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens."

The first Toronto-born player selected was London Knights forward Dave Bolland, who went 32nd to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Meanwhile, Mississauga IceDogs goaltender David Shantz and St. Mike's Majors goalie Justin Peters were picked back-to-back early in the second round. Shantz went 37th to the Florida Panthers while Peters was plucked 38th by the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I've been playing against Justin since we were in pee wee so it was neat we were selected like that," Shantz said.

Shantz, a native of the Hamilton area, is a contender for the No. 1 job on Canada's national junior team.

"There are no goalies returning from last year so the door is open," he said.


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