Ten 'Tobans make grade

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:37 AM ET

At a time when most athletes can't wait to enter the draft, Joe Barnes chose to opt out.

A year ago, after a disappointing season with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, Barnes decided not to enter the NHL entry draft as an 18-year-old.

Yesterday, Barnes' decision was rewarded when the Carolina Hurricanes chose him in the third round, 64th overall.

"I wouldn't have went this high (in 2004), I'm happy I made the decision and was really focused last year," said Barnes, who had 30 goals, 62 points and 73 penalty minutes in 72 games with the Blades last season. "I never talked to Carolina so it was a bit of a shock, but I'm really excited to go where I went. I was excited and nervous, I didn't sleep a whole lot (Friday) night. I've been waiting for this for a while."

Barnes, who fractured his neck in two places during the 2003 Canada Winter Games after he was checked from behind and went into the boards head-first, watched the first round of the draft on TV at his home in Winnipeg and then kept a close eye on the proceedings via the internet.

Things got off to an exciting start for Barnes, when linemate Devin Setoguchi was chosen eighth overall by the San Jose Sharks.

Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford was excited to get Barnes in the third round.

"We had good reports on him and when you look at his numbers, they're as good as some guys who went in the first round," Rutherford said in a telephone interview from Ottawa. "We're aware of his history with his injury, but we like his size and skating. We think he's a solid prospect. We project him out to be a good player with a chance to play (in the NHL)."

Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Tyler Plante, who was born in Milwaukee, Wisc. but lived in Brandon the past few years, went to the Florida Panthers with the 32nd overall pick.

"Actually, I was watching Sidney Crosby's interview after the first round and saw my name appear in the background," said Plante, who watched the draft at his grandparents house in Brandon. "I wasn't expecting to go that high, but that's what happens with goalies, you never know where you're going to fit in. It's a great situation, especially getting to work with Roberto Luongo, who happened to be my favourite goalie in the first place. He's a great goaltender."

After Barnes went to Carolina, left-winger Brodie Dupont of Russell (Calgary Hitmen) went 66th to the New York Rangers, defenceman Gord Baldwin of Winnipeg (Medicine Hat Tigers) went 69th to the Calgary Flames and defenceman Dalyn Flatt of Teulon (Saskatoon Blades) went 77th to the Rangers.

"I was ecstatic, the Rangers are a very prestigious organization and this is a great opportunity for me," said Flatt, who along with Dupont is a former member of the Swan Valley Stampeders of the MJHL. "Of course, it's a little disappointing (to not be in Ottawa). I would have loved to walk up on stage to get my jersey, but at least I got to spend it with family and friends."

In the fifth round, 132nd overall, the Detroit Red Wings chose forward Darren Helm of Winnipeg (Medicine Hat Tigers), defenceman Brennan Turner of Winnipeg (Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League) went to the Chicago Blackhawks two picks later and right-winger Ryan Reaves (Brandon Wheat Kings) went 156th overall to the St. Louis Blues. Defenceman Myles Stoesz of Steinbach (Spokane Chiefs) was selected 207th overall by the Atlanta Thrashers.

The final Manitoban taken, 221st overall by the Calgary Flames, was Winnipeg's Myles Rumsey (Swift Current Broncos). The defenceman formerly played for the Winnipeg South Blues.


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