Predators Pounce on Prospect

By Laurence Heinen

Despite his immense talent, Brandon Segal has had a history of being
overlooked.

That trend continued during the first three rounds of the National
Hockey League Entry Draft in Toronto last Saturday (June 22).

Segal sat in the stands at the Air Canada Centre and listened as 96
teams chose not to pick him. On the second day of the draft, the
Nashville Predators finally selected the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Calgary
Hitman forward in the fourth round, 102nd overall.

“It’s a great moment right now,” said the North Delta resident. “I’ve
waited all my life for this. I’m very happy to be part of the
Nashville Predators.”

Segal actually opted into the draft last season as an 18-year-old and
expected to be a late round pick. After not being selected, the bang-
and-crash-type right winger made it his goal to prove to every team
that passed on him that they made a mistake.

“I just had to work extra hard,” Segal said. “I came out with a
vengeance and I wanted to show them that I should have been picked
last year. Right now, it’s just a great feeling – just all the hard
work I had to put through my whole life. It’s just a great moment for
me and my family.”

Accompanying him to the draft were his dad Garry, mom Cathy and older
sisters Lindsay and Shannon along with his agent Brent Breeze, who
believes his client has what it takes to make the jump to play
professional hockey.

“I think that his determination, his character, his leadership is
what’s going to take him to the next level,” Breeze said. “He’s
already got the skill, he already has the knowledge of the game (and)
he has an unbelievable shot, but he’s a good kid and he wants to play
and he wants it bad. That in itself is what’s going to get him to the
show.”

And Segal has already proven that he’s a winner. In his final year of
minor hockey in 1998-99, he helped lead his North Delta Bantam AAA
Sundevils to a provincial title as well as a Western Canada Bantam
Championship.

Despite Segal’s success, scouts didn’t invite him to the B.C. Amateur
Hockey Association high-performance camp that summer in Osoyoos.

“I was disappointed at the time, but I wasn’t too disappointed,” he
said.

Instead, the BCAHA chose another player named Brandon Segal (yes, same
name, same spelling, but no relation), who hails from South Delta.
That Brandon Segal went on to help Team Pacific win a bronze medal at
the 2000 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ont.

If it sounds confusing, you’re not the only ones who think that way.
Under Segal’s personal profile in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft Media
Guide, it was listed that he played as a defenceman at the Under-17
World Hockey Challenge, when in fact it was the other Brandon
Segal.

Despite the oversight, Segal went on to crack Calgary’s lineup as a 16-
year-old and had the chance to play at the Memorial Cup in
Ottawa.

“When you’re a 16-year-old in your first Major Junior year, you have
to pay your dues no matter what,” Breeze said. “For the opportunities
that were given to him, he did extremely well.”

After recording eight points in 44 games as a WHL rookie, Segal put up
16 goals and added 11 assists in 72 games for the Hitmen in the 2000-
01 campaign, which apparently weren’t good enough numbers for him to
be chosen in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft hosted by the Florida
Panthers.

Following the draft, the Detroit Red Wings invited Segal to their
camp, where he competed against players which went on to win the
Stanley Cup earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Segal went back to Calgary where he proceeded to put up 43
goals and 40 assists in 71 games for the Hitmen. Despite not being an
original selection for either mid-season event, Segal was named to
play at the Canadian Hockey League’s Top Prospects Game in Saskatoon
and the Hershey Cup All-Star Series game in Red Deer.

After the season, the 18-year-old forward, who will turn 19 on July
12, was named to Canada’s National Junior Team’s Development Camp from
Aug. 1-10 in Halifax, N.S.

Like the other 44 players at camp, Segal hopes to impress head coach
Marc Habscheid enough to earn one of 30 invitation back to the
December training camp and ultimately play for Canada at the 2003
World Junior Hockey Championships in Halifax, which start on Boxing
Day.

“When I heard the news, I was pretty pumped,” Segal said of being
invited to camp. “It’s one step closer to putting that jersey on for
that tournament.”

Now that he’s been drafted by Nashville, he’ll turn his attentions to
training for both the World Junior camp as well as the Predators’ pre-
season camp.

“It’s a long run right now,” he said. “I’ve got a couple months before
the Team Canada camp. I’ve got to go into high gear.”

When he goes to the Nashville camp, he’ll definitely see some familiar
faces including a trio of first round picks from the WHL – Scott
Hartnell from the Prince Albert Raiders in 2000, Dan Hamhuis from the
Prince George Cougars in 2001 and Scottie Upshall from the Kamloops
Blazers this past year.

“It’s going to pretty exciting when we go to camp. It’s cool.”

For more stories on the 2002 NHL Entry Draft in Toronto watch for the
July 20th edition of Hockey Now including features on the top two B.C.
players chosen at the draft – Fernie goaltender David Leneveau (46th
overall to the Phoenix Coyotes) from Cornell University and Penticton
defenceman Duncan Keith (54th overall to the Chicago Blackhawks) from
Michigan State University – as well as a story on first round pick
Scottie Upshall of the Kamloops Blazers.

Laurence Heinen is the Managing Editor of Hockey Now

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