Call it a Wild selection for Brett Bulmer.
Discovering that Minnesota’s National Hockey League team drafted him 39th overall likely wasn’t the biggest surprise that came his way Saturday morning. Bulmer, an 18-year-old Prince George minor hockey product, didn’t spot his name on a monitor immediately after his selection at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Instead, the computer he was staring at froze.
Passing the news along to Bulmer was Toronto-based agent Craig Oster. He received the call at his Prince George home before he saw his name beside the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild wasn’t one of the select couple of organizations Bulmer had been in close contact with.
“But I had a good meeting with them at the combine and I’m glad they selected me,” he said.
Bulmer, a rookie forward on the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets this past season, said he found out he became property of the Wild around 10:20 a.m. At home to celebrate the occasion were father Lance, mother Sharon and his two brothers, 15-year-old Derek and 20-year-old Kyle. Other relatives and friends joined Bulmer on Saturday.
A prospect whose draft stock rose throughout the 2009-10 season, Bulmer was ranked 65th by Central Scouting Services in its final rankings of top North American skaters eligible for the draft, held Friday and Saturday at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.
Bulmer finished his first WHL campaign with regular-season totals of 13 goals and 27 assists for 40 points in 65 games. He also recorded 95 penalty minutes. In 12 playoff contests, he tallied three goals and two assists.
Listed at six-foot-two and 175 pounds, Bulmer attributed a slow start in the WHL to nerves. He attributed his rise up the Central Scouting charts to steady improvement and gaining more confidence.
“I think just coming in as a rookie, you’re kind of learning the league a bit,” he said. “Once I got comfortable and ready to go in the league, I kind of took off from there, I guess.”
His 2009-10 WHL season is reflective of his hockey career so far. A late bloomer, Bulmer was five-foot-seven during his bantam draft year and wasn’t taken until the 11th round. A big factor in Bulmer’s progression was the Cariboo Cougars, the Prince George-based BC Hockey Major Midget League squad he suited up for from 2007 to 2009.
“It’s a great league for young players to get developed and I thought that it helped me a lot,” he said.
With his selection, Bulmer became the second Prince George minor hockey product selected in the top 40. Eighteen-year-old Prince George Cougars forward Brett Connolly was selected sixth overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning (see other story).
Bulmer and Connolly, teammates on the 2007-08 provincial championship-winning Cariboo Cougars, were text messaging each other back and forth during the draft.
Bulmer hopes to make the Wild roster with a solid training camp in two months. If he doesn’t make the cut, he’ll return to Kelowna.
He said he’ll be working on his strength and maturity.
“You’re going to be playing with adults up there so just get physically stronger, I guess.”