SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Jeremy McKenna won’t let going undrafted deter him from his ultimate goal of playing professional hockey.
The 19-year-old Summerside native did not hear his name called Saturday during the final day of the NHL draft.
“Any time you get passed over it’s tough, but I am just going to use it as motivation,” he said Saturday night.
“Next season is big for me,” the Moncton Wildcats right-winger added. “I want to prove a lot of people wrong about what happened today.”
Shortly after the draft finished, McKenna was invited to the Arizona Coyotes development camp. He leaves Sunday for Arizona. His Wildcats teammate Mika Cyr and other prospects like Charlottetown Islanders captain Pierre-Olivier (P.O.) Joseph, who was the Coyotes first-round pick a year ago, will also be there.
“Obviously, it was really tough not hearing my name called, but at the end of the day I’m getting the same opportunity that a drafted player would get,” McKenna said. “I’m just looking forward to getting there and showcasing what I’ve got and just keep working towards what I am trying to do here.”
McKenna is encouraged by the increasing number of players who go undrafted but sign as free agents and have long professional careers.
“I’m going to keep working towards my goal, no matter what happens,” he said. “I know I can be a professional hockey player.”
McKenna has taken a professional approach to the disappointment of not being drafted. He said he has a strong support system in place and received lots of encouraging messages during the weekend.
“This is years in the making,” he said. “This is something I wanted my whole life. I am not going to let one little bump on the road define me. I am just going to keep putting my head down and keep working as hard as I can.”
McKenna tied for 11th in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring last season with 77 points in 68 games during his sophomore campaign. It essentially represented a tripling of his point total from his rookie season.