NHL dreams one step closer after Ottawa selects Burgess
Todd Burgess admitted he had pre-NHL Draft conversations with several NHL teams, but wasn’t sure what would come of it once the draft commenced June 24-25 in Buffalo, N.Y.
Ranked No. 185 in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, the 20-year-old Phoenix native didn’t attend the draft at the First Niagara Center, but was selected none the less when the Ottawa Senators called Burgess’ name in the fourth round with the 103rd overall pick.
“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet, but it’s a dream come true and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of a great organization like Ottawa,” said Burgess, who skated for the Jr. Coyotes program as a youth. “I owe so much to the coaches and staff in Fairbanks who have helped me develop to this point over the course of the past three seasons, and to cap it off with the Robertson Cup and being honored as the MVP of a great league like the North American Hockey League, was truly a dream season.”
Burgess led the NAHL with 95 points this past season and captained the Ice Dogs to the league’s national championship May 15 with a 2-0 win over the Wichita Falls Wildcats in Edina, Minn.
“I think the NAHL is a great and very underrated league that’s only getting better every year,” noted Burgess, who played three years for Fairbanks. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the coaches and staff in Fairbanks. They helped me grow as a hockey player and more importantly, as a person. There’s no other place I would have wanted to play my junior career.”
Next season, Burgess will hone his skills at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), an NCAA Division I school in the ECAC and located in Troy, N.Y.
Burgess said getting drafted doesn’t change the fact that he is committed to playing for RPI.
“Just going to try and get better every year and when or if Ottawa thinks I’m ready for that next step, I’ll make sure I’m ready,” said Burgess. “Being drafted doesn’t change anything with RPI.”
“Congratulations to Todd on this well-earned recognition,” added RPI head coach Seth Appert. “His work ethic and character were evident with the improvements he made while leading Fairbanks to another national championship. Our staff is looking forward to helping him continue that development on and off the ice at RPI.”
Ottawa amateur scout Bob Janecyk watched Burgess during the 2015-16 season and said Burgess made quite the positive impression.
“Todd Burgess is a 6-foot-3 skilled center who is a late developer,” said Janecyk. “He cracked his kneecap when he first went in to the North American Hockey League, so that set him back probably less than a year. He came back with a vengeance last year. He still needs strength. He’s a lean kid and I think last time I talked to him he was 182 pounds. I met the kid and he hasn’t even shaved yet, but his dad is a big man. His dad is 6-4 and 230 pounds, so that’s more of a projection on him.”
Burgess was one of two Arizona-raised and trained players after Scottsdale’s Auston Matthews went No. 1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s great, especially a first overall pick like Auston Matthews,” said Burgess. “Hockey in Arizona is only getting bigger and it’s fun to watch. I don’t know if it’s hit me yet, but I’m going to try and set the best example I can to motivate or encourage kids to help Arizona hockey improve.”
After going to Ottawa’s development camp in late June, Burgess has a realistic agenda the rest of the summer.
“Just a lot of training and skating so I can be an impact player heading into my freshman year of college,” said Burgess.
– Matt Mackinder