Draft disappointment won’t deter Gardiner

Perry Bergson
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Reid Gardiner, shown in action against Red Deer last season, went unpicked at the NHL draft on Saturday. He’s determined to open some eyes next season.

For Reid Gardiner, a season filled with optimism ended with disappointment at the NHL draft on Saturday.

The Prince Albert Raiders forward, who had been projected to go as high as the second round, ultimately went undrafted.

He admits that it was a disappointment.

“It’s kind of a shock,” he said. “But there’s nothing that I can do about it now.”

Gardiner will now re-enter the draft next year.

“I definitely think that it will be a big motivating factor to work hard every time in the gym and every time that I skate in the off-season,” Gardiner says. “I think when I come into camp I’m going to be in very good shape and have a good mindset and be ready to prove some people wrong.”

The 5’11”, 185-pound centre from Humboldt was listed as a potential fourth to sixth round pick in NHL Central Scouting’s initial rankings. He rose to 40th among North American skaters in the mid-term rankings and finished the year in 29th.

A 19-game goal-scoring drought that stretched from mid-December to the start of February didn’t help. After pouring in seven goals in September, four in October and seven in November, Gardiner scored just three times the rest of the season.

It’s a story of missed nets, goalposts and great saves.

“It’s kind of in the back of my mind, I guess,” he says. “If I have anything to think back and look upon in a negative way, it definitely would have been my second half of the year. I don’t know if it played a part (in not getting drafted) but it definitely could of. I’ll be regretting that for a long time.”

It didn’t help that Gardiner played from mid-February with a minor separation of his shoulder.

“I thought throughout the year I contributed, even if I wasn’t scoring, in all three zones,” he said. “I thought I took another good step in becoming a good hockey player in the Western Hockey League. I thought in my second year I wanted to be more of a vocal leader and a leader that the guys can look upon to provide some leadership qualities.”

Even with the goal-scoring slump, Gardiner had 22 goals and 22 assists in 70 games with 39 penalty minutes.

In his 16-year-old season, he overcame a broken wrist to post seven goals and 13 assists in 54 games. He had 28 penalty minutes.

Gardiner says he thought he made a big improvement from season to season. And he’s determined to do it again.

“I really want to take another big step in my development and I definitely think I can do that coming in as an 18-year-old,” he says. “I think I can be a huge part of the team.”

While Gardiner admits the sting of not being drafted hurts, he’s looking forward to returning to Prince Albert for his third season.

He won’t be lacking motivation.

“I’m excited for next year; I’m already thinking about coming back to P.A. and starting another season. I can’t wait to get back and play with the Raiders again.”

Organizations: NHL, North American, Western Hockey League Prince Albert Raiders

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