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NHL’s Vegas picks Primeau

VANCOUVER — The Vegas Golden Knights have placed a bet on Mason Primeau.

Vegas selected centre Primeau of the North Bay Battalion in the fifth round, 141st overall, of the National Hockey League Draft on Saturday at Rogers Arena.

Primeau, who turns 18 on July 28, scored 10 goals and earned 16 assists for 26 points in 49 games with North Bay last season after an Ontario Hockey League trade from the Guelph Storm. He had three goals and four assists for seven points in 20 games with Guelph before joining the Battalion on Nov. 15 for two second-round picks in the OHL Priority Selection.

A six-foot-five, 203-pound resident of Toronto, Primeau was a second-round selection, 22nd overall, by Guelph in 2017 from the Toronto Nationals minor midgets. He had seven goals and six assists for 13 points in 60 games in his rookie season with the Storm.

The son of onetime NHLer Wayne Primeau scored one goal and added two assists for three points in five Battalion playoff games last season.

Primeau was rated 113th among North American-based skaters in the final rankings issued by the NHL’s central scouting department. Given the list of European-based skaters and two lists of goaltenders, his actual draft position is a distinct upgrade and speaks to the Golden Knights’ evaluation of him.

Primeau is the first member of the Battalion to be selected in the NHL Draft since 2016, when defencemen Cam Dineen and Mark Shoemaker and centre Brett McKenzie were taken. The franchise has accounted for 44 selections, including rearguard Paul Flache twice, since 1999.

The first round was conducted Friday night before six more rounds completed the process Saturday. The 31 clubs selected a total of 217 skaters and goaltenders.

Twenty-five OHLers were taken, the first being defenceman Thomas Harley of the Mississauga Steelheads, who went 18th overall to the Dallas Stars as one of four picks from the OHL in the opening round.

The Western Hockey League generated 28 draftees and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League 18, giving the Canadian Hockey League a total of 71.

Players are first-time eligible for the NHL Draft in the year they turn 18, unless they are born after Sept. 15, in which case they must wait until the following year.

The Buffalo Sabres selected Wayne Primeau, also a centre, in the first round, 17th overall, of the 1994 draft from the OHL’s Owen Sound Platers. He went on to play 774 NHL games, culminating with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009-10.

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