By Michael Caples -
PITTSBURGH – Matt DeBlouw admitted that the nerves were kicking in a little bit.
The Chesterfield native and Muskegon Lumberjacks alum was ranked 51st overall by NHL Central Scouting leading up to the Draft. Yet he ended up being selected by the Calgary Flames in the seventh and final round on Saturday.
The temporary scare didn’t faze the future Michigan State Spartan, however.
“I’m happy,” DeBlouw said while donning his new Flames sweater at his press conference. “I’m very thankful for everyone that’s been a part of this. Just kind of excited right now. The nerves were coming out, but it’s a good feeling. The hard work finally played off.”
DeBlouw, a center, said he was OK throughout the day because of the supportive people around him.
“It was a long day, but I had my family with me, and a lot of supporting people with me,” DeBlouw said. “I’m very thankful that it finally happened, and I’m happy with it.”
The 18-year-old has spent his entire hockey career in the state of Michigan. Yet he laughed and said “exactly” when it was pointed out that eventually he would have to leave the Mitten to continue his career.
“I played for Detroit Belle Tire and Detroit Little Caesars,” DeBlouw said. “I skated with those teams and then moved up, got drafted by Muskegon, which is in Michigan again, and they have a great program there, great development. I developed my game to be a young man, so I’m very thankful for that. Now I’m going to Michigan State – it’s been a nice journey of hockey in Michigan.”
For now, DeBlouw is focused on the next step in his hockey path – moving to East Lansing on July 2.
“There’s a new coach that came in last year, so his first recruiting class is this year,” DeBlouw said, referring to coach Tom Anastos. “There are a lot of freshmen coming in, so I have to prove myself. There’s a lot of spots to be fought for, so I think I can do that, and it’s a good opportunity for me.”
When asked what he brings to his new NHL club, DeBlouw described himself as a well-rounded forward.
“I’m a shutdown center that can shut down the top line,” DeBlouw said. “I’m a playmaker, but I can add that energy to the team.”
DeBlouw had 11 goals and 23 assists in 58 games with the Lumberjacks last season.