TRURO, N.S. – Jared McIsaac will have a contingent of about 30 family members and close friends accompany him to the NHL entry draft this weekend in Dallas.
There will be a notable absence, however.
“It sucks that my grandmother Joan won’t be there to witness that,” said McIsaac, 18. “But the rest of my family will be there and that’s pretty special to me.”
McIsaac’s grandmother passed away in November of 2012. He said Joan McIsaac was a special lady and one of his biggest fans during his minor hockey playing days. He said she, along with his grandfather Bill, rarely missed a game and was always there to provide love and support.
“All the sacrifices she made for me, she would do it all over again, I’m sure, and the family definitely misses her.”
McIsaac, a defenceman for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, is expected to be chosen in the first or second round. Central Scouting has the six-foot-one, 187-pound Truro native listed 13th among North American skaters eligible for the draft, which will be Friday and Saturday at American Airlines Centre, home of the Dallas Stars.
McIsaac grew up playing minor hockey in Truro before his family moved to Dartmouth in 2013. He played major midget in Cole Harbour and was the second-overall pick in the 2016 Quebec major junior league draft. He has starred for the Mooseheads for the past two seasons, and has also represented Canada at two world under-18 championships.
Two weeks ago, McIsaac attended the NHL Combine in Buffalo, where 104 draft-eligible players performed a series of fitness tests. In the week leading up to fitness testing, McIsaac had interviews with 27 of 31 NHL teams.
“I’m really happy with the way that went and obviously the testing, too,” he said. “I’ve been training pretty hard in Halifax for the month leading up to the Combine and kind of showed what I could do physically. But I think the biggest thing for me was to just enjoy it. It was a really cool experience.”
The first round of the NHL draft will take place Friday evening, while the remainder will play out on Saturday.
Among family members making the trek to the Lone Star State with McIsaac are his parents Jamie and Sandra; sister Jordan; grandparents Bill McIsaac, and Harold and Helen Barkhouse; and his uncle Jon, who works as an NHL referee.
McIsaac looks to become the first defenceman from Nova Scotia taken in the first round of the draft since Port Hood’s Al MacInnis was selected 15th overall by the Calgary Flames in 1981.
“I think it’s going to be pretty surreal to hopefully put on the jersey, whether it’s Friday night or Saturday morning,” he said. “It’s going to be a pretty special feeling and to know that you’re one step closer to having that dream come true.”
When his name is called to stage, McIsaac said he will be thinking of his grandmother, Joan, knowing how thrilled she is that her grandson achieved his goal.
“I know she’s been following me,” he said. “I think it’s going to be cool Friday and Saturday knowing that she’s watching, and she’ll have a big smile on her face.”