For months, the refrain was familiar.

“I don’t want to deal with it right now,” Eric Gelinas said, day after day to inquiries about his status for the NHL Draft. “My concern right now is this season, and the Lewiston Maineiacs.”

On the eve of one of the most important days of his young life, with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season long over, Gelinas tune has changed.

“You can’t believe how much I’m thinking about it right now,” Gelinas said this week. “I held myself off thinking about it for so long that now I’m letting myself go. I’m so anxious to see where I’m going and when I’m gonna get drafted. Lots of people are asking, ‘Are you nervous?’ I don’t think I’m nervous, I just waited for so long in my life for this moment, I just can’t believe that it’s happening this weekend.”

Gelinas, a towering defenseman, is one of four highly-touted QMJHL defensemen at this year’s NHL Draft. He’s rated No. 38 among North American skaters by Central Scouting, and has been the subject of rumors for many teams selecting in the late first to early second rounds of the seven-round draft, which begins Friday night in Montreal.

“Having the draft close like this is really fun because all my family can be there,” Gelinas said. “It’s also special because I’m home, I always went to this huge rink (the Bell Centre) and watched the game with my dad and brother while dreaming of playing in the NHL. Now after being drafted, I’ll be one step closer. I’m just living the dream and loving it.”

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Gelinas isn’t so worried about the so-called draft jinx, either. In many instances, players return from the NHL draft to the junior ranks with extra emotional baggage. Gelinas is determined not to let that happen.

“I think the draft will help me mature even more and I will use this experience to help the others.” Gelinas said. “I will just use this step as a push in the back and say, ‘Hey, i’m not that far away from the NHL, I can make it, I have to make the sacrifice to make it, I’ll just give all I have to take my chance of making it.’ If this experience will make me change, it will be for the good for sure.”

As for any special vibes Gelinas might be getting from any particular teams, he said Wednesday that as many as 25 teams have spoken with him, but one in particular has paid special attention.

“I think the best interview I had was with the Minnesota Wild,” Gelinas said. “It went really well and I felt that everyone was really paying attention to what I was saying. Also, Guy Lapointe, the head scout, and I had a friendly conversation after the testing day in Toronto. He just wanted to know how it went and how the experience was and stuff. I thought it was very kind of him.”

Gelinas isn’t the only player with local ties holding his breath this weekend.

Former Biddeford High School standout Brian Dumoulin, who will attend Boston College this fall on a hockey scholarship, is rated at No. 61 by CSS.

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And John Moore, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 190-pound defefenseman from Winnetka, Ill. slated to go in the top 10 in Friday’s first round has ties to the area, as well. Moore’s grandfather was former Maine Governor James Longley, though he spent his entire childhood in Illinois.

“My father was my first coach in youth hockey,” Moore told NHL.com this week. “We lost in the championship game of the house league that year, and I still give him a hard time, that he was out-coached.”

Moore played last season for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League, alongside local product Mark Anthoine, who’s committed to the University of Maine. Moore was fourth among the league’s defensemen with 49 points last seaosn, and is planning to attend Colorado College in the fall.

The first round of the draft is Friday night at 7 p.m., and will be televised on Versus, with rounds 2 through 7 beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The later rounds will be televised on the NHL Network.


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