It was well worth the wait for Eric Gelinas.
The Lewiston Maineiacs’ towering defenseman — now officially listed at 6-feet, 4-inches and 185 pounds — fidgeted and tapped his feet for most of the night Friday as NHL teams called 30 players to the podium with all of the pomp and circumstance anyone would expect of a major league draft in the league’s birth city.
“It was a long first round,” Gelinas said. “It took forever.”
Then, he got to sleep on it.
“Actually, because it took so long, it was such a long day, I was asleep in like two seconds,” Gelinas said. “It wasn’t hard after that.”
About a half hour into Saturday’s second round at the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal, 24 picks after it began, Gelinas’ wait was over.
The New Jersey Devils, a steady organization with a solid reputation for developing young prospects and bringing them into the fold with the big club, selected Gelinas with the 54th overall pick, 24th in the second round.
“They’re a great organization; they are solid,” Gelinas said. “They are always in the playoffs.”
Gelinas was on hand Saturday, with the draft basically in his backyard. Now living in St. Jean sur Richelieu, on the south shore of Montreal, Gelinas said he had “20 or 21 people” with him.
“I don’t know exactly, there were a lot,” he said.
Maineiacs’ president and head coach Don MacAdam was also on hand Saturday with several members of the team’s front office, in support of the young defensemen.
MacAdam, who has coached and scouted at nearly every level of North American professional hockey, said Gelinas’ selection, where he went and to whom, made sense.
“Eric’s potential is endless,” MacAdam said. “In talking to all these NHL teams about him, the No. 1 reason he has such a tremendous upside is his attitude. He really cares about what he does and his ability to get better.”
Gelinas was the second QMJHL player taken in the second round Saturday, and sixth overall. Dmitry Kulikov of Drummondville was the top QMJHL player selected at No. 14 overall by Florida. Jordan Caron of Rimouski went at No. 25 to the Boston Bruins, Shawinigan’s Philippe Paradis punched his ticket at No. 27 (Carolina), and the Pittsburgh Penguins rounded out the first day of the draft by taking Simon Despres of the Saint John Sea Dogs. Charles-Olivier Roussel of Shawinigan gave the Cataractes two early draft picks when he was selected No. 42 overall by Nashville in Round 2.
“The first round was almost over, so I had started thinking about (Saturday) a little bit,” Caron told Friday night. “I’m very happy the Bruins picked me.”
Just three places and five minutes before Gelinas’ name echoed through the Bell Centre, another locally familiar name did the same: Biddeford’s Brian Dumoulin.
Dumoulin, who helped the Tigers to a pair of state hockey championships in 2007 and 2008, played last season for the Manchester Junior Monarchs of the EJHL, and will play next season at Boston College. The Carolina Hurricanes picked the tall defenseman 21st in the second round, 51st overall, making him the second-highest drafted Mainer in NHL draft history behind Eric Weinrich, who went at No. 32 overall in 1985.
On Day 1, John Moore, the grandson of former Maine Governor James Longley, was a first-round selection, taken at No. 21 by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Maineiacs’ staff is right back to work this week, too, with the 2009 CHL Import Draft slated for Tuesday. Lewiston is expected to select two players.

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