Nic Kerdiles, drafted 36th overall by the Ducks, poses for a portrait during… (Jamie Sabau / Getty Images )
Eventually, you knew it would happen.
Some 9-year-old boy from Orange County who started going to hockey games in Anaheim would grow up, turn into a legitimate prospect and get drafted by the Ducks.
Saturday was that day.
The Ducks made it happen at the NHL’s Entry Draft in the second round at Pittsburgh, taking left wing Nic Kerdiles of Irvine at No. 36, the first time they drafted a player raised in Orange County.
Kerdiles, heading into his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, not only attended Ducks games in their Stanley Cup run in 2007 but managed to go to Kings’ playoff games, including two games in the Final this year against New Jersey, Games 3 and 6.
The 18-year-old, who was born in Texas and has a French father and French-Canadian mother, didn’t even hesitate when asked if he remembered his first Ducks game.
"I was 9 years old and I believe they played the Dallas Stars because I loved watching Mike Modano and he was one of my idols," Kerdiles said in a telephone interview from Pittsburgh. "That was a special day for me."
So was Saturday. He said it was hard sitting through the first round Friday, waiting and watching.
"I knew if I wasn’t going to go in the first round, there was a good chance that the Ducks would take me at 36. It worked out well for me," Kerdiles said.
It has been a remarkable rise for the kid who got his start playing roller hockey with his neighbors and progressed enough to get invited to skate with the likes of Cam Fowler, Bobby Ryan and George Parros in the last couple of years.
He led the U.S. National Under-18 squad with 20 goals and 42 points in 50 games and was a part of the gold-medal winning USA team in the 18-and-under world junior event the last two years. Kerdiles is 6 feet 2 and 201 pounds.
"Nick has a lot of physical attributes that make him an attractive player," said Wisconsin Coach Mike Eaves. "He’s a prototypical power forward. He has good feet in the corners and has a real knack in front of the net.
"He’s got a good shot. Offensively we’re looking for some real contributions from him right away as a freshman."
Kerdiles chuckled when asked if there were any hockey players in his family. "There’s really no background," he said.
OK, a very distant connection. Apparently, his mother’s uncle played for fun in Montreal.
"The Canadian blood in me," Kerdiles said.
Yes, the Orange County/Canadian/European blend was just enough Saturday.