After completing their work at the rink Oct. 7, Matteo Costantini and four of his Penticton Vees teammates gathered in his billet family’s basement to watch the final rounds of the NHL Draft.
Having starred for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres and developed in the Academy of Hockey at LECOM Harborcenter, Costantini knew the Sabres were interested in him.
Sabres GM Kevyn Adams ran both organizations until last year. Matt Ellis, Buffalo’s new director of player development, worked closely with Adams at Harborcenter before replacing him. The Sabres also scouted Costantini regularly last season.
“The fifth round came around and Buffalo’s pick showed up,” said Costantini, a center the Sabres drafted 131st overall. “I saw my name pop up on the screen, I was like, ‘This is crazy, right?’ It was an unreal feeling, and I got to share that moment with those guys, and that is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to hold the draft virtually, depriving Costantini a chance to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime moment by hugging his parents, Dino and Vesna, at the rink or in their St. Catharines, Ontario, home.
So Costantini, 18, experienced a unique draft celebration. His billet father is Scott Niedermayer, one of the most decorated defensemen in hockey history.
Niedermayer won four Stanley Cups, an Olympic Gold medal, the Norris Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy during his illustrious 18-year career. How many…