FAIRBANKS — Todd Burgess had been talking with a couple of teams entering the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
One of those teams was the Ottawa Senators, who took Burgess in the fourth round with the 103rd overall pick on Saturday at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York.
“It was obviously a dream come true,” Burgess said by cellphone. “I got to spend it with some really close friends and my family. It was a pretty special time for all of us. I couldn’t be happier at this point of my life.”
Burgess, a native of Peoria, Arizona, is the first Ice Dog to be drafted in the same year they played in Fairbanks.
“I couldn’t have done it without Trevor Stewart and Paul Kirtland and Scott Deur and Rob Proffitt,” Burgess said. “They did so much for me. They were loyal throughout my entire career in Fairbanks.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound right wing was ranked No. 185 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting entering the draft after not being ranked at the beginning of the season.
The Hockey News ranked Burgess as the No. 116 prospect in the draft in its final rankings.
“It was surreal. It’s unreal,” said Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt, who attended the draft. “All the emotions that come through you, it was unbelievable. I can’t even really put it into words.”
Burgess, who spent last season as a center for the Ice Dogs, said the Senators were one of the teams he had talked to the most since the Ice Dogs season ended.
“Any team would have been great, but I’m really excited to be part of such a good organization like the Senators,” Burgess said. “We’ll see what the future holds and I’m just trying to live it up in the moment right now.”
Burgess was one of five players drafted by the Senators, who went 38-35-9 last season, in the two-day draft that began with the first round on Friday.
All five draft picks are expected to attend the Senators development camp.
Rounds 2-7 of the draft took place on Saturday.
“Even when I called him on the phone, he was calm, cool and collected. I was jumping up and down like an 8-year-old at Disneyland,” Proffitt said. “He was calm and cool. That’s what make him who he is.”
Last season, Burgess tied the North American Hockey League single-season record with 95 points in 60 regular season games. Burgess scored 38 goals and 57 assists.
Burgess led the league in goals, assists and points during the regular season and was named the NAHL’s MVP.
He added 14 points on five goals and nine assists in 12 playoff games as the Ice Dogs won the Robertson Cup National Championship.
“I have to give some credit to coach Stewart for identifying him as a 16-year-old,” Proffitt said. “When he came into camp, he wasn’t necessarily there to make our team. He was there to get looked for couple years down the road. Coach Stewart saw something in him, believed in him and deserves some credit along the path.”
In three seasons with the Ice Dogs, Burgess scored 58 goals with 89 assists for 147 points.
“I don’t think guys in the NHL know what his ceiling is. A lot of guys, you know what their ceiling is. They’re kind of maxed out,” Proffitt said. “I don’t think Todd’s even come close to maxing out what his ceiling is going to be.”
Entering the draft, Burgess was committed to play at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Burgess said he still plans on playing in Troy, New York, next season.
“Just kind of focusing on that for now because that’s what’s coming up next,” Burgess said. “Just going to enjoy today and we’ll worry about that stuff tomorrow.”
Burgess will be one of four former Ice Dogs playing for the Engineers next season. Jesper Ohrvall and Lonnie Clary are both entering their sophomore seasons with the ECAC Hockey team while Viktor Liljegren will be a junior next season.
Burgess was one of five NAHL players to be selected on Saturday.
Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets goalie Jack Lafontaine went in the third round (75th overall) to the Carolina Hurricanes, Lone Star (Texas) Brahmas defenseman Cameron Clarke was taken in the fifth round (136th overall) by the Boston Bruins, Aberdeen (South Dakota) Wings goalie Peter Thome was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the sixth round (155th overall), and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Pennsylvania) Knights defenseman Dmitri Zaitsev went in the seventh round (207th overall) to the Washington Capitals.
Proffitt believes that Burgess will make it to the NHL one day.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll make it there,” Proffitt said. “I know he’ll put in the work and the time. I have no doubt in my mind we’ll be watching him on TV someday.”
Contact sports reporter Tim O’Donnell at 459-7583. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMSportsGuy.