Brandon McMillan is back home playing in the NHL for the team he grew up cheering for.
The Vancouver Canucks picked up the 24-year-old South Delta Minor Hockey product on waivers last week from the Arizona Coyotes. He should make his Canucks debut sometime this week.
After an impressive career in the Western Hockey League with the Kelowna Rockets, speedy forward was selected in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks. He was traded to the Coyotes two years ago and had three points for Arizona in 50 games this season.
He is expected have a high-energy defensive role with Vancouver.
“I was a Canucks fan growing up,” McMillan told a media gathering on Friday. “Pavel Bure, the Courtnalls, Trevor Linden, Martin Gelinas; all were huge parts of the team growing up.
“I grew up in Ladner and Tsawwassen so it’s nice to be coming home with a lot of family and friends here.”
In 2005, McMillan was one of three South Delta A1 Storm players taken in the WHL Bantam Draft, going in the fourth round to Kelowna. Along with San Jose Sharks prospect Brodie Reid, he was among the top scorers with Greater Vancouver of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, before he headed to the WHL.
McMillan still returned home at the conclusion of the Rockets’ season to finish his Grade 11 and 12 years at South Delta secondary. A prospects camp with the Ducks, shortly after the NHL Draft, prevented him from attending SDSS grad night.
“Even though my parents eventually moved up to Kelowna, I still spend a lot of my summers here,” said McMillan. “South Delta Hockey all the way.”
McMillan got a chance to play for Canucks coach Willie Desjardins at the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships. Chosen to Team Canada for his strong two-way play, he had a productive tournament with four goals, including a hat trick against Switzerland. He played most of the tournament on a line with Jordan Eberle and Brayden Schenn.
“He is a real good hard working player,” said Desjardins. “He works hard every shift and it doesn’t matter the score or the building, he always plays the same.”
McMillan, who will be wearing No. 21 as a Canuck, is looking forward to helping the Canucks secure a playoff spot.
“I’m a role player who brings a lot of energy and passion for the game,” he added. “I need to be hard with the forecheck and use my speed, hopefully giving those top lines a little bit of space.
“Willie is a great coach who know what he is doing. He stays calm and makes sure the guys are focus and ready to go. “The (world juniors) was a great tournament for myself. I had a lot of fun and he was a big part of that.”