MONTREAL — Brennan Ali’s irrepressible personality kept him going as round after round passed by in the NHL draft, waiting to hear a team call his name.
It took until the seventh round, at No. 212, when the Detroit Red Wings took a gamble on the 6-foot center.
“I was trying to stay positive,” Ali said Friday. “Once it got to the seventh, the nerves started to kick in a little bit. But I knew teams were still interested in me and Detroit popped up and I was just so happy.
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“It feels so great. I worked so hard to get to this point in my life. It’s unbelievable that Detroit wants me. It feels great.”
Ali was the only player drafted by the Wings Friday who was at the event at Bell Centre.
Ali spent the majority of last season at Avon (Connecticut) Old Farms High School, where he posted 15 goals and 19 assists in 27 games. He also played for the USNTDP, registering an assist in two appearances with the under-18 team. He also had two assists in four games with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars.
Ali appeared in 11 games with the NTDP in 2020-21, recording three points in 11 games for the U-17 team. The native of Glencoe, Illinois, is committed to Notre Dame come fall. He has been to the state of Michigan regularly for tournaments, and has played at Little Caesars Arena’s practice facility.
Ali described himself as a “power forward, hard to play against. Big, physical, fast. I have a good shot to go with that. I think I can cause turnovers, get to the net, and can score goals as well.”
As for having a last name that is famous in the world of boxing, Ali laughs it off.
“My teammates sometimes make fun of me for being related to Muhammad Ali. I’m not related to him, but I wish I was. Great fighter. It’s cool.”
Ali will be at the Wings’ development camp next, and hopes to carry the vote of confidence he received Friday into the fall.
“It definitely gives you a confidence boost that the things you’re doing helps,” Ali said. “I think it should help me for next year, being drafted by such a good organization.”
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.