MANKATO — C.J. Franklin watched the National Hockey League draft on his computer on Saturday, not certain if he should expect to see his name pop up.
A year earlier, after a good rookie season in the United States Hockey League, he was passed over. Had the Minnesota State recruit done enough in his second season of junior hockey to put himself on a team’s board?
He impressed at least one team.
The Winnipeg Jets picked Franklin, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward with their fifth-round selection, No. 129 overall.
“It’s definitely a week to remember,” said Franklin, who moved to Mankato last week to begin classes and summer workouts. “It’s been interesting being with the team and getting to know the guys. To get drafted just tops it off.”
The Forest Lake native played the last two seasons with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. In two seasons there, he had 54 goals and 111 points. While his production dipped a bit from his first to his second season, he was also put into a leadership role with the team, and did an impressive job, according to Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings.
“I would have been surprised if he wasn’t (drafted),” Hastings said. “I think there was a lot of interest.”
Franklin said the Jets seemed most interested during pre-draft conversations.
“I had talked to Winnipeg,” he said. “I knew if I was going to get drafted I was confident it was going to be them.”
Franklin’s busy summer will get busier as he will go to Winnipeg’s prospect camp on July 6. One of his new MSU teammates, defenseman Sean Flanagan, also will be attending that camp as a free-agent invitee.
“I think his eyes are wide open,” Hastings said. “He’s tested well, and he’s come in in good shape. I think he’s already earned some respect from the guys who have been here before.”