30 June 2019 – Teenage Croatian-Canadian ice hockey star Michael Vukojević (18) has been drafted in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in the 3rd round with the 82nd pick to the New Jersey Devils.
The 6’3″ 212lbs defensemen is from Oakville, Ontario who currently plays for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL, which is one of the three major junior leagues in Canada. In the 2018-2019 season for the Rangers, he tallied 29 points in 68 games, and played a lot of minutes in critical moments for the Rangers.
More recently, Vukojević played for the U18 Canadian National Team, where he competed in the IIHF U18 World Championship, finishing in 4th place. Before that, he competed at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where Team Canada won Gold.
Michael’s father’s (Miroslav) family comes from Slavonski Brod in Croatia, and his mother’s (Ana) family are from Ljubuški. Their families emigrated in the 60’s and 70’s to Toronto. He has a brother and sister (Matthew and Rebecca), who are attending university at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.
There have been a number of people with Croatian heritage over the years who have played in the NHL, including Frank & Peter Mahovlich, Joe Sakic, Marc-Édouard Vlasic and Marty Pavelich. Pavelich’s brother, Matt, officiated in 1,727 regular NHL season games before retiring in 1979. His career spanned over three decades and was second longest in league history.
“What a feeling! Thank you New Jersey Devils for the opportunity, can’t wait to get going!,” Michael posted on his Instagram account after the draft.