Caedan Bankier and Josh Pillar have a Wild connection.
They were paired as roommates at the 2018 Kamloops Blazers' spring camp and have roomed together for the past two WHL seasons with Val and Les Davidson in Valleyview.
On Saturday, Bankier and Pillar were drafted into the NHL — by the same team.
The Minnesota Wild selected Bankier, a left-shot forward from Cloverdale, in Round 3 (86th overall) and Pillar, a right-shot forward from Warman, Sask., in Round 4 (127th overall).
"It was just kind of meant to be and I think we are going to be spending a lot more time together over the coming years," said Bankier, who had 23 points, including 11 goals, in 22 games last season.
Pillar, a year older than Bankier and heading into his 19-year-old season, was passed over in the 2020 NHL Draft and spoke to KTW last October about the deflating snub.
“It was pretty heartbreaking, for sure, but if you’re going to take positives from it, I have a lot of time before the season starts to improve my game and get better," said Pillar, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 171 pounds. "I’m just going to prove to those guys that they missed out.”
Pillar responded with a breakout campaign in the pandemic-shortened 2021 WHL season, leading the Blazers in scoring with 29 points, including 11 goals, in 22 games.
"It was a huge weight off of the shoulders and a lot of relief, for sure," Pillar said on Sunday. "And getting to go there [to Minnesota] with Caedan, I couldn't have written it up any better."
They will be gifted a degree of comfort not often offered to players attending their first NHL camp. They might even room together.
When they return to more familiar confines in Valleyview, the two pals will turn attention to unfinished business.
"Hopefully, we have the long run we were kind of robbed of the last two years," said Bankier, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 190 pounds.
"We need to go out and win it [the Memorial Cup]. With the team we had even last year and the year before, we probably could have, actually not could have, we probably were going to be at the Memorial Cup and we were going to probably, I believe, win it.
"We want to get it done and bring a Memorial Cup back to Kamloops."