By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — While the NHL’s 31 teams were picking a future generation of players in Dallas on June 23, Dustyn McFaul was celebrating his graduation from Waterdown High with some family and friends.

His mom had put the party together and considering he’d only shown up on the Central Scouting Service radar at midseason, McFaul wasn’t thinking much about the NHL Draft.

Then a call came from his advisor Paul Capizzano.

“It was the best call of my life,” McFaul said.

The Bruins selected McFaul in the sixth round (No. 181), capping a season that started with disappointment but improved every month until McFaul wound up becoming Bruins property.

A 13th-round pick (No. 259) of Kingston in the OHL, McFaul was cut at the Frontenacs training camp last fall. So the 6-foot-2, 185-pound defenseman joined the Pickering Panthers of the OJHL, which turned out to be the best place for his development.

“Growing up in minor hockey, I didn’t get every opportunity, just certain coaches and stuff,” said McFaul, who turned 18 on August 4. “And I think in Pickering I was given every opportunity in the world and I seized the opportunity.”

The Panthers were more than willing to cast McFaul in a prominent role, based on what they expected he could provide their lineup.

“We basically saw a kid who was raw but had all the tools to become something very, very good in our league, be a very good player,” Pickering general manager and coach David Demarinis said. “He did all the little things right. I think what first caught our attention was his skating ability being the size that he was, and his smarts and the way he would basically just direct traffic on the ice. No matter how he played he was always in the right areas at the right time.

“But most importantly he was always doing things with his head up, and you don’t really find that too common. This day and age a lot of guys that want to play with the puck play with their head down, and for him to do things at high speeds with his head up … at the time was something we took notice of right away.”

By the end of the season, he had 19 points (four goals, 15 assists) in 38 regular-season games and two points (one goal, one assist) in seven postseason games. In its midseason draft rankings, CSS had him at 196. He finished the season ranked 164. In early April he committed to playing at Clarkson in the 2019-20 season.

After a summer spent deciding where to play in 2018-19, McFaul is expected to be back with Pickering, where his ice time will probably increase and he’ll get a chance to really get comfortable with his skills and blossom.

“There’s a couple areas [McFaul needs to improve] to be honest with you,” Demarinis said. “His explosiveness in his stride I think has got to get a little bit better. I think his offensive game needs to get a little bit better as well. He was a heck of a hockey player in our league but he needs to now dominate, develop that way offensively, so he’s got to be put in those situations, expand that part of his game.”

If McFaul’s development stays on track, he’ll have a lot more reasons to celebrate the way he did on draft day 2018.

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