ST. PAUL - Omaha Lancers power forward and Minnesota native Seth Ambroz feels he has something to prove.
Despite the fact NHL Central Scouting had him ranked No. 31 on the final list of North American skaters, Ambroz was forced and sit and wait before the Columbus Blue Jackets finally called his name in the fifth round (No. 128 overall) Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
Despite feeling a bit disappointed, Ambroz was grateful to the Blue Jackets for at least giving him the opportunity of a lifetime.
"I've been told a lot of times that it's a number," Ambroz said. "When you get drafted, you're a number and after that, it's what you do after the draft. Are you willing to pay the price to get to where you want to go? We'll see what happens."
Ambroz grinned when asked if he had a message for fans of the Blue Jackets.
"Hopefully, you guys got a steal," he said.
When Ambroz joined Omaha from New Prague High School in Minnesota as a 15-year-old in 2008-09, he immediately made an impact, notching 14 goals, 17 assists and 88 penalty minutes in 60 games. It was at a time when Ambroz wouldn't admit much to reporters -- a combination of his reserved demeanor despite bursting upon the scene at such a young age.
The University of Minnesota-bound Ambroz was a changed man in 2010-11, however. He finished with a career-high 24 goals on a league-leading 222 shots on goal, had 16 of his 46 points on the power play and a plus-3 rating in 56 games. For his career, he had 60 goals, including 25 with the man advantage, 126 points, 295 penalty minutes and a plus-15 rating in 172 games.
Ambroz, who was the top-rated Minnesotan, said he didn't know what to expect at the Draft. He was the fourth-highest player from the Twin Cities selected, after Mario Lucia (Wild, 60th overall) of Wayzata High School, Andy Welinski (Ducks, No. 83) of the Green Bay Gamblers and Joe LaBate (Canucks, 101st overall) of the Academy of Holy Angels.
"I had no idea, obviously you don't know what to expect and obviously you're expecting to be higher, but now it's all said and done and I can't complain since I was selected to an NHL team," Ambroz said. "That's always a great accomplishment … now it's what you do afterward.
"I did think it would be earlier on, but stuff happens. It's what you do from here on out."
Those evaluators of Central Scouting certainly had their reasons for listing Ambroz near the top of the North American list.
"He's a John Tonelli-type player, very strong," Central Scouting's Al Jensen said. "I've seen him run over players along the boards to get by them. He competes very hard and has good hands and puck skills. He has a strong skating stride, not lightning speed, but very effective and strong. He has a good, hard wrist shot and is responsible in his own end."
Ambroz said he'll get back to work on Monday in an effort to eventually make a name for himself.
"I have to improve my foot speed," he said. "I feel I have size and everything like that but it's going to be those first three steps. If I can do that, I might be able to get to where I want to go."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale