By the end of Saturday, more than 200 young hockey players will have an NHL team to call home.
Among those waiting to hear their names called in the early rounds of the draft are seven players who play for Saskatchewan teams and two who are Saskatchewan raised.
Rankings are based on the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s final list which came out in April.
SASKATCHEWAN BORN AND RAISED
- Kole Lind – Kelowna Rockets
Lind is the highest-ranked prospect with Saskatchewan ties, projected to be pick #23 by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. Lind is a native of Shaunavon, Sask., and plays right wing for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. In his second year with the team, he had 30 goals and 57 assists for a total of 87 points, showing significant growth from his rookie year.
- Jake Leschyshyn – Regina Pats
Leschyshyn actually checks off both the boxes on our list as he grew up in Grasswood, Sask. and he plays for the Regina Pats. Leschyshyn was born in Raleigh, N.C., while his dad Curtis played for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Leschyshyn was the Pats third line centre and was off to a promising year before a season ending knee injury sidelined him. His draft ranking fell from 31 to 42 after that, but he is still expected to be a solid pick up for an NHL team.
PROSPECTS PLAYING FOR SASKATCHEWAN TEAMS
- Nick Henry – Regina Pats
Henry had a breakout rookie season with the Regina Pats, playing on a dominant line with Sam Steel and Dawson Leedahl. Henry scored 35 goals and 46 assists this season, good enough for second in the league amongst rookies.
Henry is the second-highest ranked prospect on our list at #25, but his production slowed in the playoffs which could affect his selection Friday night.
Henry grew up in Portege la Prairie, Man.
- Aleksi Heponiemi – Swift Current Broncos
Heponiemi was the WHL rookie of the year and beat out Regina Pat Nick Henry for the rookie scoring title. Still, as of April when the final NHL scouting list was compiled, he was one spot behind Henry.
Heponiemi scored 28 goals and 58 assists in his first-year campaign and notched eight assists in the playoffs. The Finish sensation is ranked #26.
- Josh Brook – Moose Jaw Warriors
Ranked 49th by the NHL scouting bureau, the Warriors defenceman is coming off a solid effort in the regular season and the post-season. Brook led Moose Jaw defencemen with 48 points and chipped in two goals and five assists in the playoffs, better than any other player on his team.
Brook represented Canada in the U-18 tournament in 2017.
- Artyom Minulin – Swift Current Broncos
Minulin was the Broncos lead scorer among defencemen with 50 points in the regular season and another seven in the post-season. The 19-year-old represented Russia in the under-17 world championships in 2014, helping his team win gold.
He’s ranked #58 in the draft rankings.
- Tyler Steenbergen – Swift Current Broncos
Tyler Steenbergen makes three Swift Current Broncos ranked in the top 100 NHL draft prospects, which may shed some light on why the Pats struggled to get by the team in the playoffs.
Steenbergen’s stock jumped significantly between the mid-year rankings to the final rankings in April, going from #138 to #70. A solid regular season campaign didn’t hurt. He tallied a total of 90 points including 51 goals this season. In the playoffs, he notched 8 goals and 6 assists.
- Ian Scott – Prince Albert Raiders
Scott is ranked third amongst North American goaltenders – who are ranked separately than skaters – which makes it difficult to predict what round he may go. Not in question, however, is a strong showing in the 2016-17 season, despite his team finishing the season in the WHL’s basement.
Scott put together a 3.69 goals against average and 0.895 save percentage. Internationally, he represented Canada in several tournaments including the 2017 under-18 world championships.
The first round of NHL Draft gets underway live at 5 p.m. Saskatchewan time on Sportsnet. The following six rounds will air Saturday beginning at 8 a.m.