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Ice players attracting NHL interest for 2014 Draft

Five members of the Kootenay Ice made the mid-season NHL Central Scouting rankings released on Monday, with Sam Reinhart occupying the highest spot at fourth overall.

The Kootenay Ice captain was surpassed only by Sam Bennett (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL), Leon Draisaitl (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL) and Aaron Ekblad (Barrie Colts, OHL).

Reinhart is currently in Calgary, where he will showcase his skills in front of NHL brass at the CHL BMO Top Prospects game on Wednesday evening. Reinhart was named captain of Team Cherry while Ekblad will lead Team Orr in a game that features the best talent across the CHL.

While it's no surprise that Reinhart is in the top of the Central Scouting rankings, other Kootenay Ice players have also made the scouts sit up and take notice.

Import defenceman Rinat Valiev, who cracked the same lists last season, was ranked 106th, while Jaedon Descheneau and Luke Philp were separated by only three at 122nd and 125th, respectively.

Despite his long-term injury, Tanner Faith still has some NHL interest under the Limited Viewing category, joining other injured players such as Joe Hicketts (Victoria Royals) and Taylor Vickerman (Tri-City Americans).

Valiev has been a solid addition to the blue line since his arrival in October, where he's contributed three goals and collected 13 assists.

Valiev, who attended an NHL camp with the Dallas Stars in September, adds some size to the blue line and has settled into a steady role with the team.

Descheneau leads the Ice in goal production at 28, and sits in sixth place in the WHL scoring race with 57 points.

"Yesterday morning, I didn't even know the rankings were coming out," said Descheneau. "It's nice and an honour, now I just have to play well and move myself up in the rankings."

Philp agreed, noting it was the first time he's cracked the Central Scouting lists.

He has had a solid season, stepping up to the top line while Reinhart left for the World Junior Championship. Philp has tallied 15 goals and 29 assists for 44 points this season, needing only one more to surpass his 2012-13 total.

"All in all, I'm just happy to see that my name was on the list and happy for the other guys who where named, too," Philp said.

Even though they're all happy to see themselves individually ranked, there is still a lot of work to be done as a team leading up and into playoffs.

"I'm just worried about the team here and going far in the playoffs and whatever happens on draft day, happens," said Descheneau.


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