It’s safe to say that every major-junior hockey player has aspirations of continuing their game at the professional level.
A handful of Kootenay Ice inched closer towards that goal Wednesday afternoon.
The NHL Central Scouting Service released its final rankings ahead of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, with forward Luke Philp moving up the charts from No. 191 (at the mid-season rankings) to No. 172.
“You try not to expect too much. You want to get picked always,” Philp said.
“You can’t get too down on yourself. Last year, I was really disappointed I didn’t get picked. You’ve got to just let that fuel you to work even harder than you were before, to hopefully get picked in the future.”
Philp was passed over at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, his first year of eligibility. In the season that followed, his hard work proved NHL scouts wrong and has earned him a second look.
In 71 WHL games this season, the native of Canmore stacked up 30 goals and 82 points to lead the Kootenay Ice.
Meanwhile, Philp’s linemate Jaedon Descheneau is prepared to join the AHL’s Chicago Wolves as he battles to prove the St. Louis Blues he is worth an NHL entry-level contract.
“I had a good season, but not the best season I could have had,” Descheneau said.
“It’s kind of frustrating. I was really wanting to get a contract. It could happen still. I have no idea what’s going on with that.
“I’m going to Chicago in the American League next week…That’s a good step towards getting something.”
Unlike Philp, Descheneau wasn’t passed over at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft as the Blues selected him in the fifth round (124th overall).
In 70 games this season, Descheneau tallied 34 goals and 81 points, down from the 44 goals and 98 points he registered during the 2013-14 campaign.
In other rumblings revolving around the Kootenay Ice, forward Tim Bozon is headed for the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
A third-round selection (64th overall) of the Montreal Canadiens at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Bozon was re-assigned to the Bulldogs Wednesday morning as they fight for a spot in the AHL playoff picture.
Bozon posted 35 goals and 63 points in 57 games with the Ice this season.
Captain Sam Reinhart is also headed east as he was re-assigned to the AHL’s Rochester Americans Wednesday.
The second-overall selection of the Buffalo Sabres at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Reinhart played nine games with the Sabres before being returned to the Ice earlier this season.
Upon returning to Cranbrook, Reinhart scored 19 goals and 65 points in 47 games.
Finally, defenceman Rinat Valiev will get his first taste of pro hockey this week as he was re-assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies Wednesday morning.
Valiev, a 2014 third-round selection (68th overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs, missed the bulk of Leafs camp this past fall as he dealt with a knee injury.
The native of Nizhnekamsk led all Ice defencemen with nine goals and 46 points through the 2014-15 campaign.