Sam Reinhart may dominate the draft talk around the Kootenay Ice, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few diamonds in the rough.
The Kootenay Ice captain has been on the NHL’s radar since coming into the WHL full-time as a 16-year-old three seasons ago, but a few of his teammates may yet get the chance to hear their name at the draft on Friday night in Philadelphia.
Luke Philp, who shares the same birthdate as Reinhart, is eligible for the draft this year, and he’s certainly made a case for himself.
Philp was a point-per-game player this year, and found chemistry with Tim Bozon and Austin Vetterl to tally 31 goals and 46 assists in 71 outings.
He kept up his offensive production in the post-season with 13 points in as many games.
Central Scouting had him ranked as the second-highest Kootenay Ice player behind Reinhart, finishing the season as the 80th overall North American skater—a jump from 125th at the mid-season rankings.
Only two places up from Philp on the CSS rankings is Russian defenceman Rinat Valiev, who holds the 82nd spot.
Despite a hiccup with his Visa at the start of the season, Valiev suited up the day he arrived in Canada, appearing in a game against the Edmonton Oil Kings at Rexall Centre, where he promptly scored an own-goal after attempting to clear the puck on a sharp angle behind the net.
However, Valiev became an important part of the defensive corps, adding experience—he attended training camp with the Dallas Stars before coming to Cranbrook—and some offensive flair.
He tallied 28 points in 55 games, and posted nine more in the playoffs.
He also took part in the Subway Super Series, playing one game with the Russian national squad against Team WHL.
For Jaedon Descheneau, it will be his second time through the draft process, however, he hit the CSS list this time, coming in at 95th overall—climbing up from the 125th spot at the mid-season rankings.
It’s hard to ignore the season he had.
The diminutive Kootenay triggerman posted 44 goals—the most since Steve Da Silva’s 40-goal performance in 2008—and collected 98 points.
Descheneau was the third-highest goal-scorer in the Eastern Conference, and led the Ice with 16 powerplay goals.