The 2015 NHL Entry Draft might not be as anticipated in the East Kootenay as it was in 2014, but the Kootenay Ice still stand to be represented.
The hype of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft hit close to home in the East Kootenay as Kootenay Ice captain and now franchise leading scorer Sam Reinhart was selected second overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
In 2015, alternate captain Luke Philp heads up the draft day crowd for the Ice, ranked 172nd amongst North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service (CSS).
Philp, a 19-year-old native of Canmore, Alta., was passed over at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft — his first year of eligibility.
After scoring a WHL career high of 82 points in 71 games this past season, the 5-foot-10, 181-pound pivot is hoping the 2015 NHL Entry Draft doesn’t leave him disappointed yet again.
“You try not to expect too much. You want to get picked always,” Philp said in April.
“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.”
Even though he was passed over at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Philp still caught the eyes of hockey minds at the professional level, earning an invite to Toronto Maple Leafs rookie camp prior to the start of the WHL season.
Forward Jon Martin was also passed over in 2014 but found himself invited to Vancouver Canucks rookie camp in the fall.
Outside of Philp and Martin, forward Zak Zborosky and defenceman Troy Murray had the attention of NHL scouts at times this past season.
In mid-September, both Zborosky and Murray found their way onto the Central Scouting Service’s preliminary list of players to watch ahead of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
By the time the CSS released its mid-term rankings, Murray had fallen out of the picture and Zborosky ranked 97th amongst North American skaters. The final edition of the annual draft list did not include the Regina native.
At the time the preliminary list was released, Dan Marr, NHL director of Central Scouting, said his team felt Zborosky was ready to break out offensively.
While the 18-year-old right-winger tallied 18 goals, 22 assists and 40 points, all career highs, it likely wasn’t the breakout scouts were hoping for.
With seven rounds of selections, there’s no telling when a team might call a player’s name.
Though Philp stands as the likeliest to hear his name called sometime Saturday when the NHL conducts the second through seventh rounds of the draft, players like Martin, Murray or Zborosky could also be lucky enough to earn an opportunity from a pro club.
In total, the 2014-15 edition of the Kootenay Ice features 15 players eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Forwards Matt Alfaro, River Beattie, Ryan Chynoweth, Martin, Philp, Austin Wellsby and Zborosky all remain eligible.
Defencemen Bryan Allbee, Lenny Hackman, Tyler King, Tanner Lishchynsky, Murray and Dylan Overdyk are also eligible.
Finally, goaltenders Wyatt Hoflin and Keelan Williams are also draft eligible.
The first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft will be conducted Friday beginning at 5 p.m. MT, with round two getting underway Saturday at 8 a.m. MT.