For some Kelowna Rockets, their dreams could come true in the next couple days.
The NHL Draft is taking place in Nashville, Tennessee over the next two days with the first round on Wednesday, June 28 and rounds two through seven on Thursday, June 29, and a trio of Kelowna Rockets are likely to be taken early on.
Going into the draft, Rockets superstar Andrew Cristall is ranked 15th among North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting. The 18-year-old is ranked anywhere from 12th to 35th on various expert’s scouting lists. Going by those numbers, he is expected to be picked around 20th overall, which belongs to the Seattle Kraken.
“Andrew has been an offensive catalyst in Kelowna this year,” said NHL Central Scouting’s John Williams. “He’s very gifted offensively, good on the power play, has great vision and knows how to score.”
If Cristall is picked 19th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, he is likely to join his best friend Connor Bedard, who is expected to be taken first overall to the Windy City.
‘‘He’s probably the smartest hockey player I’ve gotten to play with and watch this year,’’ Bedard said. ‘‘The things he’s able to do out there with the puck and how well he creates offence is some of the best I’ve ever seen. He’s a special player, and he’s going to make a team really happy.”
In 115 career WHL games, all with the Rockets, Cristall has put up 164 points (67 goals, 97 assists).
“I’ll be thrilled to be picked by anyone,” said Cristall.
Rockets defenceman Caden Price is expected to be a late first-round to second round pick. According to NHL Central Scouting, Price ranked 47th among North American skaters. Hockey experts have him ranked anywhere from 28th overall to 73rd.
The 17-year old has 61 points (seven goals, 54 assists) to his name in 112 WHL games.
On NHL Central Scouting’s list is also Rockets forward Gabriel Szturc, who ranked 220th among North American skaters. However, he’s been ranked as high as 85th, according to some scout experts.
The Rockets current captain has 120 points (40 goals, 80 assists) in 123 career WHL games.
Since 1992, 71 Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets have been selected in the NHL Draft. The Tampa Bay Lightning have drafted a league-high seven Rockets while the Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, St. Louis Blues and Seattle Kraken have never picked a Rocket. Among Canadian teams, the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have each taken three Rockets.
The first round of the NHL Draft begins on Wednesday, June 28 at 4 p.m. Rounds two through seven begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 29.