Lisa Mazurek

BCHL connections in the 2021 NHL Draft

 

When the dust settled on the 2021 NHL Draft on Saturday, one player who skated in the BC Hockey League during the 2020-21 season heard his name (virtually) called by a National Hockey League team.

Since 1975, a total of 171 players have been selected out of the BCHL, including the one this year. 2021 is the 29th straight year the BCHL has had a player selected in the draft.

Salmon Arm Silverbacks defenseman Joaquin Lemay was the lone BCHL player to be selected in the draft when he went to the Washington Capitals in the fourth round, 119th overall.

Lemay, a 2002-born blueliner from St-Pierre-les-Becquets, QC, was recruited to the Silverbacks from Mount St. Charles Academy 18U AAA in April 2020. He posted a goal and six points in 13 games with Salmon Arm during last fall’s exhibition season.

Once the 2020-21 pod season started in April, Lemay put up 10 assists in 15 games. He rode a mid-season seven-game point streak where he posted eight assists and finished second among rookie BCHL defensemen in assists.

The defender is the 10th Silverbacks player taken in the NHL draft and just the fifth ever chosen by the Capitals. Lemay was originally committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha for this September, but in a news release, the BCHL confirmed that he is returning to Salmon Arm as a sophomore in 2021-22.

The Capitals haven’t selected a player directly from the BCHL since the 2006 NHL Draft when they took Burnaby Express defenseman Keith Seabrook in the second round, 52nd overall.

BCHL alumni nabbed by NHL teams

University of Michigan rookie Kent Johnson (61 goals and 86 assists in 112 games with Trail from 2018-20) was selected fifth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft on Friday.

Johnson, an 18-year-old from Port Moody, BC, had nine goals and 27 points in 26 games for Michigan this past season. He was ranked third among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft. Elite Prospects and TSN/Bob McKenzie both had him ranked ninth overall.

He is the third former BCHL player to be chosen by the Blue Jackets in the first round after they nabbed Gilbert Brule (32 goals, 25 assists in 48 games with Quesnel in 2002-03) in 2005 and Ryan Johansen (five goals, 12 assists in 48 games with Penticton in 2008-09) in 2010.

Calgary Hitmen defender Tyson Galloway (two goals, three assists in 27 games with Merritt in 2019-20) was chosen in the fifth round, 154th overall by the St. Louis Blues to be the second BCHL alumnus taken in the NHL Draft.

The 2003-born blueliner from Kamloops, BC tallied four goals and nine points in 17 Western Hockey League games with the Hitmen in 2020-21. He is a veteran of 53 career WHL games with 10 points over parts of three seasons.

Former BCHL recruits who played in the USHL

Two players who skated in the BCHL during the fall exhibition season were also selected in the draft. Omaha Lancers forward Ayrton Martino went to the Dallas Stars in the third round, 73rd overall while Chicago Steel defenseman Jack Bar was also selected by the Stars in the fifth round, 138th overall.

Martino was tops in scoring on the Chilliwack Chiefs in the exhibition season with 10 points in eight games. Bar notched seven points in 13 games with the Penticton Vees last fall.

The pair were recruited during the off-season last year, but once the BCHL season was paused due to the COVID-19 in late November and early December, Martino and Bar took their games to the USHL to get into game action.