Cherie Morgan / Cherie Morgan Photography

BCHL presence felt at the 2020 NHL Draft

 

When the dust settled on the 2020 NHL Draft on Wednesday, three players currently skating in the BC Hockey League heard their names (virtually) called by National Hockey League teams.

Since 1975, a total of 168 players have been selected out of the BCHL, including the two announced this year. It marks the 28th straight year the BCHL has had a player selected in the draft.

Most of the 216 players chosen this year were listed by NHL Central Scouting as being selected from their 2019-20 clubs.

However, in an odd twist, forward Kienan Draper was listed as being drafted from his 2020-21 team, which is the Chilliwack Chiefs. It means that although the BCHL officially had two players selected, only one was a regular in the league this past season.

Because it’s 2020 and nothing is normal, as the BCHL is essentially into the 2020-21 season, the NHL is putting the finishing touches on the 2019-20 season.

Regardless, the NHL’s official word is its official word, so we’ll say the BCHL had two players selected in the draft. So how did it end up that three current BCHLers were drafted?

Well, Penticton Vees forward Matteo Costantini was the first BCHL player to have his name called when he went to the Buffalo Sabres in the 5th round, 131st overall. Costantini is listed as selected from the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, where he had 36 goals and 32 assists in 50 games in 2019-20.

The St. Catharine’s, Ontario product was named OJHL rookie of the year, OJHL top prospect, and a member of the OJHL second all-star team last season.

In mid-August, a free agent able to sign with any junior A team in Canada after the Jr. Sabres announced they were taking a leave of absence for the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has two goals and five assists through four exhibition games with Vees so far this season and is committed to the University of North Dakota for next September.

Unless the NHL reverses course and says Costantini was selected from the Vees, Buffalo remains the only team to have never drafted a player directly from the BCHL.

Draper drafts Draper

In a draft filled with heartwarming moments, one of the biggest ones was when Detroit Red Wings director of amateur scouting Kris Draper took the microphone to announce the selection of his son Kienan from the Chilliwack Chiefs in the 7th round, 187th overall.

Draper is the 17th player ever chosen in the draft from the Chiefs organization and the seventh BCHL player the Red Wings have selected in their franchise history.

Draper played for St. Andrew’s College in 2019-20 and had 29 goals and 29 assists in 68 games split between the Canadian Athletic High School League and the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association. He is committed to attend Miami University (Ohio) starting next September.

The Detroit resident is also off to a fast start in the BCHL’s extended training camp season, with four goals and an assist through two games with the Chiefs.

Bowen becomes a Duck

The last BCHLer to have his name announced in the draft was the one who is the longest tenured in the league. Chilliwack Chiefs third-year forward Ethan Bowen was selected in the 7th round, 207th overall by the Anaheim Ducks.

Bowen, who is from Chilliwack, has 31 goals and 39 assists in 99 games with the Chiefs over the last two seasons. He also played three games with the team as a 15-year-old affiliate in 2017-18 but didn’t post any points.

He has two goals and an assist through two games of the BCHL’s extended training camp this season.

The centre is the 18th Chiefs player taken in the draft and just the third ever chosen by the Ducks. Bowen will be a teammate of Costantini’s at the University of North Dakota in the fall of 2021.

BCHL alumni also chosen in the draft

Other players with BCHL ties selected in the draft include forwards Lukas Svejkovsky and Jack Finley along with defenseman Luke Reid.

Svejkovsky went in the 4th round, 108th overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Point Roberts, Washington product played for the Wenatchee Wild during the 2017-18 BCHL season and had 11 points in 16 games.

He spent the last two seasons in the Western Hockey League, finishing 2019-20 with 38 points in 52 games split between the Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers.

Finley, who was chosen in the 2nd round, 57th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning, had 57 points in 61 games in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs this past season.

The Kelowna, BC native played two games for the Penticton Vees as an affiliate player in 2017-18 and scored his lone career BCHL goal.

Chicago Steel defenseman Reid went to the Nashville Predators in the sixth round, 166th overall.

He’s played the last two seasons with the Steel, posting 38 points in 105 games. The Warman, Saskatchewan blueliner played for the Vees in 2017-18 and notched 18 points in 54 games as a 17-year-old.

The number of BCHL players chosen in the NHL draft this year is a far cry from last year when eight players were selected. But two players out of 216 is nothing to sneeze at (with a mask on, of course) and the BCHL can still boast that it is one of the top development leagues in the world.