2011 NHL Draft – Smokie duo in Junior A’s top-10

A pair of Trail Smoke Eaters continues to stay on the radar as the 2011 NHL Draft approaches.

The latest report from the NHL’s Central Scouting listed the top-10 prospects for each North American hockey league including the Canadian Junior A ranks.

Trail native Joey Baker and Cranbrook’s Sam Mellor were two of six BCHL players listed as the top-10 prospects in the Canadian Junior A Hockey League.

Glen Sanders, a B.C. regional scout for the NHL’s Nashville Predators, said both players have strong qualities.

“They like Joey’s size,” said Sanders. “He’s a good skater and he finishes his checks.”

Looking ahead, Sanders said the 17-year-old Baker will have to take on a bigger role with the Smokies and add some statistical results to go with his physical attributes.

Mellor, who is headed to the University of Alaska Anchorage next season, will have to improve his foot-speed and quickness in the coming years, said Sanders.

However, he acknowledged that Mellor has an uncanny knack for putting the puck in the net.

“He’s a natural goal scorer,” said Sanders.

And while being on the radar is certainly noteworthy, Sanders cautions it’s still a long way to hearing their names called on draft day.

See RENZ, Page 12

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Meanwhile, a third Kootenay BCHLer also made the list. Castlegar’s Ryan Renz, who plays defence for the Vernon Vipers, joins Coquitlam’s Destry Straight, Westside’s Michael King and Joel Lowry of Victoria in Junior A’s top-10.

Central Scouting’s final list prior to the NHL draft will be released April 12. This year’s draft is slated for June 24 and 25 in St. Paul, Minnesota.