For likely the first time ever, the Trail Smoke Eaters will see a player drafted into the NHL in two consecutive years.
Trail Smoke Eaters defenceman Seth Barton cracked the NHL Central Scouting final-ranking list on Monday.
Although a slight drop from Barton’s 81st midterm ranking, the 18-year-old Kelowna native is ranked 94th among North American skaters in the last round of rankings made by NHL Central Scouting prior to the 2018 NHL Draft.
The six-foot-two Barton netted six goals and 27 assists for the Smoke Eaters in his rookie season, and is an intelligent, poised and physical defender, who is considered a third- or fourth-round draft candidate. Barton was especially effective during the playoffs tallying 11 points in 16 games, including a team high five power-play assists, in helping the Smoke Eaters to the Interior Division final.
Barton also played for Team Canada West in the World Jr. A Challenge in December, where, along with teammate Ross Armour, they helped Canada West capture the international championship. Barton followed that up by securing a spot in the CJHL Top Prospects game played in Mississauga, Ont. Jan. 23.
Last season, Smoke Eaters forward Kale Howarth topped all BCHL players in the NHL Central Scouting rankings and was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fifth round of the NHL Draft.
To have potentially two Trail players drafted in consecutive years is unprecedented territory for the Smoke Eaters. In addition to Howarth, only two other players have been drafted as Smoke Eaters, Travis Gawryletz by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2004 and Grant Rollheiser in 2008 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Barton committed to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell for the 2019-20 season and joins 10 other BCHL skaters in the Central Scouting rankings.
Penticton’s Jonny Tychonick is the highest ranked BCHLer at No. 36. A Penticton native, Tychonick scored nine goals and 47 points in the 2017-18 campaign and is a North Dakota commit.
The Vernon Vipers have three players in the rankings. Forwards Brett Stapley, 19, was ranked 177th, and Josh Prokop, an 18-year-old Edmonton native, 197th. Vipers goaltender Ty Taylor came in at 25 among puck stoppers, winning the BCHL’s Top Goalie Award this season with an impressive 1.87 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
The Wentchee Wild saw two of their top scorers and one defenceman crack the list. BCHL MVP Jasper Weatherby is rated 198th following a 74-point season, while Sam Morton, a Colorado native, tallied 29 goals and 54 points for the Wild, and is ranked at 212.
Wenatchee’s Stanislav Demin a six-foot-two, 190-pound defenceman is ranked 40th. The Californian posted nine goals and 45 points and will play for Denver in the 2019-20 season.
The Langley Rivermen’s Brendan Budy and Angus Crookshank are rated 125th and 135thm respectively, while Max Crozier of the Nanaimo Clippers is 207th.
The top ranked North American skater is Barrie Colts forward Andrei Svechnikov of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), while, long considered the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming June NHL Draft, Rasmus Dahlin is the top ranked European skater. The elite rearguard out of Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League has scouts drooling over his top-pairing potential and already comparing his potential NHL impact to that of players like Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman.
Rounding out the potential top picks are Boston University forward Brady Tkachuk, son of NHL Hall of famer Keith Tkachuk, and brother of Calgary Flames forward Matt. Halifax Mooseheads forward Filip Zadina and defencemen Evan Bouchard (London Knights) and Noah Dobson (Acadie–Bathurst Titan) round out the top five North American skaters.
Official draft order of the top 15 picks will be determined during the upcoming Draft Lottery on April 28, with Buffalo (18.5 per cent), Ottawa (13.5 per cent) and Arizona (11.5 per cent) owning the best odds of landing the top pick.
The 2018 NHL Draft will take place on June 22-23 in Dallas.
• In its 43rd year of operation, NHL Central Scouting provides evaluation and scouting of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting employs eight full-time and 12 part-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing internationally, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff at European Scouting Services based in Finland.
Combined, NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Services will see in excess of 3,000 games this season.