B.C. boys continue to carve their spots in Central Scouting’s top 10, with North Vancouver’s Sam Reinhart and Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen expected to go early in this summer’s 2014 NHL Draft.
In CSS’s most recent rankings, released on Tuesday, Reinhart – who plays for the WHL’s Kootenay Ice – is listed third overall among North American skaters, behind No. 1 Sam Bennett and No. 2 Aaron Ekblad.
Virtanen, who also plays in the WHL for the Calgary Hitmen, is ranked sixth overall. He was ranked No. 9 in January’s rankings, also from CSS.
This year, Virtanen put up 45 goals and 26 assists for 71 points in 71 games.
The Hitmen were bounced out of this year’s WHL playoffs by Reinhart’s Kootenay Ice. The Ice are currently tied 1-1 in their semifinal series against the Medicine Hat Tigers, formerly captained by injured Canucks prospect Hunter Shinkaruk.
The Canucks are currently ninth-last in the NHL’s overall standings with three games to go, meaning Vancouver could potentially be able to select either Reinhart or Virtanen with their first pick this year.
Last year, Vancouver traded goaltender Cory Schneider to select London Knights forward Bo Horvat at No. 9, and then selected Shinkaruk at No. 24.
*NOTE: Only one B.C. born player has ever been selected first overall in the NHL Draft – Burnaby’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011, to the Edmonton Oilers.
Top-ranked North American goalie is Thatcher Demko, a San Diego, California kid who plays in the NCAA for Boston College.
The WHL’s highest-ranked goaltender is No. 17 Justin Paulic, who plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Four WHLers placed in CSS’s top 10 North American skaters. Joining Reinhart and Virtanen is Prince Albert’s Leon Draisaitl at No. 4 and Red Deer’s Haydn Fleury at No. 9.
Six Ontario Hockey League players placed in the ranking’s top 10, meaning no skaters from Quebec’s major junior level or the United States hockey leagues were picked to go early in this June’s round one.
The 2014 NHL Draft will be held on June 27 and 28 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.