BCHL 2019 NHL DRAFT PRIMER
The 2019 NHL Draft takes place this weekend on June 21 and 22 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. With 10 BCHL players making the cut on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings released in April, we are breaking down each player and where they can expect to be taken come draft day.
Alex Newhook (F) – Victoria Grizzlies
The St. John’s, N.L. native has been a star for the Grizzlies the last two years, winning the BCHL Rookie of the Year in his first season and winning the scoring title and the MVP this past season. Newhook became the first BCHL player to crack the 100-point milestone since 2015-16 when he racked up eight points in his final game of the season to reach 102. He also played for Team Canada at the U18 World Championships in April where he tied for the team lead in scoring with 10 points in seven games. He’s committed to Boston College next season.
Newhook has seen his stock rise since his U18 performance and most projections have him in the 10-15 range of the first round, but don’t be surprised if a team grabs him slightly higher than that.
Alexander Campbell (F) – Victoria Grizzlies
Campbell, from Chateauguay, Que., came over to Victoria with his older brother Charlie and had an immediate impact on the team. He had a hat trick in his first-ever game and never looked back, finishing the year with 67 points in 53 games and taking home BCHL Rookie of the Year honours. When he wasn’t playing with his brother, he formed one of the most dangerous lines in the league alongside Alex Newhook and Riley Hughes. He’s currently committed to Clarkson University for 2020-21
Listed as a “C Prospect” early in the season, meaning a fourth-round pick or lower, Campbell has shot up the rankings with his performance in 2018-19 and is projected to be chosen in the second or third round come Saturday.
Layton Ahac (D) – Prince George Spruce Kings
The North Vancouver native is coming off an incredibly successful final year in the BCHL. The Spruce Kings went on an historic run in the playoffs, going 16-1 to capture the team’s first-ever Fred Page Cup and Ahac played a huge part in that, catching fire offensively and going for 17 points in 17 postseason games. Prince George went on to defeat the number-one ranked team in the CJHL – the Brooks Bandits – in six games in the Doyle Cup and made it all the way to the finals of the National Junior A Championships. In his first year in the league, he made the BCHL All-Rookie team and this past season he was named a Second-Team All-Star. He’s committed to Ohio State University next year.
With his heroic playoff performance coming after Central Scouting’s final rankings came out, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go higher than originally expected. He could be taken anywhere from late in the second round to somewhere in the fourth.
Harrison Blaisdell (F) – Chilliwack Chiefs
Blaisdell became an offensive superstar for the Chiefs this past season. The 18-year-old from Regina, Sask. tied for fifth in BCHL goal scoring with 33 tallies and finished in the top-20 in league scoring with 58 points in 51 games, leading Chilliwack to the best record in the league. He also had a strong showing with Team Canada West at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge where he led the team with four goals as they went on to win a bronze medal. Blaisdell is committed to the University of North Dakota.
At #80 in the rankings among North American skaters, Blaisdell should slot in somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft.
Massimo Rizzo (F) – Penticton Vees
Unfortunately for Rizzo, he had a late start to his season due to injury and didn’t play his first game until late October. Although it took him a while to find the back of the net, the Burnaby, B.C. native had eight assists in his first seven games. Shortly after, he found his goal-scoring touch and ended the season at over a point a game with 40 in 37 contests. Rizzo is committed to the University of North Dakota for 2019-20.
Despite an injury-plagued season, Rizzo should still be selected somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft.
Jeremie Bucheler (D) – Victoria Grizzlies
Last season, Bucheler and his teammate Carter Berger formed a blueline duo that rivaled any in the BCHL. Bucheler finished the season with the fifth-most points among all defencemen in the league with 45 and his 37 assists were the third-most among blueliners. The 19-year-old from St-Laurent, Que. was also a steady defensive presence on the back end for the Grizzlies and was a key part of the team’s third-ranked power play. He’s committed to Northeastern for next year.
Bucheler wasn’t featured on Central Scouting’s Players to Watch list early in the season, but his strong play throughout the year caught the attention of the scouts who made sure to include him in their final rankings. He could be a mid to late-round pick.
Kevin Wall (F) – Chilliwack Chiefs
Another player who wasn’t on many people’s radar heading into the season, Wall, from Fairport, N.Y., immediately impressed teammates, fans and scouts with his goal-scoring ability this season. He led all BCHL rookies with 31 goals and was named a First-Team All-Star and a member of the All-Rookie Team. In November, he earned a scholarship to Penn State University where he will play the 2019-20 season.
Despite being included on Central Scouting’s final rankings, Wall was left off of many other draft lists. He could be a late-round pick.
Carter Berger (D) – Victoria Grizzlies
Berger is the most experienced among this year’s crop of BCHL prospects. He went undrafted last year, but was later invited to Anaheim Ducks rookie camp in the summer. The North Vancouver, B.C. native took the league by storm this year, piling up goals like he was a first-line forward, finishing with 27 to lead all BCHL defencemen. His 63 points were also the most among blueliners and put him in the top-10 among all skaters in the league. His stellar play this year earned him a scholarship to the University of Connecticut next season.
After being passed over in the 2018 draft, this could be the year for Berger who is projected to be a mid to late round pick.
Ethan Leyh (F) – Langley Rivermen
As a member of one of the lowest-scoring teams in the BCHL, the 18-year-old from Port Moody, B.C. stood out as the top offensive player on the team, leading the Rivermen in scoring with 43 points in 51 games. Leyh stepped his game up in the playoffs as well, chipping in with eight points in seven contests as Langley nearly upset the top-ranked Chilliwack Chiefs in the first round. He was also a standout with Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge where he tied for the team-lead in points with five and won a bronze medal. He’s committed to Quinnipiac University next season.
Ranked as a “C Prospect” since the start of the year, Leyh remains in that range and could be a late-round pick.
Mason Snell (D) – Penticton Vees
After playing two years in the OJHL, Snell came over to the Vees to start last season and immediately became a steady presence on the blueline for a team that finished with the second-fewest goals allowed in the BCHL. The Clarington, Ont. native played in 52 games and registered five goals and 15 assists for 20 points. He is committed to Penn State University for the 2019-20 season.
Snell could be a late-round pick.
Nick Bochen (D) – Prince George Spruce Kings
Bochen was the leading scorer on a Spruce Kings blueline that was widely considered the best top-six in the BCHL. The North Vancouver, B.C. native ended the season with 38 points (eight goals, 30 assists) and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He went on to add another six points in the playoffs as the Spruce Kings won their first-ever league title and eventually won the Doyle Cup and appeared in the finals of the National Junior A Championships. Earlier this year, he earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan for the 2020-21 season.
Despite being unranked by most heading into the draft, Bochen could be taken in the late rounds.
The first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is on Friday, June 21 at 5 p.m. from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, while the second to seventh rounds kick off on Saturday, June 22 at 10 a.m.
The BCHL will be reporting live from the draft for both days, so follow our social media accounts for live, up-to-the-minute coverage. You can also watch the entire draft on Sportsnet.
About the BCHL:
Sending more players on to college hockey every season than any other hockey league in Canada, the BCHL has established itself as a national leader in the development of young student athletes. Considering today’s NHL features more NCAA alumni than ever before, Junior A hockey is fast rivaling Major Junior in Canada as a breeding ground for the sport’s most elite and successful players.