Scheduled first-rounder Matthew Wood leads strong Island class in NHL Draft standings

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Matthew Wood, Nanaimo’s six-foot-three power forward, continues to up his game and reputation among the 27 players who received A-ratings on Tuesday by Central Scouting as first-round draft hopefuls. 2023 NHL.

But it’s not the ranking, it’s what you make of it, he said.

“It’s what you do after the draft that matters,” Wood said, over the phone from Storrs, where he’s a standout freshman in the NCAA Division. 1 with the University of Connecticut Huskies.

Wood showed high-end skill, combined with a physical element, winning the BC Hockey League scoring title last season with 45 goals and 85 points in 46 games at age 17. years with the Victoria Grizzlies and being named BCHL Rookie of the Year and finalist as league MVP. His big promise was actually evident earlier than that when he scored five goals with 13 points in 18 games as a 16-year-old with the Grizzlies in the pandemic-abbreviated 2021 BCHL bubble season.

Wood has denied fears in some hockey circles that he may have jumped from the Grizzlies to the NCAA too soon. The Islander has three goals and seven points in eight games as a rookie at UConn.

“It’s different from junior — bigger, stronger, faster, more amped up and you have to get your passes faster — but a lot of the older guys got me used to the college game,” Wood said.

“I have confidence in myself and I believe in myself and I’m as prepared as I’m going to be.”

This confidence involves believing in the road he has taken. The consensus first pick for the 2023 NHL Draft is Connor Bedard of the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, who will be in Victoria on November 26 to face the Royals. Wood was selected by the Pats in the WHL prospect draft, but instead chose the BCHL and NCAA route.

“The campus, the buildings are beautiful and it’s great to be a part of it all,” he said.

“We hope to get people talking about hockey [UConn is more well known for basketball].”

Meanwhile, Victoria forward Ty Halaburda received a B-rating as a prospect for the second and third rounds of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. The five-foot-11, shrewd and fast forward has three goals and eight points in 10 games this season with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL.

Royals defenseman Kalem Parker, Grizzlies defenseman Hoyt Stanley and Victoria guard Dylan Compton of Shawnigan Lake School, who plays for the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, received C ratings as fourth-place prospects. in the sixth round of the 2023 NHL Draft.

Royals forward Brayden Schuurman – who, along with Parker, Wood and Bedard, represented Canada at the 2022 IIHF World U-18 Championship in Germany – has been placed on the restricted-viewing portion of the list released Tuesday by NHL Central Scouting. Schuurman returned to the Royals’ roster for the first time this season on Saturday in the 6-5 overtime loss to Halaburda and the Giants at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Center after being injured in NHL rookie camp of the Boston Bruins.

Bedard is among seven WHL players who have received an A rating. Others include Giants forward Samuel Honzek, who scored the winner in overtime against the Royals on Saturday night at the Memorial Centre, and forward Zach Benson of the Winnipeg Ice, who scored against the Royals on Blanshard Street last week. Prince George Cougars forward Riley Heidt, Moose Jaw Warriors forward Brayden Yager, and Carson Bjarnason and Noah Danielson, who also came through Memorial Center early in the season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, also get A ratings.

Halaburda is one of 12 B-rated WHL players, Parker is one of 23 C-rated WHL players, and Schuurman is the WHL’s only limited-viewing designee. A total of 21 of the 22 WHL teams have signed players on the roster, led by the Giants with five and the Wheat Kings, Warriors, Kamloops Blazers, Portland Winterhawks and Saskatoon Blades with three players each. Victoria is one of seven WHL teams with two players on the roster. There are eight WHL teams with one player listed.

Stanley, Compton and Wood are among the 12 current or former BCHL players named. Of the BCHL’s nine currently ranked players, Penticton Vees forward Bradley Nadeau is the highest with a B rating.

“There’s a lot of talent in this class through A, B, C for guys that aren’t ranked,” Wood said.

The 2023 NHL Draft will take place June 28-29 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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