Eight players from the B.C. Hockey League made it onto the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s list of players to watch for the 2021 entry draft – and four of them belong to the Penticton Vees.
Captain and forward Fin Williams made the cut, along with blue-liners Jack Bar, Jason Marsella and Owen Murray.
Bar was given a B grade, meaning he’s projected to go in the second or third round of the draft, while the other three were all assigned C grades, meaning they’re expected to go in the fourth round or later.
Bar, 18, is entering his first season with the Vees. He has two goals and five points through nine games in the four-team Okanagan Cup tournament.
The six-foot-two, 194-pound defender spent the last two seasons playing prep hockey at St. Andrew’s College, where the Newmarket, Ont., native suited up in 122 career games, scoring 34 goals and adding 57 assists for 91 points during that span.
Bar is committed to Harvard University.
Marsella came to Penticton after playing with Avon Old Farms in the U.S. high school prep circuit a year ago. The five-foot-10, 180-pounder has one goal through six games in the Okanagan Cup. He is committed to Yale University.
Murray played parts of two seasons with the Portage Terriers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The Decker, Man., product was a CJHL Rookie of the Year finalist in 2019 while being named the MJHL Rookie of the year. He is committed to play his collegiate hockey at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
And finally, Williams arrived in Penticton after winning a league championship with the Prince George Spruce Kings in 2018-19. He has three goals and seven points in seven games of the Okanagan Cup. The six-foot, 190-pound native of North Vancouver is set to play at the University of Michigan following his BCHL career.
The top BCHL player on the Central Scouting Bureau’s list is Trail forward Kent Johnson, who was given an A grade and is projected to go in the first round of the draft. He has 147 points in 112 regular-season games with the Smoke Eaters.
Chilliwack Chiefs forward Ayrton Matino is the only other BCHL’er to receive a B grade, while forwards Charles-Alexis Legault of the West Kelowna Warriors and Sasha Teleguine of the Chiefs were listed in the C class.
The 2021 NHL draft is tentatively set for June 2021, although the 2020 edition was only staged in October due to the pandemic rearranging the 2019-20 regular season.