Willick awaits NHL Entry Draft
If Dylan Willick is manning the barbecue in Prince George on the weekend, the steaks might turn out a little tough.
The NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota will be of more concern to the 18-year-old Kamloops Blazer forward than the rareness of anyone’s top sirloin.
“I’ll have the computer on at all times,” said Willick, who was ranked 164th among North American draft-eligible skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
“Most of the time, I’ll be sitting there staring at the screen.”
Round 1 of the draft will be held today (June 24), with rounds two through six going on Saturday, June 25.
The draft-day barbecue will double as a Willick-family goodbye party, as the hockey player’s family — parents Melissa and Blaine, along with sisters Devin, 17, and Dakota, 13 — are making the move to Kamloops from Prince George.
A momentous occasion it will be, especially if Willick realizes his childhood dream of being drafted into the NHL.
Neither No. 11 or his agent, Jerrold Colton of CS Sports Management, have heard a peep from any NHL scouts or general managers
“It’s weird, especially when you’re getting told from people that you’re still in the conversation and you’re still being talked about, but nobody is talking to you,” said Willick, who was working out with Blazer teammate Josh Caron at Interior Savings Centre on Wednesday, June 22.
The hard-working forward — who prefers playing centre — spent a lot of time on the left wing last season.
Willick played the full 72-game schedule in the 2010-2011 campaign, notching 24 goals and 44 points.
He admits to scouring hockey-scouting websites and blogs to get the lowdown on what experts have to say about his game.
“My agent has been really good in showing me sites that have been talking about me or have a certain ranking system,” Willick said.
“He lets me know so I can go and read the articles and keep tabs on what people are thinking.
“So far, 140th [among North American skaters] was the highest I’ve seen myself ranked. It’s in that area.”
Centre Colin Smith, at No. 96, and defenceman Tyler Hansen, at No. 131, are the only other Blazers ranked by NHL Central Scouting.
Grit, intelligence, speed and strong defensive play are staples of Willick’s game, and those attributes are often mentioned on websites like thescoutingreport.org and hockeyprospect.com.
On the flip-side of the coin, a lack of size and finish are said to tarnish his draft value.
As for the size, well, there isn’t much the five-foot-10 forward can do about that, but Willick plans on improving his point totals next season.
“Up until peewee, I was a goal scorer, then size started to make a difference and coaches started preaching defence and penalty kill,” Willick said.
“I switched from the offensive force to being the more defensively reliable guy. I still know how to score.
“I’ll be working on my stick skills so, when I do get those opportunities, I actually finish them a bit more often.”
Willick likens his game to that of Ryan Kesler’s and hopes scouts can see the similarities.
If asked by any NHL scout or GM why they should spend a draft pick on him, this is how Willick said he would respond: “If you guys are asking for a certain type of player, I can adapt and fit in where you need me to fit in and I’ll work harder than anyone else to get to that spot.”
As for which NHL team he would like to play for, Willick said he couldn’t care less.
“I’d be happy with whoever takes me.”