The NHL Central Scouting's preliminary draft rankings have left a smile on Victoria Grizzlies defenceman Nolan De Jong's face.
"It's exciting," De Jong said of the recent ratings that include him in the C classification which considers him to be a fourth-to sixth-round selection.
"Obviously there's still a long way to go in the season and definitely room for improvement.
"If I can keep up with what I'm doing, on and off the ice, I'm pretty confident I can stay where I am," said the 17-year-old who recently returned from the World Junior A Challenge where he helped Canada's Team West to a silver medal in Nova Scotia.
The international tournament was well attended by scouts and although there was little time to converse, the exposure could go a long way to being drafted next summer.
De Jong has already had casual discussions with the Dallas Stars and there have been many other NHL scouts at Bear Mountain Arena and throughout the B.C. Hockey League.
"They said they would keep watching me and if I can keep this going, the attention will be there," said De Jong, who has always aspired to be an NHLer.
"It's a goal of mine and you have to work hard to get there, so I'm going to do everything in my power to make it work for me."
De Jong is the lone Grizzly included on the list, but he is joined in the C classification by Victoria natives Wade Murphy and Chad Katunar, who both play with the RBC Cup-champion Penticton Vees.
No members of the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League were included in the rankings.
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