Logan Stankoven has done everything in his power to prove he is worthy of being selected in the first round of the NHL Draft.
Whether all the work pays off with the realization of his Round 1 goal will be determined on Friday, July 23, in the virtual draft, which gets underway at 5 p.m. on Sportsnet.
“When I think of the draft, I think of so many people who have helped me get to where I am and to have this opportunity is pretty humbling,” Stankoven, the Kamloops Blazers’ forward who turned 18 in February, told KTW on Thursday.
NHL Central Scouting stoked an already burning fire last October by giving Stankoven a “B” rating on its players-to-watch list, projecting he will be selected in either Round 2 or Round 3 of the 2021 NHL Draft.
“I don’t like to be a cocky human being, but having that confidence and swagger that I am good enough to potentially be a first-rounder or an A-rated prospect is something I really strive toward,” said Stankoven, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound Kamloops product who attends Valleyview secondary.
“That just brings out the hunger in me and makes me want to prove myself to, hopefully, move up in those rankings and just skyrocket.”
Stankoven was hungry and he ate.
He played in six regular-season WHL games in the pandemic-shortened 2021 WHL campaign, racking up 10 points, including seven goals, three of which were game winners.
Team Canada scooped him away from the Blazers in time for the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 World Championship, which ran from April 26 to May 6 near Dallas, Tex.
Stankoven, who was nabbed by the Blazers fifth overall in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, notched four goals and eight points in seven games for Canada and led the tournament with a plus-14 rating.
The former St. Ann’s Academy student bagged the game-winning goal in a 5-3 victory over Russia in the gold-medal game.
“I had to mentally prepare myself to realize that, hey, every game I’m going to have from the beginning of my Blazer season to the draft is going to mean a lot for where I slot in,” Stankoven said.
Stankoven slots in 31st among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, which were released on May 27.
TSN’s final NHL Draft rankings, compiled by analyst Bob McKenzie, were released earlier this week and peg Stankoven 27th overall, a jump of 17 spots from the mid-term rankings published in April.
Owen Power, a 6-foot-6 defenceman from Mississauga, Ont., sits atop McKenzie’s list.
Stankoven, a right-shot forward, has become proficient in pre-draft interviews with NHL clubs, ready for curveballs, softballs and changeups.
“They really try to figure out some of your background and personal information, I guess just in terms of what type of person you are and how you are away from the rink,” Stankoven said.
The Boston Bruins, Seattle Kraken and Los Angeles Kings have each interviewed Stankoven on multiple occasions.
“They seem pretty interested,” he said.
Blazers’ play-by-play man Jon Keen’s gut feel is if Stankoven is picked in Round 1, he will land with New Jersey, Detroit or Columbus, the three teams slated to pick at least twice in the opening round of the draft.
“I’d just be grateful for whatever team takes me,” Stankoven said.
Thirty-two NHL hats arrived recently at the Stankoven residence. Don’t expect to find 31 of them on Facebook marketplace.
“I know a couple of my family members and friends have already called dibs on a few of the hats if I don’t get drafted by that certain team they like,” he said with a laugh.
Stankoven blasted off in the second half of the 2019-2020 season, tallying 18 goals in 30 games for the Blazers after the Christmas break.
He finished the campaign with 48 points in 59 games and was named Western Conference rookie of the year.
His rise in the WHL was preceded by a standout career in the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association, a dominant stretch with Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford and a record-breaking stint with the Thompson Blazers in the B.C. Major Midget League, among many other resume-boosting accomplishments with select teams.
Perhaps the Buffalo Sabres’ thoughts on what to do with the No. 1 selection in the 2021 NHL Draft were altered on Thursday, when Stankoven padded his stats with a five-point night in Kamloops Ball Hockey League post-season action at Valleyview Arena.
Stay tuned, Owen Power.
“My parents and the rest of my family are just as excited as I am and it’s going to be a special weekend for all of us,” Stankoven said.
On Wednesday, Stankoven was invited to Hockey Canada’s national junior team summer development camp, an underage addition to the proceedings that will run from July 28 to Aug. 4 in Calgary.
His Blazers’ teammate Dylan Garand, a goaltender who his heading into his 19-year-old campaign, was also named to the camp roster.
Garand, a New York Rangers’ draft pick, played for Canada at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton, earning a silver medal in a backup role.
ON THE RADAR
Stankoven is not the only Blazer who earned a place in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings.
Caedan Bankier, a forward who turned 18 in January, slots in at 102nd among North American skaters and Josh Pillar, a 19-year-old forward, is 166th among North American skaters.
Tyson Galloway of the Calgary Hitmen, a defenceman from Kamloops, is ranked 165th among North American skaters.