Blue-liner Chaz Reddekopp has joined the Ontario Reign, the top farm team of the Los Angeles Kings, becoming the third Royals player called up to the AHL since the weekend. The six-foot-four, 222-pound native of West Kelowna was drafted by the Kings in the seventh round, 187th overall, in the 2015 NHL draft.
Reddekopp broke his foot blocking a shot Feb. 15 in Medicine Hat and missed the rest of the Western Hockey League regular season before almost willing himself back for the playoffs. He clearly only was operating at about 50 per cent but won rave reviews for his dedication and resolve in even being on the ice in the Royals’ first-round playoff exit against Everett. Many drafted players might not have risked it.
He joins Royals forwards Matthew Phillips and Tyler Soy, who earlier received their AHL call-ups from Stockton and San Diego, respectively. Soy made his pro debut last weekend with the Gulls while Phillips has yet to dress with Stockton.
The three Royals will cross paths this week — either in the press box or on the ice — as Reddekopp and the Reign close out the regular season against Phillips and Stockton tonight before facing Soy and San Diego on Friday and Saturday.
In another quirk, Reddekopp is now teammates with former BCHL Victoria Grizzlies forward Joel Lowry, the son of Royals head coach Dave Lowry.
Ontario and San Diego have clinched playoff berths while Stockton is on the verge, meaning Reddekopp, Anaheim Ducks draft pick Soy and Calgary Flames prospect Phillips could be seeing their time up in the pros extended into the post-season.
None of the three Royals has been signed to pro contracts and all are up on amateur tryout agreements. Reddekopp and Soy, both 20, are eligible to return to Victoria next season as over-agers. The 19-year-old Phillips is almost guaranteed to be returned to the Royals.
“Any time you can play against pros helps in your development,” said Royals general manager Cam Hope.
“But sometimes you can be called up and put into a tough spot, regarding [lack of] ice time, if your AHL team is in a dogfight for a playoff spot.”
Meanwhile, forward Ryan Peckford missed much of the latter part of the regular season and defenceman Scott Walford the last part of the playoffs to injuries. But that didn’t stop both Royals from rising in the final rankings for the 2017 NHL draft.
Peckford ascended modestly, one spot to No. 86, among North American skaters. Walford went from 153rd at midseason to now being ranked 90th.
“Both [Peckford and Walford] have the three key ingredients pro teams are looking for,” Hope.
“They think the game through, have physical talent and are strong.”
Forward Dylan Coghlan from Nanaimo, who plays with the Tri-City Americans, is ranked 77th and blue-liner Brendan De Jong from Victoria, who plays for the Portland Winterhawks, is 87th.
A total of 58 WHL players were ranked for this year’s draft, including top-rated Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who leads a list of 13 WHL skaters cited as potential first-rounders.
The NHL draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.