Adam Dennis is hoping that the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is the first signal that good things are coming through the North Bay Battalion prospect pipeline in the future.
A handful of North Bay Battalion players are either rated or on the radar of NHL Scouts and GMs this weekend as the National Hockey League holds its annual entry draft online for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.
"For us it is a goal of ours, we want to get our players recognized at the draft," said Adam Dennis, Battalion GM.
"From our standpoint it does not really change much, I think it is a bit of a tough one too from our perspective especially it sometimes changes a players mindset when it is a draft year, I mean if this year was any indication, sometimes there is a lot that is out of your control."
Forwards Kyle Jackson and Matvei Petrov and goaltender Joe Vrbetic of the North Bay Battalion are among Ontario Hockey League skaters and netminders ranked by the National Hockey League’s central scouting department for the upcoming draft which begins Friday night with round one.
Left winger Jackson debuted at No. 158 on a list of 234 North American-based skaters, while Russian import Petrov is 35th on the 150-deep rankings of European-based skaters released in late May.
Vrbetic is rated sixth among 32 North American-based goaltenders for the draft, which is to be conducted virtually July 23-24. Only four OHL goalies made the list.
"As far as Joe goes, we have certainly had a number of calls," noted Dennis.
"I think everybody saw in his first year with our team just the growth that he had - with the struggles he had at the start of the season to a seasoned veteran by the end of the season so we are all missing that year in between but from our purposes, we know how much work he has put in.
While Vrbetic, Petrov and Jackson sit on the rankings, Dennis says he has fielded calls from NHL Scouts about defender Avery Winslow, twins Paul and Alex Christopoulos, and defenceman Ty Hollett
"For our guys we have a lot of good players - even more than just Joe and Kyle that really be in NHL Scout's minds over the next couple of years because of the work they have put in," said Dennis.
"There was a season loss so they were not able to show what they were able to do in their draft years but certainly, there's a number of guys that are going to be impactful players for us down the stretch in the next few years and I think that recognition is going to go hand in hand as we start to become a better team.
"No different than Kyle or the Christopolous twins, Ty Hollett, Avery Winslow, and Matvey Petrov we have been keeping tabs on him. For all these guys no matter Friday or Saturday nothing changes what they are going to do Sunday or Monday and that is preparing to be pros."
With files from Battalionhockey.com