If you blinked, you may have missed the Kamloops Blazers’ contribution to the NHL draft that was held in Buffalo on Friday and Saturday.
Centre Garrett Pilon and goaltender Connor Ingram went back-to-back in the third round on Saturday. Pilon was taken by
the Washington Capitals with the 87th selection, while Ingram went to the Tampa Bay Lightning with the next pick.
Pilon, the son of former NHL defenceman Rich Pilon, had 47 points, including 15 goals, in his freshman season with Kamloops. He was selected by the Blazers in the seventh round of the 2013 WHL bantam draft. He joined the Blazers after winning the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League scoring title in 2014-15, with 87 points in 44 games for the Saskatoon Contacts.
Ingram, from Imperial, Sask., wasn’t taken in the bantam draft, nor was he selected a year ago when he first was eligible for the NHL draft.
But he put himself on the NHL radar with a terrific 2015-16 season, going 34-15-9, 2.61, .922 in 61 regular-season games. Ingram’s save percentage broke the franchise’s single-season record of .920 that had been held by Corey Hirsch since 1991-92.
Earlier this month, Ingram attended Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence goaltending camp in Calgary. He is one of
four goaltenders who has been invited to the national junior team’s summer development camp that starts July 30 in Toronto.
Czech defenceman Ondrej Vala, who was a WHL freshman last season, was in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings — he was No. 102 among North American skaters — but wasn’t drafted.
Defenceman Ryan Rehill, who played out his junior eligibility with the Blazers last season, wasn’t selected in the NHL draft. A fifth-round selection by the New Jersey Devils in the 2014 draft, he wasn’t able to sign a pro contract. When the Blazers’ season ended, he signed an amateur tryout deal with the Albany Devils, New Jersey’s AHL affiliate. However, he played in only one game in Albany.
After not being drafted this time around, Rehill, an Edmonton native who turns 21 on Nov. 7, is a free agent.
All told, NHL teams selected 34 WHL players, with five of those coming from the Calgary Hitmen and four each from the Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals.
If you haven’t already, visit TheCoachesSite.com for WHL news, game roundups and a whole lot more. When you get there, just click on Taking Note.