Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro are in a class of their own after NHL Central Scouting released its initial Players to Watch List.
Jost and Fabbro of the Penticton Vees are the lone BCHLers given an A rating, meaning they are projected first round picks for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Craig Demetrick, an amateur scout for the Florida Panthers, agreed they are top prospects compared to others he has seen.
“They would be pretty highly regarded players,” said Demetrick. “They are very high skilled. They are very good skaters for their age group, they are strong and fast.”
Amateur scouts George Fargher and Marty Stein had praise for Fabbro.
“Dante on defence is very, very poised with the puck. Real good passer,” said Fargher, of the Ottawa Senators. “He sees the ice really well. Very strong on his skates, has a good shot from the point.”
“Fabbro was very, very steady,” said Stein of the Detroit Red Wings, who watched both players during the Bauer BCHL Showcase. “He does stand out because he’s so steady. He does everything so smooth and so right.”
Fargher described Jost as a skilled centre who possesses good vision, puck skills and can make plays in tight areas. The main thing he said Jost needs to do is get stronger.
Jost helped the Vees win both their games in the Bauer BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack last week. Jost netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 win against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. It’s the second time he has done that against the Bulldogs in the Showcase.
“It’s kind of crazy. That’s not a big deal,” said the Vees’ captain, who along with Fabbro is featured on giant posters pinned to walls inside the entrance of the South Okanagan Events Centre. “I’m just happy we got the two wins. If it happens that I get a hat-trick, I get a hat-trick. If it happens that I get no goals, I get no goals. All I care if is we win.”
Goalie Anthony Brodeur was key to helping the Vees improve their record to 8-0 in the history of the Showcase as he made 56 saves in both games combined. The Vees’ second win was a 2-1 overtime decision over the Chiefs.
“I’m feeling confident. As a goalie that’s probably the biggest thing there is,” said Brodeur, now sporting a Vees-themed mask with the Ogopogo on the sides. “You need to feel confident in your game. The puck is going to seem like a volleyball instead of a little golf ball. I’m happy with the way our team is playing.”
Part of that for Brodeur is finding a comfort zone with his defenceman, who make his job easier by stepping in front of shots.
“I’m there to be the last line of defence. They haven’t really had to count on me too much,” said Brodeur, who is 4-0 with a 1.16 goals against average and .958 save percentage. “I have just been making the saves that I have had to.”
“He was awesome,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson. “He’s been great since the regular season started. He’s been real calm in the net, practicing really hard. His work ethic in practice has been outstanding. It’s been translating into games.”
On Monday, the Vees announced that they shipped Brodeur’s partner Émilien Boily to the OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for future considerations. In a similar deal, the Vees acquired Zach Driscoll, a 1997-born goalie from the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. Harbinson said Boily played well in the short time with the team, however, they couldn’t pass up the chance to get Driscoll, who is committed to St. Cloud State. The Lancers felt they could move Driscoll since they had a No.1 goalie.
“Now we feel we have two guys that can definitely man the net real well,” said Harbinson. “For Émilien it gives him an opportunity to be a No.1 goalie.”
Driscoll learned that he was being traded on Sept. 21.
“I’m excited to play junior hockey in Canada,” he said. The five-foot-11 puckstopper relies on his speed and reaction to keep the puck out. He grew up liking the playing styles of Stanley Cup winners Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick.
The Vees also moved Tyler Holz to the Merritt Centennials for future considerations. The trade was made to give him a chance to play.
“We have seven outstanding defenceman. I kind of left it up to him,” said Harbinson. “There was a couple of teams that had interest. I left it up to him where he wanted to go. He thought Merritt would be a good opportunity. Hopefully it works out for him there. For us, you got Sam Jones who didn’t play last weekend who has been outstanding. He looked great in practice, has been working his butt off. It’s going to be hard enough getting seven guys involved, never mind eight.”
The Vees have one roster spot open and are carrying 12 forwards at the moment.
As the Showcase got underway on Sept.24, College Hockey Inc. posted an info graphic on its Twitter account on the impact of British Columbia hockey products in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and NHL. The NCAA had 114 B.C. natives play division 1 hockey last year, which is the highest per capita of any province. One in three NHL players from B.C. played NCAA. The BCHL also leads the way with the most division 1 players of any Canadian Junior Hockey League as 58 of 59 teams had a BCHL player on its roster last season.
Stanley Cup champion and B.C. product Willie Mitchell said this: “To get a great education and play great hockey at the same time, you couldn’t ask for more.”