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Cougars to watch for in Wednesday’s NHL draft

Riley Heidt

Nashville, Tennessee is the home of the 2023 NHL Draft and will be welcoming hundreds of hockey’s top prospects. The NHL Draft is a crucial event where young hockey prospects could be selected by an NHL team and begin their professional careers. It is a moment of anticipation and excitement for the players and their families.

The draft process is just the beginning of a player’s journey towards the NHL. After being selected, prospects attend development camps organized by their respective NHL teams. These camps provide an opportunity for players to showcase their skills and continue their development.

It is worth noting that not all players are drafted into the NHL. However, there are still opportunities for undrafted players to earn NHL contracts. Some Cougars, like Chase Wheatcroft and Jaxsen Wiebe, who played for the Cougars this past season, did not get drafted but earned NHL contracts before graduating from the Western Hockey League.

NHL Central Scouting Rankings

Three Prince George Cougars during the 2022-23 season were recognized by NHL Central Scouting.

  • Riley Heidt finished as the highest-ranked Cougar, owning the 21st spot on the list. The 2005-born forward from Saskatoon, SK paced the WHL in assists with 72 (tied with Connor Bedard) and power-play assists with 39. Heidt finished 2022-23 with a career-high 25 goals and 72 assists in 68 games, and was invited to participate in the NHL/CHL Top Prospects game in January. Heidt also attended the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, NY from June 4-10.
  • Koehn Ziemmer ranked 25th on NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings. Ziemmer, like Heidt, had a tremendous 2022-23 campaign scoring 41 times and amassed 48 assists in 68 games. Ziemmer sat 2nd among all Cougars in game winning goals with six. The Mayerthorpe, AB product also participated in the NHL/CHL Top Prospect’s Game in January. Ziemmer is fresh off the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, NY from June 4-10. Ziemmer finished with the best numbers in the Anaerobic Fitness: Fatigue Test which is the 30 second bike test.
  • Hudson Thornton slots in at 206th on NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings. The 19-year-old from Winnipeg, MB had a phenomenal season which included setting two franchise records. Thornton’s 23 goals and 74 points in 2022-23 is the most by a Cougar defenceman in a single season. Thornton finished 5th among all WHL blue-liners in points and 2nd in power-play goals (12).

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