If the latest rankings are an accurate reflection of a player’s stock, then NHL scouts are once again taking a genuine interest in Rourke Chartier.
The 18-year-old Kelowna Rockets’ centre was rated 136th among North American skaters this week in Central Scouting’s final list of draft-eligible prospects.
Chartier was one of four Rockets to be ranked, joining forward Justin Kirkland in the 67th spot, defenceman Riley Stadel in the 99th position, and centre Tyson Baillie in the 141st spot.
Chartier, a Saskatoon native, began the season in the rankings but, after a slow start to 2013-14, had slipped off the map when Central Scouting issued its midterm report.
But Chartier then re-emerged with a strong finish to the WHL season, scoring 16 goals and 41 points in his last 37 games.
He finished the regular season with 24 goals and 58 points, and added eight points in his first seven playoff games this spring.
Rockets head coach Ryan Huska isn’t the least bit surprised Chartier has moved back onto the radar for this summer’s NHL draft.
“Rourke had a real tough stretch early in the season, but then really found his game hasn’t looked back,” Huska said. “He has done a lot of great things for us and just showed us how valuable a player he is.
“As a coach, I’d like to have a team full of players like Rourke,” added Huska. “He does things the right way and is as coachable a player as you’ll ever have.”
Kirkland, 18, moved up seven spots from the midseason rankings, from 74th.
The 6-foot-3, 189-pound Camrose, Alta. native had a WHL career high 17 goals and 41 points this season.
“Justin has a pretty good package, as far as his size and skills go,” said Huska. “He’s a hard guy not to notice and he’s improved his game significantly since the beginning of the season.
Stadel, from Surrey, slipped from 58th to 99th in the rankings. The 5-foot-10, 162-pound defenceman had 10 goals and 35 points during the regular season.
Baillie, a third-year centre with the Rockets, had 55 points in 56 games with the Rockets, before missing the last five weeks of the regular season with a leg injury.
Warriors’ Cotton ranked…
West Kelowna Warriors’ forward Jason Cotton has been ranked 162nd among North America skaters for the June draft.
The Plano, Texas-born centre, who was rated 118th in midseason, had 23 goals and 59 points in 50 games during the regular season.
Cotton was the top-ranked BCHL player.