Heading into his third full season in the Western Hockey League, Kelowna Rockets defenceman Jesse Lees was getting set for another day of his off season training program when he noticed he had a voice mail.
It was a scout for the Boston Bruins with a couple questions and an invite to the Bruins NHL training camp.
“I was making breakfast and got a voice mail from one of the scouts for Boston asking me what my plans were,” said Lees, who won’t turn 18 until mid September. “I gave them a call and they asked if I was interested in coming to rookie camp. It’s a great honour. It’s a great organization. It was really exciting news to get invited to an NHL camp.”
Lees was eligible for this year’s NHL Entry Draft but only by a matter of days. Had he been born two days later, the still 17-year-old would not have been eligible until 2014. It means he was one of the youngest players eligible in the NHL Entry Draft this year. Still he took notice when his name wasn’t called.
“It was stressful leading up to the draft and then nothing happened,” he said. “After that I was just working hard because this is a big season coming up for me. When I got the call (from Boston) it was exciting, pretty much a dream come true.”
Lees played in 66 games last season and had 12 goals and 18 assists and was a plus 37 in his second season in Kelowna. The Calgary native was the Rockets first round pick (9th overall) in 2009 and has played in 128 games, before the age of 18.
At six-feet tall, Lees says he’s been working on strength and agility this off season.
“This year I’ve worked a lot on my strength,” he said. “I need to get stronger. I’m not the tallest guy for a defenceman so I have to have more muscle to use my body position. I’ve worked on my balance quite a bit too so I can be stronger in the corners.”
Lees will arrive back in Kelowna at the start of the Rockets training camp Aug. 21. He will leave in early September for Boston’s training camp in Massachusetts.