By calling his name in the opening round of the 2012 bantam draft, the Victoria Royals were projecting Chaz Reddekopp to become an important piece of the WHL team’s future.
In the three years since, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound defenceman from West Kelowna hasn’t disappointed.
Reddekopp, 18, has evolved into a top-four blueliner for the Royals, while also garnering his share of attention from pro scouts.
In the latest Central Scouting report released this week, Reddekopp is ranked 82nd among North American skaters—up from 199th at midterm—making him a potential third- to fourth-round pick in this summer’s NHL draft.
After a typically up-and-down rookie season with the Royals, Reddekopp has come into his own as a sophomore WHL defenceman.
“He had a bit of an issue with consistency at first, but now he just keeps getting better every day,” said Royals assistant coach Enio Sacilotto. “The progress he’s shown since November has been incredible. He’s a big-bodied player, a good kid who works hard.
“He’s still young and he’s still learning,” added Sacilotto, “but we expect him to be a force to be reckoned with as a junior player and one day as a pro as well.”
Paired this season with captain Joe Hicketts, Reddekopp is logging plenty of ice time and is most often pitted against the opposition’s top lines.
For the former Pursuit of Excellence rearguard, it’s been a positive growth experience.
“After I got that first year under my belt and got the chance to play more this season, I started gaining confidence and I feel like I’ve continued to improve,” Reddekopp said.
“When (Royals defenceman) Keegan Kanzig was traded to Calgary, he was a huge part of our defensive corps, so that really gave me a big opportunity. The coaches have shown trust in me and have really helped me.”
While Reddekopp first began attending Kelowna Rockets’ games shortly after moving to West Kelowna in Grade 4 he is, not surprisingly, no longer a supportive fan of the WHL team.
At the same time, he couldn’t be more excited with the prospects of his Royals taking on the favoured Rockets in the second round of the playoffs.
“When you look back at the season series, most of the games I think were pretty close and hard-fought,” he said. “We know how good they are, we’re expecting a lot from them, they played a very skilled game. We just can’t take any nights off against them and we know if we play every minutes, we give ourselves a good chance.
“I think it’ll be a great series, an entertaining series between two teams who don’t like each other.”
Reddekopp and the Royals face off against the Rockets in the Western Conference semifinal series Friday night at Prospera Place.