Photo credit: Kyle Robinson
For the second year in a row, the NHL Draft will be held virtually, this time on Jul. 23 and 24. This year, there are nine current, former and future BCHL players that made NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings.
Leading up to the draft, we will be speaking with the prospects to get their thoughts on the process and variety of other subjects.
The BCHL’s 2021 NHL Draft coverage is presented by Chevrolet.
Ellis Rickwood took the BCHL by storm as a rookie in the pod season. The Brantford, Ont. native notched four goals in his regular-season debut and carried that momentum all the way through to the finish line, taking home Island Pod MVP, Top Scorer and Top Rookie, while leading the Grizzlies to first place in the pod.
Unsurprisingly, his strong play caught the attention of scouts from the NCAA as well as the NHL. In late May, he was named the 144th-ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for the 2021 draft. He also recently announced his commitment to Clarkson University for the 2022-23 campaign.
Rickwood will be back with the Grizzlies next season and we were able to catch up with him to discuss the draft, his rookie year in the BCHL and much more.
BCHL: You were named the Island Pod MVP, Top Scorer and Top Rookie and led your team to first place in the pod standings. How would you assess your first year in the league?
Rickwood: I had a really good season. I don’t think it could have went any better for me. I had a lot of success and a lot of fun doing it.
BCHL: Why do you think you were able to come in and have that kind of success right away.
Rickwood: We were practicing for about five months in a row there when we were shut down and I think I just really focused on getting better every day. It was pretty crazy. We weren’t sure if we were going to start or not, but I just wanted to go to the rink and really work on the small things and get better every day and I think that really helped me when it came time to start the season. I was ready to go.
BCHL: You weren’t on any of Central Scouting’s Players to Watch lists throughout the year, but you popped up on their final rankings. How much of that do you attribute to the pod season?
Rickwood: I think that was everything. Just having that really good pod season and having that success really just boosted my draft stock. If we didn’t have the pod season, I don’t think we’d be talking about any of this right now.
BCHL: If you were speaking with an NHL general manager who was thinking of selecting you in the draft, how would you describe your game and how would it translate to the pro level?
Rickwood: I’m a right wing and centre. Having versatility is very valuable. I’m a big guy that can slow the play down. I can score goals and I can make plays.
BCHL: Are there any areas of your game in particular that you’re working on improving this offseason?
Rickwood: Every level you go up in hockey, everyone gets stronger. That’s one thing everyone has to do is get stronger every day. That’s what I’m really focused on. Along with that, I want to get quicker. I’m doing lots of stuff on the ice and off the ice to improve my speed.
BCHL: The Grizzlies iced a strong team last year in both the extended training camp and the pod season. What are you expecting from the 2021-22 version?
Rickwood: We have a young group, but there’s a lot of talent coming through. Last year, we were a really good offensive team. That’s what Victoria is always like. We just have to continue to be offensive and put up the goals, but also play well defensively. We don’t want to have too many more of those 9-8 wins.
BCHL: With a full 54-game schedule out and trending towards having fans in the stands, how much are you looking forward to playing a more normal season compared to last year?
Rickwood: It’s just going to be a nice relief. It was pretty hard on everyone last year – the players, staff, everyone. It obviously wasn’t ideal and there was a lot of adversity, but having a full season is going to be really nice. Everyone is going to be able to take in that Junior A experience.