Photo credit: Dan Hickling
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.
Nick Roukounakis is set to join the West Kelowna Warriors for his rookie season in the BCHL in 2021-22, but he has some potential business to take care of prior to that. The 17-year-old from Pembroke, Mass. is ranked as the 184th North American skater ahead of this weekend’s draft and he would like nothing more than to hear his name called.
Roukounakis joins the Warriors from Thayer Academy in Massachusetts where a number of recent BCHL players have come from. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound power forward had his prep season interrupted by COVID restrictions last year, but that freed up an opportunity for him to play some games with the U.S. National Development Team and gain some valuable experience playing with some of the top players in his age group.
Roukounakis joined us to talk about the draft, his commitment to Boston University and his expectations for next year in West Kelowna.
BCHL: You spent several years at Thayer Academy. What was your experience like there?
Roukounakis: It was just a great experience. It was a good time for development and I had some great coaching. Learning the game through the older students and athletes there, it’s just a great way to develop. Prep hockey on the east coast is probably the best place to be. That and Minnesota high-school hockey I’d say are the two top-tier places to be when going through those important development years.
BCHL: You also spent some time last year with the U.S. National Development Team. How did that help your development?
Roukounakis: It was an honour to be able to be able to represent the country. It was a great experience to see the kids at my age who are regarded as the top players and see how I fit in with them, how my game matched up with theirs and how I was able to fit in against older college teams and older junior teams that we played against.
BCHL: Why did you end up choosing to come out to the BCHL and play with the Warriors?
Roukounakis: I got a call midway through the year and I talked to a few kids in prep that I knew personally that have gone out to West Kelowna and just heard all the good things they had to say about the coaching, the team, the lifestyle and everything like that. It was just a no-brainer for me to go out there next year. I feel like my playing style as a power forward fits into their lineup well.
BCHL: Beyond the BCHL, you’re committed to Boston University. What was it about that school that was the right fit?
Roukounakis: BU has always been a dream school of mine, growing up in the Boston area and, as a kid, going to the games with my dad at Agganis Arena. It’s just always been the school that I wanted to play hockey at. When I got that call, it was just a no-brainer for me that this was the place I wanted to play hockey when my college years rolled around.
BCHL: You’re ranked as the 184th North American skater by NHL Central Scouting ahead of the draft this weekend. What was your reaction when you saw your name there?
Roukounakis: It’s definitely exciting to see your name on that list with all those other great and talented kids and knowing that people see your game, and think you fit in there. You never know how the draft rankings will matchup to the draft day when people fall and people move up in the draft. It was definitely a good feeling to see my name there, but there’s a lot more work to be done, especially through the draft and after, depending on what happens.
BCHL: If you were speaking to an NHL general manager that was thinking of selecting you, how would you describe your game and how would it translate to the pro level?
Roukounakis: I’m a big, strong power forward. I use my size and my body as an advantage. I’m the type of kid that will go into the corner for puck battles. I like to drive the net hard and I’m not afraid to get to the dirty areas where a lot of other guys shy away.
BCHL: What would it mean to you and your family if you were drafted?
Roukounakis: It would be a dream come true. I think every kid that grows up playing hockey, their dream is to get drafted to the NHL. One step further than that would be playing in the NHL and having that first game under your belt and your career going from there. It would be a huge accomplishment for me and a great thing that I could share with my dad and my family.