Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
The 2023 NHL Draft is set to take place on June 28 and 29 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings include five players that played in the BCHL last year and another two who are BCHL alumni in college hockey.
Leading up to the draft, we will share interviews with the prospects about the draft process and a variety of other subjects.
The BCHL’s 2023 NHL Draft coverage is presented by Chevrolet.
For the second year in a row, Penticton Vees blueliner Ryan Hopkins was a key part of one of the best defensive groups the BCHL has seen in recent years. After putting up 31 points as a rookie, he exceeded expectations in 2022-23 and finished as the league’s third highest scoring defenceman with 49 points in 48 games.
Hopkins, who is in his second year of draft eligibility, was also part of a large group of returning players last year who won their second straight Fred Page Cup championship. Hopkins joined us to speak about the draft, his team’s two championship seasons and attending the University of Maine next year.
BCHL: Your team surrendered the fewest goals against in a single season in the modern BCHL. What was it like being part of such a good group of defencemen?
Hopkins: We had a really strong group guys who came to work every single night. The most important thing was taking care of our defensive zone and working together, not just as pairs, but as a whole D corps. We did a really good job of communicating on the back end and adjusting to all the little things that each team did.
BCHL: You and a lot of your teammates chose to come back to Penticton for a second year when maybe you could have headed to college. What led to that decision in your case?
Hopkins: Personally, I felt like I needed another year of junior to grow physically and mentally. Taking that second year was a really smart decision for me. Going to play college, guys are going to be bigger and stronger, so having that extra year will allow me to be more prepared. It was the same thing for a lot of the other guys that came back.
BCHL: You were a part of two consecutive championship teams. What does that do for your development?
Hopkins: It’s really valuable. It taught me how much of a team we really needed to be and how much work we have to put in to be a championship team. Everyone sees the wins, but no one saw what was going on behind the scenes with our workouts and our practices. We brought it every single day and that’s a difficult thing to do.
BCHL: How would you describe yourself as a player and how would your game translate to the pro level?
Hopkins: I play a good two-way game. I pay attention to all my details in the defensive zone and I work hard in the corners and battle. I bring the offensive part of my game as well. I’ll be the third or fourth guy into the rush and be that second wave of offence. I’m good at getting pucks through to the net. It’s something that will translate pretty well. I think I can do what I do every time I go up a level.
BCHL: How much are you looking forward to starting your NCAA career next year?
Hopkins: It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. It’s crazy to think it’s already here. It’s really exciting. It’s another dream of mine that’s coming true.
BCHL: Three of your teammates from Penticton last year are also set to join you at Maine – the Nadeau brothers and Thomas Pichette. Will that help with the transition?
Hopkins: It will make it much easier. Coming from a team that did what we did the last few years, we have a lot of good memories together. To be able to keep going with those memories, it will be really special for us. I don’t think too many guys get to play their whole junior career and then go to college together. For all of us, we all went into Penticton at the same time and we’re all going to college at the same time.