Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
For the first time in two years, the NHL Draft will be held in person, this time on July 7 and 8 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que. This year, NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings include five players that played in the BCHL last season.
Leading up to the draft, we will speak with the prospects to get their thoughts on the process and a variety of other subjects.
The BCHL’s 2022 NHL Draft coverage is presented by Chevrolet.
West Kelowna Warriors defenceman Tyson Jugnauth finished his second BCHL season as the league’s second-highest scoring defenceman with 50 points in 52 games and was named a First-Team All-Star, as well as the winner of the league’s Top Defenceman Award.
After debuting as a regular in the league during the pod season in 2021, Jugnauth would go on to play a total of 75 regular-season games in his career, totaling 67 points.
He sat down with us to talk about his strong sophomore season, the NHL Draft process and his future at the University of Wisconsin.
BCHL: You enjoyed a successful 2021-22 season personally and from a team perspective with the Warriors making it to the Interior Conference Final. What were your impressions of your second BCHL season?
Jugnauth: I thought it was a pretty good year for me. I played up to my expectations. I thought I could be a good player in this league.
We had a really close group of guys. It was tough to lose out to Penticton in the third round, but I think overall, our season was really good.
BCHL: You got 20 games in during the pod season as a rookie. What did that do to prepare you for your second year?
Jugnauth: Even though it was a short year, we had it better than some other leagues with the pod. At the start of the year, we had the Okanagan Cup between us, Salmon Arm, Vernon and Penticton. We got in 16 games there, practiced all year and then had the pod season. It helped me for this year, getting to know the league and the players. It was obviously a bit weird because the pod wasn’t like the regular season, but it’s something that really helped me move forward to have a good second year in the BCHL.
BCHL: You come into the NHL Draft as the highest-ranked skater from the BCHL. Does that make it even more special knowing that you’re listed ahead of your peers in the league?
Jugnauth: It’s something you work towards, even as a little kid, to be drafted to the NHL. Being on those lists is always an honour, but seeing my name up high is really special. This list doesn’t guarantee anything, but it maybe makes it a step closer to the NHL. I just have to keep working and hopefully I’ll hear my name called on draft day.
BCHL: You obviously knew this was your draft year. Do you allow yourself to think about it during the season or do you try to block it out?
Jugnauth: It’s always there. You see all the lists. There are people telling you where you’re at, people coming to watch you, people talking to you. It’s always there. You can’t get rid of it. You just have to embrace it and just play. When you’re on the ice, play your game, don’t play to impress anyone. Just play.
BCHL: If you were speaking to an NHL general manager who was thinking of selecting you, how would you describe your game and how would it translate to the next level?
Jugnauth: I’m an offensive defenceman who is a smart player and a good skater. I like to move the puck. I’m good on the power play. My two-way game has been getting better. It’s still something I’m working on, but my offensive instincts are my main strong point.
BCHL: No matter what happens at the draft, you’re set to begin the next chapter of your career at the University of Wisconsin in the fall. How excited are you to start your NCAA career?
Jugnauth: I’m super excited. I’m actually there right now. It’s unbelievable. It’s a super nice place. The facilities are unbelievable. I really like it here. I’ve only been here for about a week, but I love it.