Royals forwards await big day
By Cleve Dheensaw, Times Colonist
June 22, 2012
Steven Hodges tonight will attend his high school graduation ceremonies at South Delta Secondary. On Saturday, he may be a member of an NHL team.
How's that for a weekend double?
"I've talked to a few teams . . . I'll just wait to see how things unfold," said the Victoria Royals forward, the 85th-ranked North American skater for the 2012 NHL draft.
The first round of the draft is today in Pittsburgh, with the remaining rounds to take place Saturday.
"Nothing is set in stone and there are no guarantees of getting drafted," said Hodges, a quicksilver forward with 21 goals and 46 points for the Royals last Western Hockey League season, but who dropped 30 spots from a peak ranking of 55th in the mid-season ratings by Central Scouting.
"I'll just hang out with my family and watch the Internet on Saturday."
Hodges described himself as more excited than nervous.
Fellow Royals forward Logan Nelson, the 73rd ranked North American skater, will spend part of Saturday playing in a charity hockey game for the local youth hockey association in Rogers, Minnesota.
"And then I'll just wait for the call," he said.
He is so relaxed he added that he "might just sleep in."
If Nelson's trajectory continues, it could be a telling weekend for the six-foot-one centre who has climbed dramatically from his pre-season status of being off the draft radar. He then shot up 35 spots from his mid-season draft ranking of 108th. Earlier this week, he was named one of 46 players invited to the U.S. tryout camp in August at Lake Placid for the 2013 world junior championship to be held in late December and early January in Ufa, Russia.
"I'm feeling pretty good," said Nelson, about his draft prospects.
"There is no telling when I'm going or what team is going to take me. I'm going in blind and hoping for the best."
Nelson was among the top 105 draft-eligible players invited to the NHL Scouting Combine earlier this month in Toronto, so he got to meet many of the players who will go today in the first round.
"I'll watch the first round [which is televised] because it will be exciting to see all the guys I was around at the combine," said Nelson.
Hodges just missed being invited to the combine.
"I would have wanted to be a part of something like that, but that's how it goes in this business," said the native of Yellowknife.
"I have no regrets and I'll just keep moving forward."
The same sentiment might apply to Royals defenceman Tyler Stahl. Although a sixth-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010, the six-foot-two rearguard is allowed to re-enter this year's draft because the Hurricanes didn't sign him in the allotted two-year window.
But limited to 20 games last season because of a concussion that kept him out for much of the WHL campaign, Stahl isn't holding out much hope of being re-selected.
"I'm not expecting anything to happen," he said, from his home in Drumheller, Alta. "I'm an older guy  who didn't play a lot last year. That's not a great combination."
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist