Ahead of the 2018 NHL draft set for June this year, two more Prince Albert Raiders have been added to the league’s Central Scouting rankings, defenceman Brayden Pachal and forward Kody McDonald.
The ranked list of 200 North American skaters is the final one released prior to the draft, which will be held on June 22 and 23 in Dallas this year.
McDonald and Pachal join Raiders forward Cole Fonstad, who was already ranked among North American skaters but moved up in the rankings.
Fonstad is now ranked 65th out of 217 total skaters, moving up 13 spots from his previous ranking of 78.
McDonald is ranked at 178, while Pachal is ranked at 200.
“It’s pretty cool to get recognized and to have hard work pay off,” Pachal said of his inclusion on the list. “But there’s still lots of work ahead of me.”
The 18-year-old defenceman is in his first year of draft eligibility; that means if a NHL club in this year’s draft doesn’t pick him up, he’ll still be eligible in 2019.
Pachal also gave a nod to this year’s Raiders team – the cohesion and the success that the unit had overall is translating into success for individual members, he said.
“When there’s a good team, individuals have success, too.”
He pointed out that former captain Curtis Miske signed on with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears and that three other Raiders have signed agreements to join American Hockey League teams – Jordy Stallard, Parker Kelly and Ian Scott.
The 2017-18 season was also the first time in his WHL career that Pachal was invited by a coaching staff to be a part of a team’s leadership group; this year he was an alternate captain for the Raiders.
“Yeah, I think that helped, too. There were some growing pains to it, but I think that Marc and the coaches helped in that process. And being part of that leadership group helped me and my game,” he said.
Come next season in the WHL, McDonald will be entering his overage (20-year-old) season, which means this year’s NHL draft is his last chance to be selected via drafting by a pro club.
However, that doesn’t exclude him from joining a team via training camps in the summertime; that’s how fellow forward Parker Kelly signed and Entry Level Contract with the Ottawa Senators after successful summer camps in 2017.
Previously, McDonald has spent time at the Montreal Canadiens’ development camp in 2016; he was also an invitee on the Winnipeg Jets YoungStars Tournament roster last off-season.
This past WHL season, McDonald earned a career-best 66 total points, spread out between time spent with the Prince George Cougars and the Prince Albert Raiders.
That included seven game-winning goals, 34 total goals, 32 assists and 411 faceoffs won.
Pachal also earned career-bests for points (26), goals (seven) and assists (19) over 68 games played in the regular season.
Through seven playoff games this year, Pachal had four total points, including a short-handed goal to tie Game 7 against the Moose Jaw Warriors in the third period.