Raiders blueliner projected to be a second to fourth round pick this weekend
While he’s not quite sure what the weekend has in store for him, Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Nolan Allan is ready for anything during the 2021 NHL Draft, which will be held virtually on Friday and Saturday.
“I don’t really know what my plans are going to be for it, but I would imagine that I’ll be at home watching it,” Allan said.
“I’m really excited to see what happens. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and hopefully I’ll get to hear my name being called this weekend.”
The 18-year-old from Davidson is ranked 40th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and is projected to go anywhere from late in the second round to early in the fourth round by various scouting services and draft rankings.
If he’s picked this weekend, Allan would be the second member of his family to be selected during the NHL Draft.
His uncle Chad, who had 115 points in 260 games as a member of the Saskatoon Blades blueline from 1992 to 1996 and won a pair of gold medals at the World Juniors with Canada, was taken in the third round (65th overall) in 1994 by the Vancouver Canucks.
“I’ve got to talk with my uncle quite a bit through this whole process and he’s been a great help, along with other members of my family and my close friends,” Allan said. “I also got a lot of advice from Ozzy (Weisblatt) and Kaiden (Guhle) as they went through the draft experience last year.
“It’s obviously been a little bit different for everyone this year as you are doing the meetings over Zoom, which is a good way of doing it, but it’s not quite the same as chatting in person like you normally would at the rink following a game. It’s been pretty interesting though to go through this process and chat with the teams.”
If Allan hears his name called, it would also mark the 11th straight year that a Raiders player has been picked by a NHL club.
Their current 10-year streak is the longest by a WHL team and the sixth longest in the CHL, trailing only the London Knights (52 years), Ottawa 67’s (18 years), Soo Greyhounds (14 years), Saginaw Spirit (13 years) and Halifax Mooseheads (11 years).
“Everyone in our organizations is excited for him,” Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt said. “I know he’s had a lot of interviews with NHL teams and that they’ve gone very well.
“It’s an exciting time for his family and we’re looking forward to seeing and hearing his name being called.”
The 18-year-old Davidson product is coming off what could easily be described as his busiest season thus far in his hockey career.
After starting the year with the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves, he spent 16 games with the Raiders in the Regina bubble before heading to Texas and earning a gold medal with Canada’s Under-18 program.
“It was obviously a different year and there was some uncertainty going into the start of it, but I learned lots of new and had a lot of new experiences as it went along,” Allan said.
“I got to play in the SJHL with La Ronge, have a really cool experience in the bubble and topped it all off with being part of a gold medal winning team at the Under-18’s. It was a pretty amazing season when you look back on it.”
The third overall pick by the Raiders in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, Allan has recorded 11 points in 81 games with the team over the last two seasons.
“When you look back at his rookie year, I think Nolan grew almost an inch and a half to two inches throughout the winter,” Hunt said. “I thought he was really coming into his own at the end of that season and our entire defence was playing well before COVID-19 shut everything down.
“If you look at Nolan’s past season, you could break down into three little segments. In his first few games in Regina, he hadn’t quite found his stride, but I thought he was fantastic in his final eight games. His timing was better, his execution was better and he was doing a better job at reading both ends of the ice.
“At the World Under-18’s, he was certainly the player that we anticipated he would be. He was physical, led their team in five-on-five minutes and had a really good tournament.”
After he returned from Texas, Allan completed his Grade 12 studies before starting his off-season training in Saskatoon.
“Once I graduated from high school, I’ve been in the city during the week for skating and training,” Allan said.
“There are always different things that you want to get better at before a new season, but a big thing for me right now is my mobility and quickness. Everyone’s getting faster out there so I’ve been doing a lot of work to make sure I’m strong in that aspect of the game.”
When he returns to the Art Hauser Centre for his third WHL campaign, Allan will be a key part of a Raiders blueline that is currently slated to return everyone from this past season.
“We’ve got a really good group of guys in Prince Albert and I think we should have a good season,” Allan said. “We’re still the defending champions and we’re looking to defend that title.
“On the individual side of things, I just want to continue to develop as a player and get better as the year goes on as I try to help our team win.”
Allan is one of three Raiders players ranked by NHL Central Scouting for this year’s draft, as fellow blueliner Landon Kosior and goaltender Carter Serhyenko are both potential late round selections.
Blueliners Remy Aquilon, Tayem Gislason and Adam McNutt are also eligible to be selected this weekend, along with forwards Matthew Culling, Logan Danis, Evan Herman, Michael Horon, Tyson Laventure, Logan Linklater, Eric Pearce and Reece Vitelli.
Incoming imports Uladzislau Shyla and Tikhon Chayka could also be selected, in addition to forward Ilya Usau, who spent the 2020-21 season in the KHL with Dinamo Minsk after a 52-point rookie campaign for Prince Albert.
One-time Raiders draft pick Hunter Strand is projected to be a fourth or fifth round choice by various scouting services after posting 49 points in 51 games last season for the USHL’s Tri-City Storm.
A sixth round selection in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, Strand’s rights were dealt to the Victoria Royals on Jan. 2, 2018 in exchange for Regan Nagy.
The 18-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska is committed to the NCAA’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish for next season.
Former Raiders forward Jakob Brook received a limited viewing grade by NHL Central Scouting after his third season in the WHL ended in the Regina Pats season opener on March 12 as he suffered a broken right leg when he crashed into the endboards during a race for the puck with Kaiden Guhle.
The 19-year-old from Roblin, Man. had a goal in eight games for the Pats in 2019-20 after he was traded by the Raiders on Jan. 9 in order to acquire netminder Max Paddock.
Brook, who was a second round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, had 21 points in 99 regular season games during his time in Prince Albert.