‘It will be a really fun game’: Regina Pats’ Tanner Howe ready for top prospect showcase

Photo by Keith Hershmiller Photography. Regina Pats captain Tanner Howe in action during the 2023-24 WHL season.

by Taylor Shire
Regina Leader-Post

Tanner Howe likes the prospect of being a top prospect

On Wednesday, the Regina Pats captain will be one of 40 players from around the Canadian Hockey League participating in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Moncton, N.B.

“To get recognized for that game and to be able to go there and play in that game is super cool,” Howe told media at the Brandt Centre prior to leaving for the event.

The game features the top NHL draft eligible players from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League, as selected by the 32 NHL clubs who will be selecting players in the NHL Draft on June 28 and 29 in Las Vegas.

The 18-year-old Howe, the only captain among the participants, will be on Team Red for the 28th edition of the game. The WHL will be represented by 10 forwards, four defenceman and one goaltender, including Calgary Hitmen defenceman Carter Yakemchuk, Spokane Chiefs forward Berkly Catton, Kelowna Rockets forward Tij Iginla and Howe, who all considered potential first-round selections.

“Playing with such talented players and to play against them, I think it will be a really fun game,” said Howe, a 5-foot-11, 182-pound Prince Albert product.

Last season, former Pats captain Connor Bedard also represented Team Red at the game in Langley, B.C. before being selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Howe has spoken to his former linemate about the game and Bedard told him to just go have fun.

“He said it was super fun when he went so just looking forward to it,” said Howe.

Including Bedard, 37 of the 40 players who participated in the game last year heard their names called in the NHL Draft, a good indication that those named to the game are among the top eligible players in the country.

“It’s just another recognition and confidence boost for him that this is where he belongs,” said Pats head coach Brad Herauf. “He belongs there because he’s put in the work in to be with those guys.”

Last season, Howe — who was recently ranked 29th among North American skaters eligible for the draft by NHL Central Scouting — set career highs with 36 goals and 49 assists for 85 points in 67 games.

This season, he’s on pace for similar numbers as he has scored 22 goals and added 30 assists for a team-leading 52 points in 44 games.

But he admits he’s gotten more confident with the puck this year, indicated by his 128 shots on goal already this season compared to 149 last year, with 24 games still to play.

“Keeping the puck on my stick and wanting the puck and protecting the puck, not just getting rid of it quick, I think I took a big jump in that,” said Howe, Regina’s fourth-round pick in the 2020 WHL Draft.

Howe is not only gifted offensively, but he’s responsible defensively. He also has a level of grit to his game and is regularly one of the hardest workers on the team, which are qualities he plans on bringing to Wednesday’s game.

“Just go in and work as hard as I can and just kind of show what I can do,” said Howe. “I don’t want to change my game at all, obviously what I’ve been doing has gotten me there.

“To be able to see those players, how good they are and see how good they do and see how I compete against them, I think it’s definitely a measuring game.”

Notes: Two other Pats were recognized by NHL Central Scouting recently as defenceman Corbin Vaughan was ranked 136th and forward Jaxsin Vaughan came in at 148th among North American skaters.

Pats’ import prospect Stian Solberg is ranked 26th amongst International skaters. The Oslo, Norway product is currently playing in Norway’s top professional league but the 18-year-old defenceman is expected to join the Pats next season.

Southey, Sask. product Matthew Van Blaricom, who currently plays with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, was ranked 150th among North American skaters.