Eric Roy doesn’t mind being overshadowed by Brandon Wheat Kings teammate Ryan Pulock in the hype leading up to next year’s National Hockey League Entry Draft.
In fact, Roy would just as soon keep the draft chatter to a minimum for now.
"One of the things I promised myself this year is just to try and continue working on my game and try not to think about the draft," the 18-year-old defenceman from Beauval, Sask., said. "The day will come and it will be a very exciting day, but I just try not to think about it."
Both blue-liners are expected to be relatively early picks, with Pulock projected to go in the top 10. He is seventh overall in the most recent Red Line Report and has been given an ‘A’ grade in NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings. Roy was graded as a ‘B’ by Central Scouting and is projected as a third-round pick by the Red Line Report, which has ranked him 85th overall.
Roy believes having two highly-regarded prospects on the team helps both by giving them the maximum exposure to scouts, but his priority is simply playing the best hockey he can — no matter who is watching.
Tied for 14th among Western Hockey League defenceman in scoring going into Wednesday, with four goals and 12 points in 19 games, Roy is a little behind his scoring pace of last season when he put up 53 points to sit 10th among rearguards. However, he believes his overall game continues to improve.
"I think I’ve been playing good," said the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder, who has a plus/minus of -4 this season, but a +3 rating over his last four games. "Sure I’ve had ups and downs. Every player does, but it’s just trying to work on the little things, just trying to be a good teammate, good leader for this team and try and help this team win hockey games."
Always a pinpoint passer who had the ability to join the attack and come up with the big goal — he has four game-winners in his career, including the decisive marker in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds — Roy said his focus on the ice has been on improving his skating and defensive play to match his prowess with the puck.
Originally a forward, he didn’t drop back to defence until his first year of bantam, later being chosen by the Wheat Kings in the first round (18th overall) in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft. He said he’s still learning the many nuances of the position.
"You’re always learning something new every day in practices and games," he said. "There’s a lot of things to learn in the game of hockey. You look at the NHL guys, they’re always learning something new."
ONE-TIMERS: The Wheat Kings also have a third defenceman on scouts’ lists, with Ayrton Nikkel receiving a ‘C’ grade from Central Scouting … Brandon head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said he believed RW Jayce Hawryluk was OK after a hard hit by Seattle D Jared Hauf late in Tuesday’s game, although the Wheat Kings rookie was scheduled to see a doctor Wednesday afternoon. Hauf was given an interference major on the play but was not suspended and was back in action last night in Regina … The Wheat Kings continue their five-game homestand on Friday when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes (7:30 p.m., Westman Place) … After suffering its first two regulation losses of the season, Kamloops has slipped to second in the Canadian Hockey League rankings behind Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Portland (sixth) and Edmonton (ninth) join Kamloops as WHL teams in the top 10.