A day that John Quenneville has long dreamed of is rapidly approaching.
He’s just not sure which day it will be yet.
The 18-year-old Brandon Wheat Kings forward is expected to be picked in the early rounds of this weekend’s National Hockey League entry draft, which begins with the first round on Friday and the final six on Saturday.
Ranked 23rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Quenneville is projected by a number of experts to go in the top half of the second round, although some believe he could go in the first round, including Sportsnet pundits Gare Joyce and Jeff Marek, who have him ranked 27th. Bob McKenzie of TSN pegs him at No.32, while Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has Quenneville at No.41.
Whether he’s picked on Friday or Saturday, the 6-foot-1, 186-pound centre is just anxious to hear his name called.
"I’m extremely excited," said Quenneville, who will attend the draft in Philadelphia. "I know how excited my family is. I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life. I’ve been dreaming about it for a very long time."
Quenneville and his family know just how exciting the draft can be. After all, his older brother and Wheat Kings teammate, Peter, was chosen by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the seventh round last year. Having seen his brother go through the process — twice — Quenneville feels much more prepared for what he’s facing this week.
"Pete had a year where he didn’t even get drafted and another one where he ended up getting drafted," Quenneville said. "We weren’t there at the draft for his but we did watch it all on TV. It was kind of a nail-biting experience. You just want to have it happen so badly, and just having him around means a lot to me."
Quenneville has earned good marks from scouts for his hockey IQ and his all-around game. He had 25 goals and 58 points in 61 Western Hockey League games for the Wheat Kings last season and even dropped the gloves five times on his way to 71 penalty minutes.
"He has the pro makeup and is a hard-worker," David Gregory of Central Scouting said on Quenneville’s NHL.com draft profile. "He makes good plays very quickly and is good at moving the puck. I’d like to see more consistency from him, but I like the way he finds open spaces and his ability to make any kind of pass."
Quenneville’s second WHL season was a major step up from his rookie campaign, when he had only 19 points. The Edmonton native continued the progress in the playoffs, leading the team with five goals and 13 points in nine games, and was chosen to play for Canada’s bronze-medal-winning team in the world under-18 championship.
When the season started, linemate Jayce Hawryluk — ranked 37th by Central Scouting — was Brandon’s top prospect for the draft, but Quenneville’s breakout coincided with an improvement in his stock, which steadily rose throughout the season. Quenneville hopes that upward trend will convince teams his ceiling is still much higher.
"I think I got better this year as the year went on, first half to second half and in the playoffs, and I think I played some pretty good hockey at the U18s as well," he said. "I think it means a lot to the scouts to see that you’re improving and moving your game along as the season progresses, so I think it will help me a lot."