While the NHL begins the Stanley Cup qualifiers this weekend, three players from the Spokane Chiefs are looking ahead to October 9th and 10th for their names to be called at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Let’s take a look at the players who should be chosen during the seven-round draft:
Jack Finley, a native of Kelowna, BC, is coming off his best season with the Chiefs in his young career. The sixth overall selection in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft was centering a line this season that featured WHL Player of the Year Adam Beckman and right-winger Cordel Larson. Finley posted a career-best 19 goals and 38 assists for 57 points, averaging just under a point per game.
Finley, who turns 18 in September, continues to grow. Currently, he stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs approximately 205 pounds. Finley is an imposing force on the ice. He began to throw his body around more this season, laying hard checks on puck carriers and separating them from the puck. His size should catch scouts’ attention first and foremost and his scoring touch and puck distribution are starting to come along.
NHL Central Scouting has Finley ranked 38th on its list. He should go early in the second round. If he falls to later on in the second round, he would be a steal, just like linemate Adam Beckman was in the third round in 2019 for the Minnesota Wild.
Role projection: Top 6 forward
Luke Toporowski, whose hometown is Bettendorf, Iowa, is also coming off the best season of his WHL career. The eighth overall selection in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft was on a line that featured Eli Zummack and Leif Mattson, creating one of the most deadly scoring lines in the WHL this past season. Toporowski, who turned 19 in April, put up a career-best 29 goals and 31 assists for 60 points. He averaged just under a point per game.
The knock from scouts on Toporowski will be his size, but do not let that fool you. He isn’t afraid to throw his body around or get under the skin of opponents. Coming in at 5-foot-10 and weighing approximately 178 pounds, Toporowski may not seem like the type of player to play physical, but he isn’t afraid to do so and if that isn’t enough, he also has the touch to score and to distribute the puck. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked 191st on its list.
Role projection: Bottom 6 forward
Bear Hughes, whose hometown is Post Falls, Idaho, burst onto the WHL scene after a successful 2018-19 campaign with the Spokane Braves of the KIJHL (Jr. B). He attended Everett Silvertips training camp before the 2018-19 season but did not make the roster and was not listed by the Silvertips. During his season with the Braves, he was listed by the Spokane Chiefs and in January 2019, he signed a WHL standard player agreement. Bear finished his only season with the Braves by posting 41 goals and 25 assists for 66 points. He finished it off being named the KIJHL and Neil Murdoch Division Rookie of the Year along with being the MVP and Top Scorer in the Neil Murdoch Division.
In his rookie season in the WHL in 2019-20 with the Chiefs, Hughes posted 16 goals and 31 assists for 47 points. Hughes stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs approximately 165 pounds. If you watched him play at all during this past season, you wouldn’t believe that he is a rookie. He has a unique ability to distribute the puck and has the touch to score at will. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked at 150th on its list.
Role projection: Top 6 forward