SPORTS TALK: So who’s next to get the phone call?

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Two young men recently got to experience the excitement of getting drafted by a Western Hockey League outfit.

Logan Cunningham and Carter McLeod are now hopefully on the road to bigger success in the hockey world. Not bad for a couple of kids who grew up on the same street playing backyard rink hockey on Brown Court, eh? There were some rumblings about Andrew Carr possibly getting a look-see in the later rounds, but it didn’t materialize.

With that in mind, let’s delve into the crop of young players who are coming through the pipeline and there are three who stand out right now:

Alex Cordero

If you’ve been paying attention to Yellowknife hockey over the past couple of years, you will know Alex Cordero is someone who has been getting lots of attention.

Cordero has always been a big kid, but I’ve always wondered whether he would put his size to good use. There’s nothing wrong with rubbing someone out along the boards on a rush and Cordero always had the ability. Someone just needed to tell him it was OK.

He spent this past season playing in Vancouver at St. George’s School with the bantam varsity squad, where he put up 20 points in 22 games along with three points in three playoff games. Not bad for someone who’s always enjoyed being part of the rush and who isn’t afraid of joining the play.

He’s already on the radar of several Western Hockey League scouts with more than one report stating that he could be as high as a second-round choice in 2020. If he puts up the same numbers next season as he did this past season, he will become a first-round pick. No matter what, I’m saying it right here and now: you will see Alex Cordero within the first 40 picks of next year’s draft.

Emmery Golchert

He’s one of the smallest players competing at this weekend’s BC Hockey U15 Provincial Tournament but you don’t get picked as one of the best 160 bantam-aged hockey players based in B.C. just because.

Besides, Sam Schofield has never been the biggest dog in the yard and he’s now in the Swift Current Broncos system.

Golchert honed his craft with the Wolfpack development program before heading south to play with the Comox Valley Chiefs and he will get a really good look from scouts this weekend as not only is it a tournament, but also a combine held under the auspices of the Western Hockey League itself.

Long shot choice? Everyone’s a long shot when they begin, but he still has time to grow. Growth spurts happen all the time and Golchert’s is still yet to come. And besides, this is the weekend where he gets the chance to show that if he wasn’t on the radar already, then he is now.

Matthew Gillard

Here’s one of my favourite players right now.

Take a dose of Theoren Fleury, add in some Nathan Gerbe and a dash of Jared Spurgeon and you have Matthew Gillard. Fleury was the kind of guy who wouldn’t take it from anyone on the ice and neither will Gillard. He isn’t afraid to mix it up and if he has to face-wash you to get your attention, nae bother.

Gerbe is one of the smallest players to ever wear an NHL uniform (5 ft. 4 in.) and while Gillard isn’t the smallest person there’s ever been, he certainly wouldn’t be the biggest. Solution? You play like you’re the biggest pain in someone’s arse and Gillard is more than capable of doing that.

Smaller defencemen are getting more of a chance these days and Spurgeon is an example of that. I’m not saying Gillard will be signing a multi-year contract anytime soon, but scouts love it when smaller guys play half a foot taller than they really are.

Just like Cunningham, Gillard played with the Yukon Rivermen this past season, meaning he’s already been exposed to scouts. No report that I can find on him yet, but he’s eligible for 2020 and I’m sure Shawn Talbot or R.J. Carr or even Mirsad Mujcin, his coach at the Canada Winter Games, will be getting more than one phone call in the coming months.

The off-season always brings about plenty of interest and I’m sure there will be more young players from Yellowknife who will be getting a look-see as time moves on.

Next season is going to be good.

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