Pickering was motivated to make sure he wasn’t overlooked in the 2022 NHL Draft

The 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held July 7-8 at the Bell Center in Montreal. Round 1 will be July 7 (7:00 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 will be July 8 (11:00 a.m. ET; NHLN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) instead of. NHL.com counts down to the draft with in-depth profiles of top prospects, podcasts and other features. Today, a look at Swift Current defenseman Owen Pickering of the Western Hockey League. For NHL.com’s full draft coverage, click here here.

Owen Pickering used a blunder in the Western Hockey League’s 2019 Bantam Draft as motivation to prove he deserved better.

“Before me, 176 other players were selected, so I think you can definitely use that as motivation,” Pickering said. “But I feel like I deserve the attention I’m getting now and I’m just trying to move forward and find ways to improve even more.”

The defenseman was selected by Swift Current with the first pick in the ninth round of the 2019 WHL draft. But a growth spurt over the next three years, as well as an improvement in his skills on the ice, have Pickering forecast as a first-round pick in the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft.

Swift Current general manager Chad Leslie was the team’s director of scouting at the time of the 2019 WHL draft, recalling what prompted Swift Current to select Pickering.

“I’m from Elkhorn, Manitoba, same hometown as (Philadelphia Flyers defenseman) Travis Sanheim‘ said Leslie. “And to me, Owen looked a lot like Travis as a midget. Undersized, genuinely intelligent, and good individual skills, but lacked the physical strength that really dictated their draft play. Owen was about 5’7 at the time but reminded me so much of Travis.”

Pickering was 5-foot-7, 131 pounds when Swift Current drafted him as a 15-year-old.

Sanheim, who was selected by Calgary in the ninth round (#177) of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, was 5-10, 140 at the time. When the Flyers picked Sanheim 17th in the 2014 NHL Draft, he was 6-3 , 181.

Pickering (6-4, 180) led the Swift Current defensemen with 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists), including 17 power play points (four goals, 13 assists), in 62 games. He also had two assists and a plus-2 rating in four games for Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

He is number 15 The definitive ranking of North American skaters from NHL Central Scouting.

“He brings enough to what he is right now to make a difference later on at the NHL level,” said Central Scouting’s John Williams. “Obviously he needs to get stronger, but he has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. His skating is very good, he is balanced with the puck under pressure.

“Swift Current is a very young team and they’ve had some rough nights and Owen handled that pretty well and became the No. 1 defender on the team. He played big minutes and mastered those minutes well.”

[RELATED: More 2022 NHL Draft coverage]

Pickering was named WHL Central Division Rookie of the Year and was a Division Two All-Star.

“I think he relies on him a lot and there have been a few nights where he’s played 31 minutes a game and as a 17-year-old defender [he turned 18 on Jan. 27]”It sure is tough,” Leslie said. “But he handled it very well. I was concerned our young group might tire against Game 50 but to their credit they pushed through. I just think Owen made it through as he’s a pretty skinny kid who isn’t physically developed yet, so I’m excited to see what the next few years will be like for him.”

Born in St. Adolphe, Manitoba about 20 miles south of Winnipeg, Pickering’s size and strength gives him a good idea of ​​what it takes to be a defending player.

“Getting a stick on the puck is a big deal for me,” he said. “Then the reach… kinda with my arms, trying to pin guys down is a big deal when I’m using my leverage. I think once I get stronger, that will be a big advantage that I can use.”

Pickering models his game after the Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanenwho, in his opinion, embodies the prototypical modern defender.

“He’s tall (6-1, 190), a really good skater and good offensively,” Pickering said. “He’s able to close games quickly with his feet and stick on the defensive end.”

Pickering was also a big part of Swift Current’s penalty shootout, which he’s very proud of.

“I enjoy the challenge, I don’t know why,” he said. “You might think I’m crazy, but I enjoy blocking shots…if it doesn’t hurt too much.

Pickering also enjoys supporting his father Tom whenever he can during the Sunday Skate program, which was set up to teach young players the game in his hometown.

“I really respect my dad for not having that dinosaur attitude about hockey,” Pickering said. “He kind of sees the game growing and he applies that to the Sunday Skate with these 10-12 year old kids. I just enjoy being a part of it, going out and demonstrating. Even though we do fringe work, there’s no harm in going out and working on some things. I’ve tried to volunteer whenever I can.

Photo: Ed Fonger, Swift Current (WHL)

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