NHL scouts will once again be flocking to Cranbrook to watch a budding Kootenay Ice star this coming season.
The NHL Central Scouting Service unveiled its Futures List for North American and international prospects for the 2017 NHL ENtry Draft this past weekend, with defenceman Cale Fleury finding a place amongst those to watch this WHL season.
“The 2016 draft class lived up to all the hype regarding the exceptional talent available and the unpredictability of the order in which prospects would be taken,” Dan Marr, NHL director of Central Scouting, told NHL.com. “It’s anticipated that 2016-17 will again be a deep class for prospects and there is lots of depth at all positions.”
Fleury, 17, emerged in 2015-16 as a dominant force on the Kootenay Ice blue line, setting career highs in all major statistical categories, including goals (eight), assists (17) and points (25).
On top of his prowess as an offensive catalyst from the backend, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound rearguard proved himself tough-as-nails and nightmarish for opposing forwards, adding a physical element to his game that left little for the opposition to work with down in Kootenay country.
Central Scouting’s Futures List consists of 148 North American players and 142 international skaters NHL scouts expect to watch closely in 2016-17. In September, Central Scouting will release an updated preliminary list with more detailed player rankings.
“The [Futures] list is based on evaluations we made of the players during the 2015-16 season,” Marr said. “A number of these players will be changing teams for 2016-17 and that will be reflected in our preliminary players to watch list in September.”
Other notable WHL players finding a place on the Futures List include, but are not limited to: Nolan Patrick (Brandon Wheat Kings), Callan Foote (Kelowna Rockets) and Stuart Skinner (Lethbridge Hurricanes).
Forward Klim Kostin, the top pick of the Ice at the 2016 CHL Import Draft, also lands on the list, though it remains uncertain as to whether or not he will land in Cranbrook or remain in Russia.
Fleury’s older brother Haydn was a 2014 first-round pick (seventh overall) of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and just completed his fourth season with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels.
In 131 career WHL games, Fleury has registered nine goals and 38 points, while amassing 53 penalty minutes. He added one assist during a seven-game first round playoff loss to the Calgary Hitmen in 2015.