Langley teen days away from seeing dream become reality

Langley’s Jarret Tyszka projected as second to fourth round pick in this weekend’s NHL entry draft

Langley’s Jarret Tyszka of the Seattle Thunderbirds is hoping to hear his name called this weekend at the 2017 NHL entry draft in Chicago. Brian Liesse Seattle Thunderbirds

There is nothing left to do but wait.

Late last month, Langley’s Jarret Tyszka was among the invitees to the NHL’s draft combine in Buffalo, answering questions and undergoing physical testing for the 31 teams.

“It was a cool experience, getting the chance to meet all those NHL teams and other prospects,” the 18-year-old said earlier this week, now back home in Langley.

Tyszka said he spoke to 14 of the teams at the combine.

As for which one will select him? He has no idea, but that’s OK.

The NHL draft gets underway in Chicago with round one on Friday (June 23) and rounds two to seven the following day.

Tyszka will be at home in Langley following the draft.

“(Getting drafted) is what I always wanted,” he said. “I always thought I had a chance if I worked hard, I knew I could make it happen.”

Tyszka is ranked 41st among North American skaters — and 10th among defencemen — by NHL Central Scouting with draft experts predicting he could go between the second and fourth rounds.

Combined with European skaters, there are 396 players (non-goalies) listed by NHL Central Scouting in their final draft rankings and once goalies are included — there are 48 — that makes for 444 players. Only 217 will be selected by the 31 teams over the seven rounds.

“Projected to be a classic stand-up defenceman, Jarret Tyszka doesn’t show a lot of razzle dazzle when he’s on the ice. What he does show is an ability to make all the basic plays. He commands the ice with poise and confidence” is what wrote in their assessment.

“He is big and strong and his strengths are winning the one-on-one battles in the corners and skating the puck out and up the ice,” said Steve Konowalchuk, Tyszka’s head coach with the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds.

Tyszka has played two full seasons in Seattle, registering three goals and six points in 48 games as a 16-year-old and then upping those totals to six goals and 25 points in 54 games this past year. He also added two goals and seven points in 20 playoff games as the Thunderbirds captured the WHL championship.

And as he gets older and stronger, Tyszka — who is six-foot-two and 188 pounds — should only get better.

Tyszka was a first round pick of Seattle in the 2014 WHL bantam draft, going 16th overall.

“Right from day one, I thought he had real high potential,” Konowalchuk said. “We expected him to progress like he did and we still think there is more offensive upside, we think there is more growth there.”

As for whichever team drafts him, Konowalchuk said they are getting a blue-liner who can play in all situations and is very coachable.

“He responds, he listens and wants to learn,” the coach said.

The next step will be for Tyszka to put on some weight, increase his strength and continue rehabbing a shoulder injury which required him to miss some time this past season as well as the Canadian Hockey League’s Top Prospects Game.