Dylan Coghlan
Photo via NHL.com

It’s common knowledge that NHL star and Olympic Gold Medalist Jamie Benn is from the Greater Victoria region, as is his brother Jordie, who plays for the Montreal Canadiens.

Along with elite offensive defenceman Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, the three players represent the top hockey talent to have come from Vancouver Island in recent years.

Jamie and Jordie Benn both played their bantam hockey with the Peninsula Panthers and Victoria Grizzlies, while Tyson Barrie played his minor hockey with the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies.

Which begs the question: who will be the next NHL player from Vancouver Island?

We took a look at all 14 Vancouver Islanders playing in the Western Hockey League – 3 of which have been drafted or signed by an NHL club – and made some predictions.

Players from Victoria

Brendan De Jong, D, Portland Winterhawks

Brendan De Jong is a towering 6’5 defender who has played all four of his WHL seasons with the Portland Winterhawks and earned a 6th round selection from the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

De Jong combines offensive capability with smooth skating and a huge reach, which every NHL scout loves to find.

In what should be his last season in the WHL, De Jong so far has recorded one goal and 14 points in 34 games.

Look for him to turn pro next season.

Ted Brennan, C, Kelowna Rockets

Ted Brennan is a 6’0 centerman born right here in Victoria. After being selected by the Kelowna Rockets in the 3rd round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, he honed his game first with the South Island Royals in 2015-16 before playing a full season with the Saanich Braves last season.

He showed positive growth, scoring 13 goals and 28 points in 33 games, enough to earn a full season with the Rockets this year. In his first taste of WHL action, the 17-year old has put up one goal and 4 assists in 32 games thus far.

Sean Strange, D, Kamloops Blazers

Sean Strange has proven that late draft picks do matter, after being selected in the 10th round by the Kamloops Blazers in 2015.

The 17-year old defender has shown steady improvement, spending two seasons with the South Island Royals and Saanich Braves before sticking with the Blazers this year.

In 24 games this season, he has 3 assists.

Dylan Garand, G, Kamloops Blazers

Dylan Garand is the youngest and least experienced of the players on this list, but he has shown plenty of promise in his young WHL career. The 15-year old goaltender has had a couple of chances to play in the WHL with the Blazers this year, playing in 3 games and posting a 1-2-0 record along with a .915 save percentage.

Right now, Garand is back down with Delta Hockey Academy Prep refining his game, but he’s showing plenty of promise. Last season with Delta, the 2017 3rd round pick posted a scintillating 1.33 GAA along with a .950 save percentage.

Jacson Alexander, D, Swift Current Broncos

Jacson Alexander is an up-and-coming defender for the Swift Current Broncos, after being selected 17th overall in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. Alexander ripped it up with the Shawnigan Lake School Bantam Prep team, leading the league in points by a defenseman with 9 goals and 22 points in just 24 games.

The 16-year old has appeared in just 3 WHL games this year, but with a dynamic offensive skill set, should see full-time action in 2018-19.

Tanner Sidaway, C, Regina Pats

Tanner Sidaway was never drafted into the WHL but earned a roster spot with the Kootenay Ice for the 2016-17 campaign. He’s since been traded to the Regina Pats, posting 2 assists in 33 games.

The 6’0 defensive centerman played his local hockey with the South Island Royals and the Westshore Wolves.

Players from Nanaimo

Josh Anderson, D, Prince George Cougars

Josh Anderson tore up the Vancouver Island Bantam Hockey League in 2012-13, posting 18 goals and 52 points in 52 games.

Prince George saw enough promise to make him the 3rd overall selected of the WHL Bantam Draft in 2013, and Anderson hasn’t looked back. Primarily a shutdown man, the 6’2 defender has been playing in the WHL since he was 16, posting 7 goals and 20 assists over his 176-game career.

Anderson was selected by the Colorado Avalanche 71st overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Patrik Bajkov, RW, Everett Silvertips

Patrik Bajkov is a playmaking dual-threat goal scoring winger who has been a mainstay in the top-six forward group for the Everett Silvertips for the past four years. After averaging 45 points in his first two WHL seasons, Bajkov exploded last year for 29 goals and 78 points in 71 games.

This season as an overage player, the 6’0 winger has been on a tear, scoring 20 goals and 54 points in just 39 games – good for 13th in the league.

Owen Hardy, C/LW, Vancouver Giants

Owen Hardy is a physical center/winger who plays with an edge. Standing at 6’1 and with a knack for getting into the dirty areas, Hardy has slowly made a name for himself as a Vancouver Giant.

After plying his trade with the North Island Silvertips and the Nanaimo Clippers, Hardy is now in his second season on the mainland.

After scoring 10 goals and 13 assists over his first 110 games in the WHL, Hardy has shown significant improvement this season, with 8 goals and 7 assists through 35 games.

Dawson Heathcote, RW, Medicine Hat Tigers

Dawson Heathcote ripped up the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League last season, posting 21 goals and 54 points in 47 games for the Nanaimo Buccaneers, earning Rookie of the Year honours.

After being selected in the 7th round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, the 5’11 winger is participating in his first full season of WHL action.

In 30 games for the Tigers this season, he has 5 goals and 2 assists.

Kyle Pow, D, Kelowna Rockets

Kyle Pow is hulking 6’6 defender from the Harbour City who was selected by the Kelowna Rockets in the 6th round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. After refining his game for the North Island Silvertips and the Pursuit of Excellence Prep program in Kelowna, he’s made the jump to “The Dub” this season.

So far the 17-year old has an assist and 17 penalty minutes in 15 games.

Players from around the Island

Dylan Coghlan, D, Tri-City Americans

Dylan Coghlan is a mobile 6’3 defender from Duncan who earned an invite to the Vegas Golden Knights rookie camp this past summer and earned a well-deserved contract.

After being passed on in the 2016 NHL draft, Coghlan responded with an outstanding 15 goal, 53 point performance in 71 games last season, good for 13th in the league among defencemen.

This season Coghlan has upped the ante, scoring 12 goals and 34 points in 34 games this year, placing him 9th in the league among defenders.

Look for Coghlan to get a shot with Las Vegas’ farm system in 2018-19.

Logan Nijhoff, F, Regina Pats

Logan Nijhoff is a goal-scoring forward from the Comox Valley, and appears to be a great pick for the Pats after selecting him in the 8th round of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. Nijhoff stood out in training camp this past August, and has an excellent goal scoring record with Okanagan Hockey Academy Prep team, scoring 13 goals in just 17 games this season.

The 5’10 forward appears to be among the best picks of the 2016 draft class for Regina and should earn a full-time role next season.

River Fahey, C, Red Deer Rebels

River Fahey hails from Campbell River and is just getting his first taste of WHL hockey this season.

Selected in the 4th round of 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, the 16-year old center earned a call-up this year after a strong start with the North Island Silvertips, where he posted 9 goals and 16 points in 17 games.

So far with Red Deer, the 6’1 center has accumulated a goal and an assist in 12 games.

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