It can be a real numbers game for junior hockey players seeking to make this game their career so every little bit counts when it comes to rankings.
It’s still early in the WHL season but two Red Deer Rebels sit within the top 30 according to the International Scouting Services rankings.
Forward Conner Bleackley is positioned at 15th overall and says it’s something which is talked about but he tries not to give it too much consideration.
“It’s nice to be recognized in that 15th spot. With that being said though the draft is still a long ways away and a lot can happen between now and then,” he said.
Joining him on the list is defenseman Haydn Fleury in position number 17.
“My agent had told me a little bit about that starting in the summertime so I kind of knew where I was,” he said.
“It’s just an honour to be on those lists and I hope to keep rising.”
Both players are off to good starts to their years with Bleackley leading the Rebels in scoring with seven goals and 10 assists to this point.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot of opportunity and the puck’s been finding my stick lots so far,” he said.
Fleury has put up eight points in 12 games so far on the strength of a pair of goals and six helpers.
“It’s just a day-to-day thing. I just come to the rink and just try to work my hardest and the points will come.”
He says he feels more comfortable each time he steps onto the ice this year because he’s not one of the youngest players in the WHL.
Bleackley credits his rise with showing the ability to thrive in the situations his coach has put him in and that’s increased the level of confidence needed in order to succeed at any level of sport.
Both players are complementary to each other’s skills and their current status within those rankings.
“I think Haydn is a phenomenal talent and he’s probably one of the best, if not the best draft eligible D in the western league,” said Bleackley.
“He’s had a strong start to the season and I think his stock will improve as the season goes on.”
Fleury’s thoughts about his teammate run along the same lines as Bleackley’s assessment of him but there is a slight lean towards some competition when it comes to the final rankings.
“Hopefully I can push him out of that spot come draft time.”
Both players are very grounded when it comes to that ranking number and what it will take to stay there or move up a notch.
“You never want to drop and you always want to improve everyday and improving every day would mean going up hopefully,” said Bleackley.
“I’ve just got to focus on working hard and staying humble everyday, coming to the rink ready to learn something new everyday,” Fleury said.
The Rebels’ current position in the standings is one number both agree needs to change soon.
“That’s the main thing right now, just trying to turn that around because I know we’ve got a good group of guys in the dressing room and 500 hockey isn’t acceptable here,” said Bleackley.