Gardner pleased to be ranked for draft

Matthew Gourlie
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Four Warriors also making Central Scouting's final rankings

Rhett Gardner caught the eye of the National Hockey League's Central Scouting Bureau (CSB).

Rhett Gardner (left), a former Moose Jaw General tries to deflect a puck that Kaleb Bell shot during a scrimmage game on Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Place. Gardner is back in Moose Jaw after a season with the Okotoks Oilers in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman

Whether or not that will result in the 18-year-old Moose Javian being drafted in the NHL Draft remains to be seen and Gardner said he's not losing any sleep about it either way.

"It could definitely be a nice reward, but that's the least of my concerns right now," said Gardner. "It would be a nice honour, but I have three years to go. There's a lot of guys who don't get drafted and make it to the NHL. With my route, I have nothing but time to prove myself.

"To be on a list with a group of guys who are that elite, it's a pretty good feeling. It's an honour, but I have to keep the work up."

Gardner just completed his rookie season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Okotoks Oilers and will return to Junior A in the fall. He has committed to the University of North Dakota and is expected to play in the NCAA in the fall of 2015.

Gardner was ranked 167th in the final CSB rankings. The six-foot-two, 192-pound left winger had 13 goals and 37 points in 52 games. He also added 82 penalty minutes.

Gardner was on the CSB's preliminary watch list, but didn't make their mid-term rankings.

"It's a good feeling to get back on the list and it proves to myself that I had a good second-half," said Gardner. "I thought I had a pretty slow start getting my feet wet in the league, but I thought in the second half I took my game to another level. I definitely felt a lot more comfortable out there."

Gardner some added exposure by playing at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge but he feels that the AJHL is a well-respected and well-scouted league.

"I think Junior A is under-rated compared to what a lot of people think. There's a lot of exposure if you're playing for the right team at the right time," said Gardner who has been skating with his old team, the Moose Jaw Generals, as they prepare to host the Telus Cup.

A quartet of Moose Jaw Warriors also made the CSB final rankings.

Brayden Point's torrid second half of the season saw him move up 22 spots since the mid-term rankings to 31st in CSB's final rankings.

Defenceman Dallas Valentine also moved up four spots to 105th, while Russian defenceman Alexey Sleptsov dropped eight spots to 151st.

Justin Paulic played some of his best hockey at the end of the season, but the Warriors goalie dropped six spots to 17th amongst North American goalies.

The NHL Draft will be held June 27-28 in Philadelphia.

Organizations: NHL, Alberta Junior Hockey League, University of North Dakota NCAA Telus North American

Geographic location: Philadelphia

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