In a perfect world, Jared Cowen would find out on Friday his future in professional hockey would be based in Canada.
However, in a perfect world Cowen would not be recovering from major surgery on his right knee that cut short his second season with the Spokane Chiefs.
That’s probably why Cowen’s name can be found from third to tenth in National Hockey League mock drafts leading up to Friday’s televised first round from Montreal.
“I don’t know,” the 6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman said from his home in Allen, Saskatchewan. “I’ve heard a lot of things. I’ve talked to Phoenix (picking sixth) the most of anyone. I heard a couple of teams may trade up.
“It sounds like there could be a lot of trades. It will be interesting to see what goes on.”
After an outstanding rookie season when he helped the Chiefs win the Memorial Cup, Cowen’s second season ended on Jan. 30 when he suffered an injury that required major reconstructive surgery.
Although he surpassed his first season totals of four goals and 18 points with seven goals and 21 points in just 48 games, some teams may be leery of using a high pick despite glowing scouting reports.
Cowen said he started skating last week and expects to be ready to go when training camp opens in late August. He said there have been a lot of questions about his knee, which is why he hasn’t been locked into a certain spot despite the high assessment of his skills.
“It doesn’t matter where he goes, to be honest,” Spokane coach Hardy Sauter said last week before going to Sweden for a clinic. “I don’t know the other (players) that are top 10, I’m sure they’re very talented, but I’m fortunate enough to know Jared as a person and he’s top 10, easy. Whoever takes him is going to be extremely happy.”
Sauter had a quick, but long answer when asked what made Cowen a top-10 prospect.
“There are lots of reasons,” he said. “The obvious ones are he’s a 6-5 defenseman who can skate, handle the puck and play in offensive and defensive situations. In my opinion he’s an outstanding person, he’s intelligent, he’s team oriented and he has good leadership qualities.
“You put those all together and he’s a can’t-miss pick.”
Cowen didn’t sound concerned about what might happen.
“It’s going to be a good time,” he said. “Maybe I’ll move up a couple of spots, hopefully I won’t move down. It’s a good day to enjoy but after that it’s not important what position I went in.”
Cowen said his favorite team growing up was the one that was winning.
“I like the Canadian teams the most because they’re the closest,” he said. “It would be nice to be on a Canadian team but that’s not likely to happen.”
Scouts have also expressed an interest in a handful of other Chiefs, left wing Levko Koper, defenseman Stefan Ulmer, goalie James Reid and center Tyler Johnson.