Jack Finley spent a lot of time talking with NHL scouts during the spring.
After a relative lull, the Spokane Chiefs forward is waiting for one last call.
He, along with a few other Chiefs players, hope that call comes on Wednesday, when the NHL draft finishes its remaining six rounds after completing its first round on Tuesday night.
“As of recently, it’s been pretty quiet,” Finley said from his home in Kelowna, British Columbia. “Most of it’s been through my agent, because a lot of the work was done after the season when I had Zoom call after Zoom call.”
Teams’ draft lists have been finalized for some time, with no junior hockey games to watch since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sport in March. Finley finished the shortened season with 19 goals and 38 assists in 62 games as a 17-year-old.
The Chiefs have been well-represented in recent drafts. In the previous four drafts, five Chiefs players have been selected in the first three rounds, plus two more taken later.
That includes current Chiefs player Adam Beckman, a Minnesota Wild third-round selection last year, and first-rounders Ty Smith in 2018 (by the New Jersey Devils) and Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) in 2017.
Finley said he has talked to some of those players recently, and they encouraged him to enjoy the process.
But the process is a bit different this year. Already four months later than previously scheduled – an adjustment made to coincide with the NHL concluding its postseason – the draft is being conducted virtually, which means Finley won’t be pulling any sweaters over his head to represent the team that drafts him.
He might, however, find the right hat within reach.
“I’ve got a lot of old hats from when my dad played,” said Finley, whose father Jeff played parts of 15 seasons for six NHL teams. “A lot of them are out of style now, so they sit on a shelf in my room.”
Jeff Finley is now a scout for the Winnipeg Jets.
Two other Chiefs players have drawn attention on draft boards, including Post Falls native Bear Hughes, who projects as a late-round pick, and forward Luke Toporowski.
Both were eligible for the 2019 draft but weren’t selected.
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