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Spokane Chiefs

NHL Draft: Berkly Catton leads contingent of Spokane Chiefs into draft day

The 2024 NHL draft begins with the first round on Friday, and Spokane Chiefs center Berkly Catton expects to hear his name called early in the draft. Draft experts rate Catton to land somewhere between No. 5 and 15.

“I always kind of go back to being a young kid and just dreaming of these moments,” Catton said last week. “It’s pretty surreal honestly to see my name like that. I’m just enjoying it right now, soaking it in, and then whichever team picks me I’m looking to kind of run with that.”

But he’s not the only Chiefs player who could get drafted over the weekend.

Goalie Dawson Cowan and defensemen Nathan Mayes and Will McIsaac also hope to hear their names called this week in the 62nd annual entry draft.

The first round will take place Friday, with rounds two through seven on Saturday at the Sphere in Las Vegas, with the San Jose Sharks holding the first overall pick. Catton is projected to be Spokane’s highest NHL Draft selection since defenseman Jared Cowen in 2009, who went ninth overall to the Ottawa Senators.

“It’s tough sometimes to not look at the draft as the end-all, be-all kind of thing,” Catton said. “But in my eyes, I kind of look at it as just the start of hopefully a long pro career. … Whether it’s five or 15 or whatever I do end up, I think that’s just kind of a number and once you kind of get going that washes away with the past. I’m just really excited to get there and get with the team and then move forward with that.”

Catton, a 5-foot-10 center out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, finished his second full season with the Chiefs as the fourth-highest scorer in the Western Hockey League with 54 goals and 62 assists for 116 total points. He became the second-highest-scoring 17-year-old in Chiefs history, behind only Pat Falloon, and was named the U.S. Division’s player of the year at the end of the season. With 140 WHL games under his belt, the forward has amassed 175 total points (78G-97A) and has a 1.25 points per game average.

Catton said he’s leaned on teammates, especially defenseman Saige Weinstein, in the days leading up to the draft.

“I’ve talked to the older guys, the guys who have kind of gone through it all,” he said. “ ‘Ask questions,’ that’s what (Weinstein) told me. I think that’s gonna be something I’ll do heading into it. And that’s kind of how you learn and grow and put yourself out there basically.”

He thinks it’s cool that the team is hosting a draft day party on Friday.

“It’s so exciting. These past few years, my interactions with the fans, obviously the management, you know, for everyone to kind of be in the same spot to watch me move forward – it’s pretty surreal. Spokane is my second home really, and seeing (the draft party) made my day. I’m really looking forward to that and hope they have a good time there.”

Catton was ranked eighth among North American Skaters in the NHL’s Central Scouting Service’s final rankings. He plans on having a big contingent in Las Vegas to celebrate.

“Every single emotion in the books is in play,” he said. “You know – nerves, excitement, a little bit of uncertainty. But it’s gonna be really cool. I think once my name gets called and all of my family and friends that will be there, then obviously in Spokane, and back here in Saskatoon – it will be a sigh of relief almost. And it’ll be a very special night.”

Cowan, a 6-foot-2 goalie from Warren, Manitoba, completed his first full season with the Chiefs in 2023-24 and finished with a 3.59 goals against average and .899 save percentage. He went 18-20-2-1 in net for Spokane last season and logged 1,322 saves, surpassing the 2,000-save mark for his career with 2,245. He’s 30-37-3-3 since his WHL debut in 2021-22, in which he recorded a 23-save shutout for the Winnipeg ICE.

Cowan was ranked fifth among North American Goaltenders in the final rankings.

McIsaac, a 6-foot-3 blueliner from Vancouver, British Columbia, finished his second full season with the Chiefs with new career highs across the board – six goals and 21 assists for 27 total points – and improved from a minus-15 last season to a plus-15 this season. He was Spokane’s third-highest-scoring defenseman for the 2023-24 campaign.

McIsaac was ranked 93rd among North American Skaters in the final rankings.

Mayes, a 6-foot-4 defenseman out of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, was Spokane’s third-round pick (51st overall) in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, making his debut in the 2021-22 season. He finished his rookie year with a goal and 15 assists, bringing his career total to 17 points in 74 games. He was ranked 107th among North American skaters.