Steve Ewen: B.C. boys Stukel, Ronning have another connection after NHL Draft

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Giants Jakob Stukel plays against the Prince George Cougars during the third period of a regular-season WHL game at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C. Sunday October 25, 2015.
 
 

Vancouver Giants Jakob Stukel plays against the Prince George Cougars during the third period of a regular-season WHL game at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C. Sunday October 25, 2015.

Photograph by: Ric Ernst, The Province

In the middle of talking about what will go down as one of the great days of his life, Jakob Stukel called a timeout.

“Has Ty Ronning gone yet?” the speedy Calgary Hitmen winger from Cloverdale said, moments after he had been selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the sixth round, 154th overall of Saturday’s NHL Draft.

“Ty really deserves to be picked.”

"All I need is a chance," Ty Ronning said after being drafted by the New York Rangers in the seventh round.
"All I need is a chance," Ty Ronning said after being drafted by the New York Rangers in the seventh round.

Ronning, a speedy Vancouver Giants winger from Burnaby, was chosen moments later, going in the seventh and final round to the New York Rangers.

Ronning’s the son of former Canucks centre Cliff Ronning. If the Canucks nab his rights on Saturday, it’s an instant, feel-good story.

There are going to be Canuck fans who connect Stukel and Ronning because of that, even though the Canucks had two more chances to snag Ronning after selecting Stukel.

Stukel and Ronning will be OK with it all. They’re used to being linked.

Stukel and Ronning played against each other in club hockey and with each other in spring hockey growing up.  A few weeks after Ronning’s Burnaby Winter Club squad beat Stukel’s Cloverdale side for the bantam triple-A provincial title, the Giants made Ronning their first-round pick and Stukel their first of two second-rounders in 2012 WHL bantam draft.

They were even billet-mates when both were with the Giants.

The Giants traded Stukel to the Hitmen in October, as part of a five-player deal, and both he and Ronning had breakout seasons this past campaign: Stukel scored 36 goals in the WHL regular season, Ronning tallied 31 times.

Asked if there’s any sort of friendly rivalry amongst the pair, Ronning said: “No rivalry. Not at all. It's just friendly. I’ve been shooting him texts, congratulating him, and he’s doing the same for me. We’re both excited for each other today.”

There was some buzz in the Giants camp late last season about Stukel possibly being drafted last summer, especially after getting first-line minutes down the stretch in 2014-15. He says that he was OK when it did not happen, “because I hadn’t spoken to many teams.”

Despite how things finished, he was seeing limited ice under coach Lorne Molleken to start this year, which was part of why he deemed expendable and the trade happened.

He says the Canucks were the first NHL team to contact him this year, and he had met with “seven or eight,” by season’s end.

“The Giants were the first team I talked to in my bantam draft year, and they ended up picking me,” Stukel, 19, who has 43 goals in 124 career regular-season games in the WHL.

“It’s funny how it’s worked out.”

He says he was a Canucks fan growing up, and tagged Saturday as “pretty surreal.” He’s a 5-foot-11, 182-pound winger who likes to use his speed to dart past defenders on the outside and go to the net.

“I need to get stronger. I need to be able to battle harder in the corners,” he said of areas that require improvement.

Ronning, 18, prompts similar assessments. He’s 5-foot-9, and 168 pounds. He seems to use his smarts more than his quickness to get in and out of traffic.

His dad was a seventh-rounder in 1984. There were questions about his size, too, but he went on to play 1,137 regular season games in the NHL.

“I’m pretty ecstatic. I’ve been given a chance, and it’s all I need,” Ty said.

He says the Rangers ended off a pre-draft interview with him by pointing out that their line-up featured 5-foot-7, 179-pound Mats Zuccarello, and “people thought we were crazy,” adding him to their squad.

“Was I worried about not being drafted? I wouldn't say that was the case,” said Ronning, who was the 201st of 211 players selected.

“If I didn’t get drafted, I wasn’t going to care. I know I’m capable of being a great hockey player.

"I’ve got a chance. That’s all I need. I’m blessed.”

BCHL has three players picked in the first round for the first time

The predictions about BCHL success proved correct.

As expected, the Junior A league would up with three players selected in the first round of an NHL Draft on Friday. That marked a first for the Junior A loop.

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: Tyson Jost celebrates with the Colorado Avalanche after being selected tenth overall during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: Tyson Jost celebrates with the Colorado Avalanche after being selected tenth overall during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.

Penticton Vees centre Tyson Jost went 10th overall to the Colorado Avalanche, Vees defenceman Dante Fabbro was grabbed 17th by the Nashville Predators, and Chilliwack Chiefs defenceman Dennis Cholowski went 20th to the Detroit Red Wings.

The BCHL has had two players go in the first round before, the last time coming in 2007 when centre Kyle Turris of the Burnaby Express went third to the Arizona Coyotes and forward Riley Nash of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks was picked 21st by the Edmonton Oilers.

“Obviously, I’m quite proud of all the programs and the players and their families,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “It’s a great thing for our league. We got a lot of exposure.”

The league has had nine first-round picks in its history. 

 
 
 
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Vancouver Giants Jakob Stukel plays against the Prince George Cougars during the third period of a regular-season WHL game at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C. Sunday October 25, 2015.
 

Vancouver Giants Jakob Stukel plays against the Prince George Cougars during the third period of a regular-season WHL game at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C. Sunday October 25, 2015.

Photograph by: Ric Ernst, The Province

 
Vancouver Giants Jakob Stukel plays against the Prince George Cougars during the third period of a regular-season WHL game at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C. Sunday October 25, 2015.
Tyson Jost celebrates with the Colorado Avalanche after being selected tenth overall during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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