By Andrea Arnold

Much of McBride is eagerly awaiting the NHL Draft announcement during draft pick on June 28th and 29th.

McBride Minor Hockey product Tanner Molendyk has come a long way from the little two year old boy learning to skate at the Robson Valley Recreation Centre. Now, the recent highschool graduate, standing at 5’11” and 176 pounds, waits along with his friends, family and community, to hear which team will call his name. Several websites predicting how the draft will play out has Molendyk going to a team within the first few rounds out of the seven total rounds. “The Rink” has him ranked the highest at #19, and Bob McKenzie of TSN has him sitting at #62. 

In 67 games this year with the Saskatoon Blades, (WHL), the 5-foot-11 defenseman scored nine goals, including two game winners, and 37 points overall, placing him third among the team’s defensemen in scoring.

In January, Molendyk joined other NHL top prospects in Langley for the 2023 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. He was placed on Team White, against draft favourite Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats. Molendyk and his teammates took the game with a 4-2 score. Molendyk was selected to represent Canada at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup held in Red Deer in August 2022. Team Canada skated their way to a gold medal. At the Capital City Challenge in 2021, he also helped Team Canada Black U17 bring home the gold in overtime.

Reviews and scouting reports praise Molendyk’s fluidity and maneuvering as he covers the ice. They point out his puck carrying effectiveness, his willingness to change up his angle of approach in order to open up passing possibilities and some creative playmaking skills. These are all skills that scouts take note of, and that with time and tuning, could make him invaluable to a team during both penalty killing as well as power play opportunities.

Molendyk has just returned from the 2023 NHL Combine held in Buffalo. He and 20 other WHL players joined about 80 other NHL prospects to undergo intense fitness testing. In 10/18 of the events, Molendyk placed within the top 25.

Molendyk will be making his way to Nashville for the Draft announcement, and will have with him several members of his family. They will travel down to provide support just as they and the community have been alongside him throughout this journey.

The draft can be watched live on June 28 (Round 1) at 4:00pm local time on ESPN, Sportsnet and TVAS. Rounds 2-7 begin on June 29 at 8:00 am local time on NHLN, Sportsnet and TVAS.

Another local connection, Sawyer Mynio, grandson of long-time resident Flo Mynio, also attended the NHL Combine. Mynio plays for the Seattle Thunderbirds, the 2023 Ed Chynoweth Cup Champions and he too eagerly awaits, hoping to hear his name called at the NHL draft announcements at the end of June.