Mitchell not concerned about draft standing

Special To FC2017 Draft Center, Features, NCAA

First round or seventh.

It makes no difference to Spruce Grove Saints defenseman Ian Mitchell.

Because the 2017 NHL Draft is just a stop on chasing his NHL dream.

“Honestly, I just try not to think about it,” Mitchell said. “Personally I’m trying to be the best player I can be and five years down the road…the draft is just a snapshot of one year.

“With me going to college and just trying to continuously get better, hopefully when I’m 22, 23 I’ll be able to step into the NHL.”

The short-term has been kind to Mitchell, though.

He represented Canada-West at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, AB earlier in December, after skating for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in the summer.

The 17-year-old has served as a standout on the Saints, too, collecting four goals and 15 points in 31 games to help his Alberta Junior Hockey League club to a 24-10-2 record before breaking for Christmas.

It’s been hard for the 5-foot-10, 165-pound defenseman to slip through the scouting cracks.

Not with his skills.

And not with who he’s aspiring to model his game after.

“I like Tyson Barrie a lot,” Mitchell said. “I watch a lot of film on NHL guys. I feel like him and I are fairly comparable. We’re both good skaters and right-hand shots.

“He’s a guy I definitely look up to.”

It’s a good model.

And his play has garnered him attention all season.

But rising up those rankings isn’t on the agenda of the Calahoo, AB native.

“Honestly, it’s more of a long-term goal,” said Mitchell, 41st in Future Considerations’ Fall ranking for the 2017 draft.

“It’s an honor to go as high as you can.

“But at the same time I have to put things in perspective knowing that a lot of guys drafted in later rounds can still make the NHL and play a large role in it. It’d be great to go high, but if I don’t I don’t want to get down on it. I want to make sure I’m staying even-keel.

“It’s about the long-term for me.”

It’s sound advice for all.

“It’s just been all about playing your game and not worrying about who is in the stands,” Mitchell continued. “It’s about trying to get better each day.

“That’s really helped me stay grounded and not get wrapped up in all the extra hoopla around the draft.”

With files from Donesh Mazloum