By Amy Robertson
yler Stahl, a former defenseman for the Caronport High School Cougars, has always had his sights set on the NHL.
As of June, that dream is looking more like reality.
The 201-pound, 6’2” defenseman for the Western Hockey League’s Chilliwack Bruins was drafted 167th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round of the NHL entry draft.
He was at a Calgary mall when he got the call from his agent.
“It was exciting,” he said simply.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s a good step.”
The 18-year-old Drumheller, Alta. native said he expected to be chosen because he was 96th in Central Scouting’s mid-season rankings.
He had six points and 146 penalty minutes in 59 games this season—only one other player on his team clocked more penalty minutes than he has.
Stahl still knows he’ll wait “at least four or five years” before a chance at the Hurricanes’ roster.
A drafted player isn’t guaranteed a spot in the NHL—but the drafting team has the rights to the player. If the player doesn’t sign a contract with the NHL or an affiliated minor league team, he may re-enter the draft after two years if he is from North America and under the age of 20.
Stahl expects to play another two years in Chilliwack, and another two or three years on one of the Hurricanes’ American Hockey League farm teams in Albany, N.Y. or Charlotte, N.C.
Terry Dyck, who coached Stahl in the 2008-2009 season at CHS (Stahl also played for CHS the previous year, under Coach Frank Spinozzi), said that based on Stahl’s performance with the Cougars, he thinks Stahl has a good shot at the Hurricanes’ roster.
He described Stahl as CHS’s best player.
“He was a man among boys,” Dyck said. “He was very physical.”
Stahl recorded 23 goals, 21 assists, and 182 penalty minutes in 35 games that season.
“I think he has all the tools that he needs. If he doesn’t get distracted, I think he can do it,” Dyck added.
“We’re all excited.”
Stahl is more modest about his time with the Cougars, saying simply that there were a lot of good players on the team.
“Hockey is still a team sport, so you need other people around you,” he said.
Stahl spoke highly of his time at CHS, saying it got him on the ice every day and provided a lot of opportunities to lead while he waited for a contract with the Bruins, who selected him in the 2007 bantam draft.
Chilliwack scouts often attended Cougars games to monitor Stahl’s progress.
Stahl said his time with the Cougars also helped him build a solid foundation in his walk with God and prepared him to live away from home.
Dorm life was a good bridge from home to the WHL, in which players are billeted out during the hockey season, he explained.
He is grateful to his parents, who he says are very excited—maybe even more excited than he is.
“They sacrificed and gave so much,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”