Two Coquitlam hockey players, including a golden goaltender, could be drafted to the NHL this summer.
Thomas Milic and defenceman Jeremy Hanzel are among the final group of global players listed by experts with a good chance of joining the pros as early as the 2023–24 season — depending on a team's needs.
The final NHL Central Scouting rankings were posted today (April 18).
Milic is in the 28th slot for the North American goaltenders category.
But while that's a drop of three rankings compared to the mid-term report in January, the 20-year-old player could raise his stock based on his current hot streak in the Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs.
The 2023 world junior hockey championship-winning netminder has won all six post-season contests between the pipes for Seattle.
As of this publication, the Thunderbirds have a 2-0 semifinal series advantage on the Prince George Cougars — this after sweeping the Kelowna Rockets 4-0 in the opening round.
Milic has a .959 save-percentage (SV%) and 1.00 goals-against average (GAA) in the playoffs thus far, including one shutout.
The Coquitlam Minor Hockey Association alum amassed a .928 SV% and 2.08 GAA in 33 regular season games, which resulted in a 27-3-1-1 record and four shutouts.
His efforts were also enough to be named the WHL's U.S. Division goaltender of the year.
Milic ended his first World Juniors stint this past holiday season with a 1.78 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage (SV%), stopping a total of 138 pucks in five starts between the pipes.
He made 24 saves on 26 shots in the gold medal game to lift Canada to a 3-2 win in overtime over Czechia.
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There are currently seven WHL goalies above Milic in NHL Central Scouting's final report, including fellow crease-monkey Scott Ratzlaff.
Meanwhile, Hanzel is ranked 124th among North American skaters.
The 20-year-old T-Birds' alternate captain led Seattle blue-liners with 13 goals in 66 games, as well as second in points (48), during his third WHL campaign.
Hanzel, who played with the Tri-Cities-based Vancouver North East Chiefs for two seasons, plus five games with the Coquitlam Express, also had the best on-ice ratio for goals, +70.
He currently has four points, all assists, in six playoff games this year, as well as 16 shots on goal and a team-high +11 rating.
His three-digit ranking means he's projected to be selected as early as the fourth round of the 2023 NHL Draft.
Milic and Hanzel will look to help Seattle go up 3-0 in its best-of-seven series on the Cougars tonight, 7 p.m. in Prince George.
If successful, the T-Birds can close out a second consecutive series sweep on Wednesday (April 20).