Talk about motivation for next hockey season.
Luka Burzan’s name wasn’t called during this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft, and he’ll be aiming to prove the pro teams wrong when he laces up his skates with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings next year.
The Surrey-raised hockey player was ranked 58th by the International Scouting Service (ISS) heading into the draft, and NHL Central Skating had him pegged 91st among North American skaters.
A total of 217 players were selected in the draft, held Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Texas.
“Obviously I’m a little bit shocked and disappointed, but it happens, and I just have to keep working right now,” Burzan said Sunday in a phone interview.
On the bright side, he’s been invited to a development camp hosted by Ottawa Senators.
“I’m going there Monday for that, a development camp,” Burzan said. “I’m looking forward to going there and proving to them I’m capable of playing there and show them what I can do.”
Next year at this time, Burzan could be drafted by a NHL team as an over-ager.
Burzan, a left-shooting centre, said he was working out at the gym Saturday morning, when draft rounds two through seven were held. His family lives in the Fraser Heights area.
“I was just kind of checking my phone every five minutes, and after the later rounds I kind of got the feeling I maybe wouldn’t go,” he said.
“For sure,” he added, “I want to go into next year proving to every team they made a huge mistake not taking a chance on me, and I want to go out next year and hopefully be one of the leaders in the (WHL) league, and I think I’m capable of doing that.”
Burzan turned 18 in January, the month he was traded to Brandon Wheat Kings by Moose Jaw Warriors, the WHL team that grabbed him sixth overall in the 2015 Bantam Draft.
In Brandon, Burzan notched nine goals and 12 assists in 30 games, and added another five goals and two assists in 11 playoff games.
The Surrey Minor Hockey Association product, who grew up in the Guildford area, played his second year of bantam with North Shore Winter Club, where he scored 84 goals and added 57 assists in just 67 games – enough to earn “Hockey Now” magazine’s 2015 B.C. Minor Hockey Player of the Year honours.
In 2016, Burzan was a scoring leader for the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget League. In February of that year, he left the team for two weeks to play for Canada at the Youth Olympic Winter Games. In Norway, the squad lost 5-2 to the U.S. in the final to earn the silver medal.
That fall, Burzan and fellow Surreyite Tyler Popowich scored silver medals as members of Team Canada Black at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The squad lost 2-1 to Sweden in the gold-medal game. “It was a great feeling representing the country like that, and I was proud to be there, proud of the team, even though it wasn’t the result we wanted,” Burzan said at the time.