Debunking the draft

EVERETT — Brett Chartier embodies the essence of what rookie training camp is all about.

He’s living proof that there’s cause for hope, no matter what your status.

A year ago the 16-year-old forward from Winnipeg, Manitoba, turned an invitation to the Everett Silvertips’ rookie camp into a place in the team’s future, thus providing a roadmap for this year’s invited hopefuls to follow.

“It all turned out for the better,” said Chartier of his roundabout journey to Everett.

A year ago Chartier, who is questionable for today’s Green vs. White rookie game because of a thigh bruise, was an undrafted 15-year-old who was just one of many players the Tips invited to rookie camp. But he parlayed the opportunity into a spot on Everett’s 50-player protected list, becoming one of Everett’s top prospects and proving the bantam draft isn’t the final word on player procurement.

“A lot of time there’s way too much stock put in the draft,” Everett director of player development Scott Scoville said. “I understand why it’s so big, but at the end of the day it’s one day and you’re 14 years old. Your hockey career, last time I checked, wasn’t made or lost when you’re 14 years old.”

Indeed, despite the fact that more than 200 players are selected in the bantam draft every year — most of whom will never have a WHL Everett’s current roster five players — forwards Dan Gendur, Brennan Sonne, Brandon Campos and Shane Harper, and defenseman Dane Crowley — were passed over in the bantam draft. Among recent WHL stars, former Kelowna defenseman Shea Weber and current Kamloops defenseman Keaton Ellerby went undrafted. Weber is now a budding NHL all-star, and Ellerby went 10th overall in the latest NHL draft.

Chartier hopes to be the next in that line. He has the ability to do a little bit of everything when he’s on the ice. He has the skills to put points on the board, as evidenced by his 21 goals and 26 assists in 39 games for the Winnipeg Wild midget AAA team last season. But he also likes to throw his body around, causing him to play larger than his 5-foot-8 frame.

“He’s as complete a player as we have forward-wise in that age group right now,” Scoville said. “He’s definitely a part of our future. He competes, he’s got great skill and tenacity on the puck, and he can play in all situations.”

Strong praise for a player who nobody wanted 15 months ago.

Chartier expected to be selected in the 2006 bantam draft. He even tried to position himself better by moving to Wilcox, Saskatchewan, during his bantam season to play for the prestigous Notre Dame Hounds, who annually have between seven and 10 players drafted each year.

However, when draft day came and went, Chartier’s name wasn’t called.

“I was pretty disappointed,” Chartier recalled. “It was probably one of the toughest days I’ve had to go through in hockey. But it was also one of the greatest things that could have happened to me. It made me work a lot harder for everything.”

To that end Chartier worked five days a week with a personal trainer during the offseason to improve his speed and strength.

Meanwhile, he received a series of invitations from WHL teams to attend rookie camp, a list that included more than half the teams in the league. He eventually settled on Everett because of the franchise’s reputation and the possibility of playing for former coach Kevin Constantine.

Thus motivated when he arrived at last year’s rookie camp, Chartier was one of the true standouts, showing both skill and grit and impressing the coaches and scouts immediately. About two weeks after rookie camp was over, Chartier was added to Everett’s protected list.

After his strong midget season, Chartier was even called in to Everett to participate in a few practices during last year’s playoffs. He’s now firmly ensconced on Everett’s protected list while multiple players who the Tips drafted that year have been dropped.

Now Chartier serves as inspiration for the undrafted players at this year’s rookie camp.

“A lot of the younger guys asked if I got drafted and I told them I didn’t, I got listed later on,” Chartier said. “So I think it gives the guys coming in a little bit of hope.”

And Chartier has words of advice for others, like him, who were overlooked the first time around:

“Any guys who didn’t get drafted this year, never give up. If that’s what you really want to do, then keep working forward to it.”

Slap shots: Colorado-based forward Ryan White decided not to attend camp after all. The 1991-born playmaker was originally scheduled to arrive Friday night, then attend the final two days of rookie camp and next week’s main camp in an effort to make the team. However, he’s decided to play midget AAA in Colorado instead this season. … Left wing Ondrej Fiala was at Comcast Arena Saturday morning. Fiala, who left the team last March to have knee surgery in his native Czech Republic, was in good spirits and said his knee was feeling much better, though he hasn’t been cleared for contact yet.

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