One prospect who garnered a lot of attention at the 2008 Memorial Cup is Mitch Wahl from the Spokane Chiefs. The 6’0, 185 lb center is ranked 64th among NA skaters by Central Scouting.
The fiery prospect scored 20 goals and 53 assists in 66 games with the Chiefs during the regular season. What was even more impressive was his style of play on both ends of the ice, which earned him a +33 plus/minus rating. Wahl kept up his scoring in the playoffs, with six goals and eight assists in 21 games.
Because of his special playmaking and defensive skills, the 18-year-old center is assigned to play against the opposition’s best units the majority of the time. His maturity is well beyond his age. He has the makings of a special player.
HF: How did you start into hockey being from Seal Beach, California?
MW: I got into hockey when I was pretty young, about six years old. When (Wayne) Gretzky came to play for the Los Angeles Kings, I was immediately interested and luck had it that hockey became bigger down there.
HF: How do you feel about the upcoming draft?
MW: I’m getting excited for it. I’ve got my focus on the championship game here today. After this I will be going to the NHL Combine leading up to the draft, and from there we will see what happens.
HF: Everyone raves about your maturity on the ice. How do you respond to that?
MW: I don’t know, it’s nice to hear. It‘s hard to not be nervous when you play in big games, especially like those in the Memorial Cup. I guess that I have been lucky to have my head into things at the right moment when it was needed.
HF: How have you improved as a player from the start of this season?
MW: I worked on ironing out the little things. I did this on my own and also with the help of the coaches. They helped me improve my defensive play, and also I found myself getting into the right spots at the right time. It becomes almost instinctive.
HF: With all of the other players trying to make themselves more attractive to the scouts and general managers that are here, what are you doing that separates you from the group?
MW: I do my own thing. I try not to do anything too fancy or anything that takes me away from the style of game that I am used to playing. It is hard to avoid the temptation of making an extra fancy move or pass, but you have to keep your mind on what is at hand and that is winning the Memorial Cup by doing the simple things well.
HF: What have you been doing while waiting to play in the final game of the Memorial Cup?
MF: Spending time with the team, watching the other games and hanging out. Trying to keep a low key on things and not get too anxious to play.
HF: What do you plan to do in the summertime after the draft?
MW: I’ll be constantly training. I’ll take some time off once I get back home from the tournament here and relax, get ready for the NHL Combine. Continue working on my strength and on-ice skills.
HF: Who was the biggest influence in your hockey career?
MW: My parents have been the most supportive. I live with my mom in Spokane, and the whole family has been right with me along the way.
HF: Who is your favorite NHL player?
MW: Alexander Ovechkin. He is so exciting to watch. What he does on the ice is amazing. What a player he is! He is unbelievable.
HF: What is your favorite NHL team?
MW: I’m a Ducks fan. Being from Southern California, we used to get seasons tickets to the games, so I have been a Ducks fan for quite a while.