Nick Henry had no idea the ride he was about to get onto when he joined the Regina Pats at the beginning of the 2016-17 season.
“Coming into the year I didn’t really know what to expect,” Henry said. “I knew we’d be good because we have some really good, talented players but I wasn’t sure whether it would all come together and it all did.”
A year ago, the then-16-year-old forward from Portage la Prairie, Man. was a Western Michigan University commit and was helping the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Portage Terriers to an MJHL title and named the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2016. Wind the clock forward 365 days and the 1999-born winger is a highly-touted prospect in the upcoming NHL Draft after putting up stellar numbers in his rookie season in the Patricias’ red, white and blue.
“A lot of things fell into place this year,” Henry said. “I’m very happy with my decision. I don’t have any regrets on that.
“My family and I are very happy in the decision that we made because of the success I was able to have.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound sniper established himself as a key part of Regina’s already high-powered offense, notching 35 goals and adding 46 assists for 81 points in the regular season to help the Pats to a Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as WHL Regular Season Champions.
He then added another four goals and eight assists in 22 playoff appearances to help propel the Pats into the WHL Championship Series.
“We had a really good team, you know, we fell a little short but it’s a good learning experience for us,” Henry said.
On-ice success helped Henry land a nod as the 25th-ranked North American skater on the NHL Central Scouting final rankings.
According to the NHL’s scouting service, the former Everett Silvertips draft pick has “a goal scorer’s touch.”
Henry’s excellent season on the ice also gave him the opportunity to attend the 2017 NHL Combine in Buffalo earlier this month, which he attended with fellow Pats forward Jake Leschyshyn, where Henry said he learned some important lessons about being a pro hockey player.
“You learn a lot about yourself in those meetings because you’ve got to figure out how to handle yourself around all of those professionals and the guys that are the best at what they do,” he said. “They want to make sure that they’re getting a good kid and a hard-working kid who’s willing to do anything to hopefully play at the next level one day.”
With the NHL Draft drawing ever closer, Henry said he’s not stressing about what fate has in store for him in Chicago next weekend.
“It’s out of my hands now, I did everything I could,” Henry said. “For me, I did everything I possibly could in the regular season and in playoffs and then in the Combine I did as much as I possibly could in all those interviews to impress a team and hopefully impress them enough to take me.”
Instead, the WHL’s second highest-scoring rookie is focused on making sure he’s ready to help the Pats as they gun for the fifth Memorial Cup Championship in franchise history as Mastercard Memorial Cup tournament hosts during their centennial season, which also happens to be the 100th edition of Mastercard Memorial Cup.
“Your year is built out of your summer. If you have a real positive summer, you put lots of work in in the gym and on the ice and you work on your game, you’re obviously gonna be better because of that,” Henry said. “Next year the Memorial Cup will be very special year for us as a team and especially for the City of Regina.”
Nick Henry – Right Wing
Weight: 190 pounds
Hometown: Portage la Prairie, Man.
Acquired: Via trade from Everett, May 2016
2016-17: 72 GP, 35G-46A – 81 points
The 2017 NHL Draft takes place June 23 to 24 in Chicago, Illinois, with coverage provided by Sportsnet beginning at 4:30 p.m. MT.