Draft Preview: Wouters hoping hard work pays off
Work, work, and more work. That’s what’s on the menu for Chase Wouters 365 days a year and the 18-year-old Lloydminster product wouldn’t have it any other way.
For the past two seasons in Saskatoon there has been one thing fans can expect when they come to the rink; a full, honest, 110% effort from #44. After posting 21 points in his rookie season as a 16-year-old, Chase Wouters climbed up the rankings in his sophomore season. He took on a top-six role with the Blades centering a line between Braylon Shmyr and Josh Paterson. The trio made up the most potent offensive line for the Blades while Wouters more than doubled his point totals finishing the season with 51.
However, offense is only one part of the package when it comes to Chase Wouters. He prides himself on being a complete player on both sides of the puck and in all situations. Never shy to lay down and block a shot, drop the gloves to stand up for a teammate, or take a hit in order to make a play. Plus the constant, relentless pursuit to win every battle on the ice. And that’s just in games. If you’re not giving it your all in practice, he will hold you accountable.
Wouters has been named the Saskatoon Blades ‘Hardest Working Player’ in each of his two season with the team and it’s probably the only team award that created zero debate. So naturally, Wouters work ethic and presence is enough to be called a leader but of course he works at his leadership qualities, too.
Fast forward to this past season when Wouters found his jersey to a be a tad heavier on the left side due to a crisp letter ‘A’ being sewn on. In fact, he will be the only returning Blade who wore a letter on his sweater last year creating speculation he could be the next captain.
“Yeah it’s something I’ve thought about but it doesn’t really change anything for me,” said Wouters. “I just try to do my thing, I keep in touch with the guys, and most of all I’m just excited to get back to Saskatoon and get going again.”
Wouters admits when he first broke into the WHL he wasn’t really aware of the process to properly take care of his body. But he watched and learned from teammates such as Libor Hájek (New York Rangers) and Cameron Hebig (Edmonton Oilers).
“I think all the players noticed them, they were the guys always in the gym, always taking care of their body, so learning how to do that and the importance of it I think has really helped me and will continue to help.”
Don’t expect anything different away from the rink, either. Chase was named the Eastern Conference Scholastic Player of the Year this past season for efforts in school. With graduation on the horizon, Wouters attained honours student status throughout all three years of high school, maintaining an 89% average in Grade 10, a 90% average in Grade 11, and an 89% average in Grade 12.
During the off-season, Wouters has worked at a local golf course in his hometown but has decided to make the switch to something a little more labour intensive this summer. Starting in July, Chase will be tossing on the coveralls in the oilfield to work for a family friend’s company.
“I kinda like doing the hard work, a little more labour. The golf course was nice but there’s a little more sitting around. I like to keep moving,” explained Wouters. As mentioned earlier, the kid prefers a steady diet of work.
That work-ethic also earned Chase a spot on Canada’s National U-18 squad in April at the World Under 18 Championships in Russia. Despite a disappointing finish for Canada, Wouters managed to get on the scoresheet with 2 goals and 3 points in 5 tournament games.
Now this weekend is something Chase has admittedly had on his mind for quite some time, but he insists not putting too much weight on the outcome.
“It’s kind of always in the back of your mind, since the beginning of the season. But I was given a great opportunity to play with some really good linemates in Saskatoon that obviously helped out,” said Wouters from his home in Lloydminster. “Going over to Russia was an amazing experience and anytime you can represent your country it’s a huge honour. So at the end of the day I think it was a good year for me on a personal level and whatever happens this weekend I know it will be good.”
Wouters’ final ranking on the NHL’s Central Scouting list was 92nd among North American skaters.
Wouters will be taking in the NHL Draft with his family via satellite dish at their cabin this weekend. Elsewhere, friends and fans of Saskatoon’s number 44 will await to see which NHL team will reward Chase for his hard work.
The 2018 NHL Entry Draft will go live from Dallas, TX, at 5:30pm Friday evening. Rounds 2-7 will resume Saturday morning at 9:00am.