NHL Draft

Indigenous player spotlight: Conner Roulette & Israel Mianscum

The 2021 NHL Draft takes place this weekend. The next part of TWC’s draft coverage focuses on two indigenous players eligible to be selected this year. A big thank you goes out to Hockey Indigenous (@HKYIndigenous) for their help with this part of our draft series.

Conner Roulette

Conner Roulette just wrapped up his third WHL season with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. He’s ranked 52nd on TWC’s consolidated draft rankings, and 36th among North American’ skaters on Central Scouting’s final rankings. Roulette is Cree/Ojibway from Misipawistik Cree Nation and Sandy Bay First Nation.

He grew up in Winnipeg, MB playing, and dominating, at the AAA level. He made his WHL debut in 2018–19 playing one game for the Thunderbirds. The following season, he put up 19 goals and 39 points in 54 games, adding in 21 penalty minutes and finishing plus-13 on the season.

Roulette really saw his game take off this past season, albeit a short one due to the COVID pandemic. In 11 games with the Thunderbirds, Roulette scored six goals and six assists for 12 points in just 11 WHL games. He also represented Canada in the U-18s where he scored two goals and five points in seven games.

This offensive outburst resulted in a nice boost up draft boards, and Roulette might just hear his name called on the first day of the draft.

Scouts rave about Roulette’s goal scoring ability. His shot is heavy and deceptive, and he excels at finding open space in the offensive zone to unleash his borderline elite shot. It’s clear he loves to score goals. Roulette is feisty around the net, battles hard to get his stick on the puck in tight, and digs to finish plays around the crease. Here’s a clip of him taking over a play to score goal at the U-18s for Canada.

And here’s another one from the WHL.

On top of his shot, Roulette also possesses excellent playmaking skills. He’s definitely a shoot first player, but has a knack of finding open teammates and can set up plays with ease.

His skating and defensive work could use some improvement, and it’s these areas that he’ll need to work on to become a fixture in the NHL. However, there is always a need for goal scoring skill in the NHL, so with some work to round out his game, Roulette has a great shot to have a good career in the show.

Roulette will likely be taken in the second or third round of this year’s draft.

Israel Mianscum

Israel Mianscum has Cree heritage and hails from the Cree Nation of Mistissini. He’s ranked 202nd among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings. He was born in Mistissini, QC and played AAA with Rouyn-Noranda and Amos in Quebec. He started his junior career with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix in the 2019–20 season and just finished his second season there.

In his first season in the Q, Mianscum put up a respectable four goals and 16 points in 52 games. It wasn’t the most dominant of seasons, but it was his first taste of the CHL and he improved in his second year. The shortened 2020–21 season saw Mianscum score seven goals and 10 points in 22 games, close to a half point per game in the brief campaign.

Mianscum’s scoring totals have to be taken with a grain of salt. In his first year in Sherbrooke, the team was one of the best in the QMJHL and he was paying behind a stacked roster of very good older players. The script was completely flipped this past season, when Sherbrooke was the worst team in the league, finishing with just 18 points the whole year. They were also unable to play the same number of games as other teams due to the pandemic, only getting in 27 compared to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies who played 40. It was not an easy year for the Phoenix, and Mianscum still improved his scoring pace considerably in spite of that.

The most frequent praise Mianscum gets from scouts is how well he uses his size to be a dominating power forward at the junior level. He skates very well and plays a solid two-way game, making him a reliable player in all situations. There’s a reason he was selected by the Phoenix 10th overall in the 2019 QMJHL draft.

Here’s a clip of his first goal of the season, a quick wrister right off an offensive zone faceoff win.

Ranked anywhere from the mid 100s to the mid 200s, there’s an equal chance Mianscum get’s selected in later rounds as not selected this year at all. However, as his comfort grows, Mianscum could turn into a very productive player in the Q and work his way onto a professional roster from there.

Best of luck to both Roulette and Mianscum at the draft and in their hockey careers.

Featured image made with Venngage.

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