It’s the most stressful time of the year for NHL scouts as they take in their final viewings of players ahead of next month’s Entry Draft, which begins June 21st in Vancouver.

The National Junior A Hockey Championship in Brooks, Alberta has seen a plethora of pro personnel enter the Centennial Regional Arena where Prince George Spruce Kings defenceman Layton Ahac is among the players to watch.

He is rated 62nd among North American skaters in the final Central Scouting rankings last month, which also includes Victoria Grizzlies forwards Alex Newhook and Alexandre Campbell.

It’s been a memorable year for Ahac who is committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes for next season. The 18-year-old from North Vancouver collected 32 points in 53 games during the BCHL regular season and was a stalwart for Prince George in their Doyle Cup and Fred Page cup titles this spring.

Arizona Coyotes scout Phil McRae is one of many watching Ahac who caught up with MYPGNOW on his thoughts about the young rearguard.

“Layton is a big rangy rearguard and is a good first pass defender who skates well, he has good hockey sense and can get the puck up ice in the hands of his forwards and can join the rush well and has good o-zone skills on the power-play.”

So how does a scout affiliated with an NHL organization view a player like Ahac who is playing at the Junior A level and is destined for college – does the pressure of getting him into your lineup right away cool off?

“It’s almost in a sense you can draft players like that and kind of tuck them away knowing they are in good hands in the college environment getting the best of everything whether it’s training, nutrition, and most importantly the education as well but the extra window of development in all of those areas is a real positive.”

Ahac could go anywhere between the fourth and sixth rounds of the NHL Draft, but what about the possibility of a team betting on his upside and taking him earlier than expected?

McRae adds this practice isn’t all uncommon at the draft table.

“That happens quite a bit, you see guys for a lack of a better description going off the board or even going higher than or a little than what was projected and sometimes teams if they really like a player they may step up and grab him and not risk another team taking him.”

“Most organizations go by the rule they are taking the best player available so even a team that is deep with prospects or not so deep in one position will certainly take the best player that they identify fits their needs.”

Ahac and the Spruce Kings (2-0) are back in action tonight against the Portage Terriers (0-3) at 6 pm.

Brendan Pawliw with MYPGNOW is providing extensive coverage of the National Junior A Hockey Championship in Brooks, Alberta.