Kyren Gronick: Saskatchewan’s Best Export in 2019?

Kyren Gronick is one step closer to his dream. The Regina, Saskatchewan product was drafted by the Prince George Cougars in the second-round, 26th overall, in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. Gronick won’t be wearing his hometown colours if and when he gets the chance to play at the Brandt Centre, where he watched dozens of Pats games but that doesn’t bother him one bit.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the WHL. Since I was young, I would go to all the Pats games and dream about playing in this league.”

Gronick may have been somewhat of a dark horse in early  2019 WHL Bantam Draft projections but he soon climbed up the charts after a strong 2018-19 season with his hometown Regina Aces, in the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League. Gronick led his team in scoring this past season, amassing 27 goals and 26 assists for 53 points in just 24 games. He added another 12 points (5g, 7a) in seven playoff games, helping the Aces advance to the South Division Final. All he did in his two years in Bantam AA is produce, as Gronick compiled 91 points in 55 games over two seasons. He led his team in scoring in the last two seasons.

To some Gronick may be the best 2004 Saskatchewan born player in the draft- DraftGeek

The 5’10” 150-pound winger said his success comes from his work ethic, “I’m a 200-foot player. I take a lot of pride in being a hard-worker at both ends of the ice. I want to say I’m a good passer and I make the most of my chances.”

Those traits earned him the respect of his coaches and peers, as he was the Captain of his team this past season. No surprise the two players he likes to mirror his game after are John Tavares and Nathan McKinnon. Tavares the former Captain of the New York Islanders and McKinnon who is an Alternate Captain for the Colorado Avalanche. Gronick says he’s a lead-by-example type on and off the ice and isn’t afraid to speak up in the dressing room. Safe to say the Cougars are getting a character kid.

Gronick is described by his coaches as highly intelligent and extremely competitive and those traits are similar to his cousin, Chris Kunitz. The Chicago Blackhawks forward has played over 1,000 games in the NHL and has won three Stanley Cups, two with the Pittsburgh Penguins and one with the Anaheim Ducks. The Cougars hope Gronick brings that winning pedigree to the WHL in a year’s time.

DraftGeek’s WHL Draft Guide publication pegged Gronick as, “A new aged power winger who offers a forceful offensive game blended with nice smooth puck carrying and goal-scoring capabilities. Every team covets a big strong winger whose physical strong enough to get pucks from one end of the rink to the other, Kyren Gronick fills that role to a tee.”

Kyren Gronick and his Martin Academy practicing in Banff.
Kyren Gronick and his Martin Academy practicing in Banff.

So, where was Gronick when he was chosen by Cougars in the WHL Bantam Draft? In the Rocky Mountains of course. “I was in Banff with my Marten Academy team. We were on the ice practicing and one of my teammates came over to me and told me I was drafted.”

He said he took a break and shared the special moment with his parents,”I grabbed my phone and called my parents. I thanked them for always helping me through my career. It was a nice moment to call them and tell them the news.”

Gronick, letting his humble Saskatchewan roots show over the phone, said he was surprised to go as high as he did, “Really glad they (Cougars) picked me and I’ve heard great things about the community and hockey program.”

He’s on the short list to play for Saskatchewan at the 2019 WHL Cup in the fall, as earlier this summer he was named to the 28-man short list in the SaskFirst program. The WHL Cup features the top Under-16 players from the four Western Canada branches (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). The tournament is held in Calgary in October.

Gronick will be making the trip west in August for the Cougars’ Training Camp and he won’t be flying under the radar anymore.

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