In the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Draft, with the 148th overall pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected left winger Kale Howarth, from the Trail Smoke Eaters (great team name) of the British Columbia Hockey League.
The BCHL is a level below the WHL, so Howarth hasn’t been tested against great competition. In addition, he is 20 years old so he is older than most prospects. He is committed to play at the University of Connecticut so he is many years away from contributing to the Jackets organization.
The biggest upside for this pick? Size. Howarth stands 6’5”. That alone makes this an intriguing selection.
Older prospects re-entering the draft for the first or second time provide an interesting set of risks and rewards every year. Players in their second or third trip through the process are older, more physically mature and closer to what they’re going to be as fully-fledged adults (or pro players). That said, the success they have in their preceding seasons could be seen as a product of their maturity rather than their talent – something that can disappear when they’re a young professional. Kale Howarth represents one of the most interesting dilemmas of the 2017 draft class.
The lone Central Scouting-ranked player from the British Columbia Hockey League in the entire 2017 class, Howarth is in his third trip through the draft. He ended up in the BCHL after not being chosen in the Western Hockey League’s draft. After a solid rookie season as an 18-year-old, he exploded offensively as a 19-year-old – doubling his previous offensive totals. That said, Howarth’s explosion put him 24th in BCHL scoring and a good deal of his production can be attributed to his prodigious size; at 6’5″ and 207 pounds, he’s already got NHL size. - The Hockey Writers