The Chilliwack Chiefs have added skill to the 2018-19 roster, securing the services of Carter Wilkie.
The 2000-born forward hails from Calgary and spent his last two seasons with the International Hockey Academy midget prep team, based out of Chestermere, AB.
Wilkie led his team in regular season scoring last year with 11 goals and 24 points in 24 games.
“I think I had a phenomenal year and grew so much as a player, captaining the team and learning a lot about the small details that make a good player,” the teenager said. “I had the opportunity to play junior last year (2017-18), but I wanted to go back for one more year and give myself the chance to play in a stronger league.
“I’m so happy I went back for that extra year of development and growth and I wouldn’t trade that experience in for anything.”
Now it’s on to the next step for six-foot and 175 pounder.
Chilliwack fans may have concerns about this summer’s recruiting, what with the ousting of previous head coach Jason Tatarnic just before the RBC Cup.
In Wilkie’s case, it was new bench boss Brian Maloney who took the lead in recruiting.
Wilkie visited Chilliwack for a week just before the RBC Cup and Maloney said what he wanted to hear.
“Jacob Bestebroer reached out to me in February and we talked a couple times, then it was Brian,” Wilkie said. “He made a huge impression on me with how straight up and honest he was with me.
“A lot of coaches will just tell you what you want to hear, but he told me everything right then and there and I appreciated that.”
Maloney didn’t just pump Wilkie’s tires to get him in the door. He delivered a detailed assessment of the teenager’s game, good and bad.
“He told me what I do well, but he was also able to pick out my flaws and tell me what I need to work on just to be a productive player,” Wilkie explained. “Other teams just told me what they like about me and how I could start for them, where Brian told me how I could earn my icetime by improving certain areas of my game.”
Wilkie’s greatest strength is his hockey IQ and how well he sees the ice.
The defenceman is solid along the boards, not shy about wading into a puck battle and his defensive stick work is very good.
“Brian said my skating is OK, but I need to work on it to compete at this level,” Wilkie continued. “And while I can play at both ends, he feels I can work on my defensive game and improve my reads and my coverage.”
That and the usual ‘get bigger and stronger,’ but Maloney is excited to get Wilkie here for camp and get to work.
“Carter is a kid that we’ve been watching for a few years now,” the coach said. “He has the ability to be played in any position up and down our lineup.
“He has fantastic character and seems like he’s willing to learn and accept the challenges ahead.”
Wilkie has a smidge of junior A experience, logging six games for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Mustangs last season.
He collected two assists and four penalty minutes.
It must have been tempting for the Calgary kid to stay home, but the strength of the BCHL drew him west.
“It was a fun and eye-opening experience with the Mustangs and they gave me a great opportunity to see what it’s like to play junior A,” Wilkie said. “I got to play against a really good team, the Okotoks Oilers, and it was very helpful.
“But when you look at the rosters and scores in the BCHL and the bottom-end teams, even when they’re losing they’re still able to compete with the top-end teams.”
Team goals aside, Wilkie is setting bold goals for 2018-19.
He expects an uphill battle at the start as he adapts to the size and speed of opponents at a higher level, but once he hits his stride he expects big things.
“I know what type of player I am and I’d like to be able to produce for the team. Ideally, I’d like to be point-per-game, but if that doesn’t happen I want to be contributing something else to make our team successful,” he said. “I want to be a day-to-day guy who’s consistently effective each game.
I’m so excited and ready to get after it.”