Tanner Howe skating

The 2024 NHL Draft will be held in June at a location to be announced. NHL.com will take a closer look at some of the draft-eligible players to watch.

Tanner Howe has his own unique style and creative ways of providing energy and offense as the third 17-year-old to be named captain for Regina of the Western Hockey League.

The left wing also carries with him an appreciation of the work required to become a professional and leader from the second 17-year-old captain for Regina, Chicago Blackhawks forward Connor Bedard.

"I learned so much from him," Howe said of Bedard, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. "It was so cool to watch what he did each day and how he took care of his body. I think the biggest takeaway was just how hard he worked and how bad he wanted it. I mean, he's the best in the world for a reason.

"How he worked out and how he practiced, being the last guy off (the ice). I've taken those habits into my game and how I do things around here, but it was so special to learn from a player like that."

Tanner Howe celebrate Bedard

Howe (5-foot-10, 182 pounds), an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list and a projected first-round selection in the 2024 NHL Draft, entered play Thursday leading Regina and 11th in the WHL with 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 22 games. He's tied for fourth in the league with seven power-play goals.

Last season he was third for Regina with 85 points (36 goals, 49 assists) in 67 games, and his improved skating and ability in the offensive end has him pegged as a top power forward prospect for the 2024 draft.

"You can see that he learned from watching and playing with [Bedard]," said John Williams of Central Scouting. "He's improved his skating over the past couple of seasons and he can play with speed and pace. He also brings some grit, can go to the net with purpose and is difficult to deny."

Howe spent the offseason training hard in the gym and skating often.

"I think I've gotten bigger, stronger," he said. "I put in some hard work this summer and did things to try to make myself have a good year and be consistent. I think to get to the next level you've got to be an unreal skater, so I've been working at it.

"I'm more of a power forward, like to get in the corners, throw my weight around, finish checks. I like that kind of Matthew Tkachuk-style of game but mix in a little Patrice Bergeron because I feel I'm a good 200-foot player."

Brad Herauf, who is in his first season as Regina coach after eight seasons as an assistant under John Paddock, said Howe is the type of player NHL scouts crave.

"However people view Brad Marchand is what I see in [Howe]," Herauf said. "He's a guy that's got that fire, that competitiveness in his game. There's not many checks he won't finish, yet he's got that offensive touch to play up and down a lineup, in the top six. He has that scoring and playmaking ability to play with elite players."

Tanner Howe backcheck

He's also been effective on face-offs, winning 53.8 percent (107-for-199) this season.

"Tanner plays a pro-type style of hockey, and when he plays for Hockey Canada, he can play center or wing," Herauf said. "He just has that ability with his 200-foot consciousness, has a really good shot and really high-end compete. I don't know if anything else pops off the page besides him just being an elite competitor."

Herauf, who had a front row seat to Bedard's record-breaking season in 2022-23, knows his influence on Howe.

"They were both young men when they were named captain and they're not perfect by any means, but I think they bring some real natural inherent qualities," Herauf said. "For Connor, it was his work ethic, every-day professionalism and focus he had to his development every day. I remember being on the ice with him one day last season and he said to me, 'Coach, hockey players should be selfish in their development,' and he's totally right. Individually you need to be selfish to be your individual best.

"With Tanner, he's the first one to show up at the rink, the last one to leave. He does the extra workouts, does all the things that was infamous about Connor. I think those inherent qualities of being a true example is what both young men have exemplified here. As far as their actions and their commitment to the team and their commitment to getting better, it's completely unquestionable."

PROSPECTS ON THE RADAR (listed alphabetically)

Cole Hutson, D, USA U-18 (NTDP): Hutson leads defenseman with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team in assists (13), points (17) and shots on goal (40) in 17 games. He's also a quarterback on the power play, having scored two power-play goals this season. The 17-year-old (5-10, 158), who will join his brother, Montreal Canadiens defenseman prospect Lane Hutson, at Boston University next season, played a big part in helping the United States to a first-place finish at the Five Nations Tournament in Finland (Nov. 9-12), with eight points (two goals, six assists) in four games.

"We talk about his skating and the puck skills, but it's also the hockey sense," said David Gregory of Central Scouting. "He allows pressure to come to him so he can find an open teammate, or if you come at him, he's so elusive that he's going the other way. He plays with such great confidence because of that ability."

Adam Jiricek, D, Plzen (Czech Republic): The right-handed shot (6-2, 178), the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Jiricek, has no points in 14 games in the Czech Republic's top professional men's league. He also has no points in three games with Plzen's team in the Czech under-20 league. He's had some growing pains this season, but the 17-year-old is gaining a lot of experience playing against older competition.

"He's a good, mobile skater for his size; a good two-way defenseman who likes to join the rush," said NHL director of European Scouting Jukka-Pekka Vuorinen. "Adam's an excellent competitor who works hard on every shift. He has all the tools needed to become a star."

Maxim Masse, RW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL): The right-handed shot (6-2, 192) leads Chicoutimi with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) and 72 shots on goal in 21 games. The 17-year-old, who has great vision and playmaking ability, was named Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year last season after he had 62 points (29 goals, 33 assists), six power-play goals and six game-winning goals in 65 games.

"He has to carry the load a lot and is showing good things with his all-around game," said Jean-Francois Damphousse of Central Scouting. "He has good size and shows a good compete level, great hands and puck skill. He's got natural goal-scoring ability, which he has proven at every level he's played."

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