Moose Jaw’s Yager aims to be in the top five in the next NHL Draft

Moose Jaw’s Brayden Yager scored 34 goals and 59 points in 63 games last season on his way to being named Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year. Now, the 6-foot-6, 166-pound center is aiming even higher.

“I set some goals for myself,” Jager said. “I would like to keep improving. I am proud of my 200-foot game. I want to be over 60 percent in the showdown circuit this year. [I will] Try to score more than 50 goals and 100 points. I want to win here at Moss Joe so that’s the main goal.”

If the Saskatchewan native checks these boxes, he’ll likely hear his name called pretty early on in the National Hockey League draft in June in Nashville.

Of the 2023 World Player of the Year category, Jaeger said: “I like to think of myself as if I am in the top five. That is my goal: to go into the top five. In this season, I have a lot of confidence. Be a fun process.”

During a conversation with TSN, Yager recalled the meaning of the meeting Leon Drystel while they grow up. The 17-year-old also revealed the important advice he received from Theo Florey. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

Your father, Cam, was a goalkeeper during his days with the North Battleford North Stars. How do you end up being a striker?

“He wasn’t allowed to play goalkeeper. I tried when I was very young, but he always said I would be a player.”

Why are you not allowed to play the goal?

“Personal experience. He wanted me to be on the other side. He was a good goalkeeper, but he always wanted me to be a player.”

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you were going the way of a goalkeeper?

“On little sticks and things like that, I’ve always wanted to be a goalkeeper. On the ice, I like to be a player, but sometimes I think about that.”

Well, things are going well for you as a striker. I scored five goals in five matches while helping Team Canada win the gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this summer. What did you get from the experience?

“We had an unrealistic group of players and a real talented team. The guys in our fourth streak could also be our first streak. It was a great team and we were so close. In such a short tournament you had to get close to the guys and bond with your team. It was an experience Brilliant and winning made it so much better.”

She broke Theo Fleury’s franchise record for goals by a 16-year-old last season. How did you feel when you met him at the Warriors Golf Tournament?

“We were at a banquet the night before the tournament and we sat and talked for four hours. Listening to the stories he was telling was really cool and getting some pointers here was really cool.”

What is the best advice he gave?

“Enjoy the process. He knows I’m a good player and said, ‘Just enjoy the whole process.’ “If there’s something he sometimes wishes he could do, it’s just enjoy the process. Sometimes you focus on it and don’t get a chance to back off and enjoy it. So, that’s something I’ve learned from him and I’m going to use to my advantage. Move forward.”

What advice have you received from your recently drafted teammates Denton Matichuk and Jäger Ferkus about what to expect this year?

“There is a lot of pressure, but try to keep it in the back of your mind. Just focus on playing your game because that’s when you are at your best. I learned a lot from them just by having small conversations. I try to pick their brains and learn as much as I can.”

What are you most looking forward to this season?

“We have a really good group at Moose Jaw so I’m looking forward to getting a chance to try to win. I think we have the team to do that. It’s going to be a fun process talking to the NHL teams and learning from their hockey minds. I’ll try and learn as much as I can throughout the process, and most importantly.” All, that I enjoy it.”

Why are you wearing number 29?

“Seventeen was captured when I first came to Moose Jaw, which is what I wore growing up. Growing up in Prince Albert, I always had to watch Leon Drystel When he was with the raiders. And then I love too Nathan McKinnon. He’s my favorite player in the National Hockey League, so it all ties together.”

Have you had any noticeable interactions with Draisaitl?

“I was a beginner and he, Josh Morrissey Sawyer Lang came to our clinic. After rehearsing, I asked for a stick and he gave me one and signed it. It is an all white CCM stick which is very cool. Looking at what kind of person he was, I’m sure he might not remember it, but the impact he had on me as a kid was very special.”

Anything that stands out about the stick?

“His wand has changed a lot in the last few years, but his big curve is insane. It’s almost like a paddle.”

Why is McKinnon your favorite player?

“The way the puck hits the ball and skates, he’s explosive and very powerful. He’s a very good player at 200 feet as well and obviously a winner. So, that’s why I emulate him. He’s a very special player.”

You have a really good shot. How did you develop that?

“Ah, just repetition. You always train as a kid, and as you get older, you keep working on it. In practice and games, you try to find new ways to shoot and I’ve found a way,” I’m relieved. I try to shoot as much as I can and hope they get in. ”

How often is the term “Yager Bomb” thrown at moose joe?

“It’s so funny. Some guys gave it to me about it. It’s a funny nickname and I don’t mind it.”

Moose Jaw opens the regular season with two games against Regina. What’s it like trying to slow the Bates phenomenon Conor Bedard?

“Well, I mean, there’s not much you can do. He’s so talented and you see that every time he’s on the ice. We’re going to play our game. He’s an unreal player and he’s going to do what he does better, but we’ll try to stick to our game and score more goals than he does, on the What I think… getting a chance to play against him is very special. I talk to him here and there and we are both very excited about this year.”