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The next step

by Tyson Giuriato / Vancouver Canucks

After four seasons in the Western Hockey League, Kellan Tochkin is eager to start his professional hockey career.

Tochkin is coming off his over-age season in the WHL, a season that saw the forward traded from the playoff bound Medicine Hat Tigers to the basement dwelling Prince Albert Raiders. Looking to make the most of his final season in junior hockey, Tochkin was hoping the trade from the Tigers to the Raiders would give him an increase in ice time and help his game develop, but after just 29 games with the Raiders that saw him register 29 points (14-15-29), he suffered a wrist injury that required surgery, ending his season and WHL career.

“I loved Medicine Hat and the players, but it just wasn’t the best fit for me,” said Tochkin. “I was put into more of a leadership role (in Prince Albert), and played a ton more.

“The wrist was a huge blow, but it had to be fixed.”

This was not the first time Tochkin had been traded in the WHL. He started his career with the Everett Silvertips, the team that drafted him 13th overall in the 2006 WHL Bantam Draft. He played 185 of his 256 career games with the green and silver, recording 178 points in that time. He led all WHL rookies in points during the 2008-09 season with 74 (20-54-74), enough to garner him a contract with the Canucks in July of that year, shortly after being passed up at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

During the 2010-11 season the Silvertips were in a re-building mode and shipped Tochkin to the Tigers to give him a chance to win a championship; the move came with mixed emotions for Tochkin. He left an organization he had been part of for half a decade, but also got a chance to join a Memorial Cup contender in Medicine Hat.

“I was part of the organization (Everett) for five years. I was drafted there and it was thought to be my last year in the WHL so they sent me somewhere I would go on a deep playoff run with. Leaving Everett was very tough for me, but it was a good learning experience.”

Now Tochkin gets a fresh start at the professional level, something that can not come soon enough for the 21-year-old.

“I am counting down the days until rookie camp,” he said. “I’ve been working extremely hard to prove I belong.”

Tochkin has been working out in Langley this off-season, doing a program that includes lifting weights five times a week, hot-yoga three times a week along with on-ice workouts. He is hoping all the hard work he is putting in will get him in better shape and help him become speedier on the ice.

“I want to get my body fat (percentage) to single digits,” he said. “And not just be an average skater, but a great skater, something I need to be able to play in the NHL.

“I think after the summer I will be ready and look forward to the challenge of playing against men.”

This isn’t the first time Tochkin has gone through a summer preparing for pro hockey. He was hoping to make the jump to the AHL last season, but due to a full Chicago Wolves roster, he was caught in a numbers game and returned to junior.

One of three Canucks prospects to hail from British Columbia – Wes Myron (Victoria) and Prab Rai (Surrey) the others – Tochkin is a naturally gifted playmaker that uses his hockey smarts to excel on the ice and he believes he can bring more than offense to his game at the professional level.

“I feel I can be a reliable two-way player. As well as a reliable special teams player on the powerplay and penalty kill.”

Healthy and motivated, the season can not start soon enough for Kellan Tochkin, who is thirsty for his first taste of professional hockey.

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