Growing up in Austria is where it all began for Charlie Elick.

With his dad, Mickey, suiting up for Villacher SV, the family spent six years abroad before they moved to Calgary where Charlie spent his youth playing through the minor hockey system.

But it was during their time in Europe that he would follow in his dad’s footsteps of loving the game.

“I went to all his games with my mom,” Elick recalled. “I would go on the ice after the games, that’s when I learned how to skate and got into it. Overall, it was great experience. I picked up a bit of German but I can’t remember any of it now. Started playing when I was five and when I was six playing against eight-year-olds, it was a cool experience.

“I’m proud to have a dad like that. He’s been through it all, getting drafted by New York, he knows what it feels like to go through the process. The experience he passed down helped me evolve my game, coached me through minor hockey, pushed me. I learned a lot from him, made me who I am today.”

NHL Draft prospect Charlie Elick dekes and scores

Drafted third overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2021 WHL Prospect Draft, Elick has been a staple on their blueline since breaking with the club on a full-time basis last campaign.

The most recent season saw him take hold of a shutdown role for the Wheat Kings, developing a reputation of being a difficult defender to play against while gaining more confidence on the offensive side.

“I took a lot of steps forward, building towards the draft it was a big year,” he said. “Points is what a lot of guys focus on but for me, I just focused on my game and go from there. I developed well, they gave me a good role to excel and play to my strengths as a player, a good stepping stone for me.

“My coaches put me in the right position to succeed, getting a lot of minutes, focus on one game at a time and be the player I know that I am. I didn’t worry about what happens in the future or the past and just stuck to my game.”

The past year its been a whirlwind for the 18-year-old, from meeting with NHL scouts, representing Canada at the U18s to finally taking part in the NHL Combine a few weeks back in Buffalo.

An eventful time to say the least, with things excepted to only get busier from the draft and beyond leading into the new campaign.

“Playing for Canada was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, winning gold with that group was unforgettable,” Elick said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen for a lot of players, something our team excelled at. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

NHL Draft prospect Charlie Elick shows off his speed

“The combine was a great experience. Seeing the top guys that I hopefully get drafted with is pretty cool to be around and know I will be battling with them years down the road is cool. Took away a lot from it, I have a lot of room to grow in my strength, get bigger and stronger.”

Later this week, in Vegas for the NHL Draft, he’ll have quite the crew accompanying him for the moment he’s been working towards.

“It’s going to be a lot, pretty hefty numbers,” he laughed. "Both sides of my family, some friends, (Wheat Kings teammate) Roger McQueen will stop by. I don’t know the exact number, but it’s going to be quite a bit.

“It’s pretty crazy to think how fast it’s gone by. Been a crazy experience and one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. "It’ll be a dream come true to hopefully hear my name called, exciting for me and the family with all the hard work put in.

"To say I worked to even get here is something I’m proud of and I can’t wait for it.”