Steinbach Pistons forward Kyle Bettens was the only Manitoba Junior Hockey League player listed by Central Scouting for the 2019 NHL Entry draft which, was held last month in Vancouver.
Bettens was ranked 191st out of more than 200 players listed by Central Scouting as a possible selection as the young forward, one of the leading rookies in the MJHL last season, was attempting to become the second Piston in as many years to be drafted into the NHL, after goaltender Matthew Thiessen was selected by the Vancouver Canucks last year.
Ultimately the highly touted Bettens did not hear his name called at the draft, but that has not shaken his resolve, or perhaps it has furthered his resolve "to become the best player in the MJHL next season."
That is what the uber-talented Bettens said in an interview with The Carillon last week, in between his daily regimens this summer in training for the upcoming campaign.
The Winnipeg native comes with an impeccable pedigree, having won the Manitoba ‘AAA’ Midget Hockey League scoring championship with the Winnipeg Wild in the 2017-18 season as a 16-year-old, garnering 95 points in 48 games, including 40 goals.
Having already committed last summer to the NCAA Division I Bemidji State University beginning in the 2020-21 season, he started the hockey season last fall with the Fargo Force of the USHL. But he was Pistons’ property in the MJHL and after only eight games with the Force he opted to come to Steinbach and spend the balance of the season with the Pistons.
Bettens, 6’3" and 190 pounds, had modest numbers with the Pistons during the regular season. The youngest player on the team, he totalled 10 goals and 29 points in 40 games, but upped his game in the post-season with 11 points in 12 games, including four goals.
So it has been the quite the past two weeks for the burgeoning hockey star. First, he was among the list players for the NHL entry draft, which was held June 21 & 22, then last week he graduated from J.H. Bruns Collegiate in Winnipeg after attending the SRSS this past hockey season, and then yesterday (July 4) he celebrated his 18th birthday.
Pistons’ head coach Paul Dyck said although Bettens did not get drafted, he said "I don’t think it will bother him, it will probably motivate him. Just to get your name on that list is quite an honour and to know that NHL teams are interested in you."
"We are very excited for Kyle’s year coming up," added Dyck, "we saw what he is capable of last season, especially in the second half of the year. He will be 18 this year, he could be a dominant player for us."
Bettens was again drafted into the USHL this season, this time by Dubuque. But he has decided to return to the Pistons this season, where he knows he can be an impact player for the team and in the league this coming season. "Paul and the coaching staff are just so good, Paul Dyck is the best coach I have ever had and he is just a great person."
As for not getting drafted, he says it’s not something he is going to dwell on. After all, there is always next year, his name will go back into the draft.
Both the Chicago Black Hawks and Minnesota Wild, among others, talked to him and the Wild were in Steinbach watching him play last season. "Just to be listed by NHL Central Scouting gives you a confidence boost."
Of course there is one other thing that is motivating Bettens as he looks forward to returning to Steinbach in the fall. And that is the prospect of possibly winning a championship with the Pistons. "With the team we have returning, and the players we got from the Blues in the trade, we should have four solid lines this coming season."
In the meantime, Kyle Bettens is skating and working out five times a week this summer, putting in the work as he can’t wait to get started in the coming campaign in Steinbach.