There's a high probability that Tanner Kaspick will hear his name called when the 2016 NHL Draft takes place in Buffalo on June 24-25. The Brandon product was #79 among North American skaters in the final rankings by the NHL Central Scouting Service, which would probably make him a 6th or 7th round possibility. Like most players his age in the Western Hockey League, Kaspick dreams of a professional career. But he also knows the importance of having a backup plan, which is why he takes is schooling so seriously.
Earlier this month, Kaspick was named the Eastern Conference nominee for the Western Hockey League's Scholastic Player of the Year Award. "I think it's always been something that I've had a high priority for. Growing up, I've always done well in school so I've always taken a lot of pride in my work," said Kaspick recently, "Playing with the Wheat Kings, I really didn't change that focus. I just thought that when I have time to do the work, I just wanted to do my best and, fortunately, I've got good results throughout high school."
Kaspick completed his first semester of Grade 12 this year with a remarkable 96% average, and has since upped his average to 98% in the second semester including a 100% grade in Chemistry 12. He's completed three advanced placement courses and is described by his teachers as a focused student.
Unlike his high school-aged teammates on the Wheat Kings, who attend Crocus Plains high school, Kaspick has remained at Vincent Massey high school since joining the Wheat Kings. Kaspick attends two classes every morning right now, but that is when he's actually in Brandon. When on the road with the Wheat Kings, the challenge is a little different. "I've been fortunate enough to have great teachers and everyone who's helped me out and understanding of our schedule and they're accommodating to my needs," said Kaspick, "They make it easy for me to stay caught up and they're very lenient on due dates and writing tests on different days so I'm very fortunate to have such good teachers."
Kaspick says pre-Calculus was his favourite class to this point, and joked that with analytics making their way into the game of hockey that maybe it'll all merge together at some point and be something fairly useful in the future.
The Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Trophy for WHL Scholarship Player of the Year will be presented at the 2016 WHL Awards on May 4th in Calgary. Since the trophy was introduced in 1984, five Wheat Kings have won the League Scholastic honours, including current Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who was chosen the 1988 recipient. Other Wheat Kings to capture the Award are Byron Penstock (1994), Sfefan Cherneski (1997), Brett Dickie (2003) and Keith Aulie (2007). Penstock went on to attend Harvard Business School while Dickie earned an engineering degree at the University of Saskatchewan.
"It's always good to check the boxes and have a Plan B," said Kaspick, "Right now, I'm focused on winning here and being a professional hockey player but if I have to fall back on school, I know I have the right courses and I know I'd be fine on that route as well."