At just 15 years old, Boston Bilous has garnered interest from here, there and everywhere in the hockey world.
It all started when he verbally committed to the NCAA’s Denver Pioneers last September at the start of his Grade 9 year. The move turned its fair share of heads, as it was unheard of for a Canadian goaltender to receive a commitment from a prestigious Division 1 program out of bantam hockey.
“Denver came about through my parents and advisors (Shane Corston and Allain Roy),” says Bilous, who played for the Delta Bantam Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League in 2015-16. “The decision was left with me and at the time I thought it was the right decision to make. No one made me go the college route or was pushing it on me. We went down to Denver and checked everything out and it felt right to me at that time.”
Despite his college commitment, the Edmonton Oil Kings went on to draft the Langley, B.C., native in the fourth round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft. The move was obviously risky, but it included the potential reward of grabbing a first-round talent with a mid-round selection.
After weighing the pros and cons of both routes, Bilous chose Edmonton over Denver last week. The decision came down to picking what he thought was the best route for him personally.
“When the WHL draft happened I was confident with Denver," says Bilous. “Then we did more research on the best place for me to play personally. I decided the WHL was the better route for me personally and they offered the best route for my development personally. We went over everything like the education, development and everything else."
Part of Edmonton’s sales pitch to Bilous was its strong track record at developing top-talent netminders. The organization helped Pittsburgh Penguins second-round pick Tristan Jarry and Edmonton Oilers prospect Laurent Brossoit advance to the pros in the last five years.
“That’s one of the first things (goalie track record) we looked at when we were deciding (over Denver and Edmonton),” he says. “We learned they’ve done a great job developing goalies and have had a lot of good goalies play for them. I was able to talk to Tristan Jarry and my brother played with Laurent Brossoit, so it was good to be able to know more about how they liked Edmonton.”
With an imposing 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame and a calm demeanor, Bilous has the makings of the next high-end goaltender to come out of Edmonton. A testament to his potential is how he was named the top bantam prep goalie in the CSSHL last year.
“I feel good about my last two years at Delta,” says Bilous, who is committed to play for Fraser Valley in the B.C. Major Midget League for 2016-17. “The first year I felt we accomplished a lot as a team.... last year I felt I got stronger and developed more.”
Bilous isn’t the only hockey player in his family. His older brother, Braxton Bilous, is a BCHL alumnus and Merrimack College defender. The young puck-stopper feels fortunate to have a brother to lean on for advice on how to handle the ups and downs in junior hockey.
“My brother is not only my brother, but he’s also my best friend,” he says. “He’s always there for me and is right there whenever I need help or advice with anything. He helped me this past year with my decisions and I feel he’s been a huge help in my career.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen