Wheat King whirlwind

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:31 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Codey Burki is nearing the crescendo of his dream week.

At some point this evening the 18-year-old Winnipegger will be called to the podium and put on a jersey at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

The 18th-ranked North American skater in the final Central Scouting Service rankings could be selected as early as the middle of the first round.

The week has already been a rousing success for Burki, who on Thursday was invited to Canada's world junior development camp.

"I wasn't expecting it, I'll tell you that," said Burki. "It was great feeling just to be asked to try out for your country. It's quite an honour, even if I don't make it. Obviously now, I'm planning on making it."

After attending the NHL combine in Toronto earlier this month and interviewing with 26 teams -- including yesterday's session with the Vancouver Canucks -- Burki can't wait to find out where he might be going.

"Hopefully, one of them picks me at some point," he said. "I'm having fun, but I can't wait for (today). It's the ultimate reason I'm here."

The main reason Burki, who had 20 goals and 61 points in 70 WHL games last season, is here is his development.

"Well before this year, I never thought (getting drafted) would happen," said Burki. "I had a pretty decent year and then I realized that 'Hey I might go pretty high in this draft.' Of course there were times I could have been better but overall I took a few strides. I want to be better and more consistent.

"With me, the inconsistency is a result of a lack of confidence at times. Since I was 16 until now, my consistency is much better. I feel I'm getting better at it all the time."

Wheaties head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon says the best is yet to come with Burki.

"He's a great skater and has a real good skill level," said McCrimmon, noting the long playoff run in 2005 helped elevate his game. "He's got good size but he really skates well.

"He's still learning to be more consistent, but when you're evalutating players from a pro standpoint, the first thing you have to look at is skill and upside and in that area, he's real solid."

McCrimmon says it's hard to predict where Burki might go but expects to have him back for a fourth season.

"It sure looks like he's going to go somewhere between 20 and 40 and that's a good starting point for him," said McCrimmon. "Hopefully that gives him confidence heading into the season."


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