WHL Bantam Draft

5/5/2011

 
Today is a big one for WHL teams an the Bantam players they draft.  The kids get the excitement of having their name called while the teams look forward to a bright future.

A great new feature the 'Dub added this season was a live webcast of the first round.  I'm pretty sure that had a lot to do with the fact that 'WHL Bantam Draft' and 'Jake Virtanen' (the first overall pick by the Calgary Hitmen) were both trending on Twitter today.  The WHL uses social media very well and those efforts came through today as the Canadian 'Twitterverse' was alive with Western League talk.

Here's a quick recap of some of the picks by the Raiders, Blades and Pats (the teams I keep an eye on for MBC) along with some thoughts on the SJHL.

Raiders


P.A. was the only one of the three that retained a first round draft pick.  The Raiders used the 8th Overall Selection to pick centre Reid Gardiner from Humboldt.

Gardiner notched 50 goals and 31 assists in 24 games with the Broncos in the Centre Four Bantam League this season.  He comes in at 5'11, 165 lbs and he's sure to gain some more size, remember, he's a '96 born player.

In the third round, the Raiders selected another centre, Tim Vanstone (5'11, 175 lbs) followed directly by goaltender, Rylan Parenteau (5'10, 150 lbs).  Prince Albert finished out the third round by selecting yet another centre, Landon Welykholowa.

Other Picks at time of writing:
4th Round - Kristjon Finnson - D - 5'11, 155 lbs
4th Round - Spencer Meyer - C - 5'10, 159 lbs

The Raiders clearly wanted to add depth up the middle on their list.  While a couple of these guys can most likely play wing, it's interesting to see P.A. load up like they did through the draft.

Regina

The Pats had the 16th Overall pick, but dealt it to Moose Jaw for a couple of second rounders and a fifth round pick.  That gave the Pats a bunch of picks in the second round.

From reginapats.com

With their 2nd round pick, 25th overall in the WHL Bantam Draft, the Regina Pats have selected centre, Adam Brooks from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Adam is a big, high scoring forward that led his Winnipeg Hawks to the Western Canadian Bantam Championships.
  (111 points in 4o Games)
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With their 2nd round pick, 36th overall in the WHL Bantam Draft, the Regina Pats have selected Right Winger, Dane Schioler, from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dane was a line mate of the Pats 25th overall pick Adam Brooks with the Winnipeg Hawks. They helped the Hawks go to the Western Canadian Bantam Championships. 

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With their third 2nd round pick, 44th overall in the WHL Bantam Draft, the Regina Pats have selected right winger Bryar Ortynski from Edmonton, Alberta. (50 points in 43 games)
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Other Picks at time of writing:
3rd Round - Griffin Mumby - D - 6'0, 176 lbs
5th Round - Nathan Churchil - G - 5'11, 170 lbs

It was an interesting move for the Pats to ditch the first round pick and load up in the second round.  Whether they just didn't like what they saw in the first round or just felt it would be better to get more for the price of the first rounder, I don't know.  It does look like the two Winnipeg Hawks players they added could provide some solid chemistry.  We saw a similar thing with the Tri-City Americans when they iced a team with a bunch of former Winnipeg teammates and rode those players to the WHL Finals.

Saskatoon

The Blades were depleted in the draft pick department due mainly to their deal with the Wheat Kings to bring Brayden Schenn to Saskatoon.  It was a great idea in principle for the Blades as he was the top player in the league, but it didn't pan out after Saskatoon got swept by Kootenay in the second round.  I still have no clue what happened there.  The Ice seem to have hit their full stride at the perfect time.

So the Blades didn't pick until the third round when they selected centre Landyn Hickmott 66th overall.  From comments on saskatoonblades.com, the Blades really like Hickmott's skating and skill with the puck.

Other Picks at time of writing:
4th Round - Nelson Nogier - D - 6'0, 160 lbs
5th Round - Ryan Graham - F - 5'11, 165 lbs
5th Round - Ryan Rewerts - G - 6'1, 200 lbs

Without much to work with, the Blades seem to be distributing the picks.  Two forwards a defenceman and a goalie so far as the Blades look to find some diamonds in the later rounds.  It's always tough to tell how a player will develop, so it wouldn't be surprising to find these guys on the roster soon.
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With the event the Bantam Draft has become in the WHL the question starts to arise.  Would you like to see the SJHL conduct a draft?  A few leagues do it, though it's almost ceremonial with how recruiting and carding players works at the Jr. A level.

 However, that may be the right idea.  Going back to the publicity that the WHL Draft created today with news outlets, online media and social media the exposure can only be good for the league.  I'm not expecting the SJHL Draft to gain the same exposure as the WHL Draft, but I think it would create awareness and more excitement around the province if it became an annual event.

Let me know what you would think of the Nipawin Hawks being on the clock for the first overall pick in the SJHL Draft.

-D

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