Another year has come to an end as the 1999 born draft class had their day yesterday with the WHL Bantam Draft. As usual, there were 1 or 2 players who teams took much higher and a couple players who dropped out of the first round. All in all, our scouts did a great job this year in identifying top talent. The goal of our scouting staff was not to mirror the WHL Bantam Draft but to rank the players who we feel should be ranked in a specific spot. That is something we will continue to do in future years to come.
As for the actual first round, the top 5 picks were exactly how we had them and all told, we had the top 10 players selected all ranked in the first round. Griffin Mendal, who was taken 11th overall by the Kootenay Ice stepped up and took the big defenceman who was injured much of the year which gave us very limited viewings. He did have a very strong BC Cup and we moved him up, just not that far. In the end, we had 16/21 players taken in the first round ranked in the first round. Cody Glass, Kobe Mohr and Jordan Hollett were ranked just outside the first round with Hollett being ranked there at various points throughout the season and was the 2nd ranked goalie. James Hamblin who went in the late first round to Medicine Hat was ranked lower.
Zane Franklin was the biggest faller if you will as we had him ranked 14th and he went at the end of the 2nd round. All of our first round selections were taken by the end of the 2nd round.
Several Americans jumped up and knocked a few of our western Canada ranked players down as well.
Bantam Draft Facts
Just 5 defenceman of the total 78 drafted were under 5’9!
18 of the 22 goalies selected yesterday were 5’11 or taller!
Saskatchewan with an all time low 25 players drafted yesterday and USA with an all time high 39!
30/35 Centerman taken were under 6’0!
Only 4/13 LW were under 6’0 by comparison!
Alberta – 67
Forwards – 40
Defence – 21
Goalies – 6
British Columbia – 60
Forwards – 30
Defence – 22
Goalies – 8
Saskatchewan – 25
Forwards – 12
Defence – 11
Goalies – 2
Manitoba – 34
Forwards – 19
Defence – 12
Goalie – 3
A look at bantam enrollment from the various western Canada provinces and various stats.
British Columbia (4.6 Million Total)
British Columbia had 60 bantam draft selections out of a total of 5820 registered players. Meaning 1 out of every 97 players registered were selected.
-1 in every 790 people played bantam hockey.
Alberta (4.0 Million Total)
Alberta had 67 selections in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft of a total 7208 bantam hockey players. Meaning 1 out of every 107 registered players were selected.
-1 in every 554 people played bantam hockey.
Saskatchewan (1.1 Million)
Saskatchewan had a low number of just 25 players selected of a total number of 2722. It was the provinces lowest total in many years. Meaning 1 out of every 109 players registered were selected.
-1 in every 404 people played bantam hockey.
Manitoba (1.26 Million)
Manitoba had 34 players selected in last years bantam draft out of a total of 2582 registered bantam players. The province led with 1 out of every 76 players selected.
-1 in every 487 people played bantam hockey.
It was no surprise that the Brandon Wheat Kings selected Manitoban Stelio Mattheos with the first overall pick. Mattheos has been ranked as either the 1st or 2nd overall prospect since we released our 1999 born draft rankings back in May of 2012, right after the 97’s were selected. The Wheat Kings took several other Manitobans as has been the case in recent years. Connor Gutenberg was selected in the 5th round and is a hometown boy, playing his bantam hockey in Brandon. Gutenberg fell a bit down the rankings as the season progressed but remains a strong offensive talent. They also took a pair of high scoring forwards from the province in James McIsaac and Leif Mattson who are smaller players but near the top of the Manitoba AAA scoring race. Jeremy Klessens of Red Deer went in the 4th round and is another player who dropped through the year from 1st or 2nd round status.
In our opinion, the Wheat Kings had a strong draft with a bit of everything. Defenceman – Ian Mitchell, Jarrod Gourley and Dane Hirst give them good depth and they also selected our top ranked Saskatchewan G – Hunter Arps as well as Justin Klassen from Manitoba who is a very under rated tender.
The Hitmen didn’t have a selection until the 41st overall pick where they selected Arizona prospect Mark Kastelic. Kastelic is a good prospect who our Alberta Scout Ryan Nelles was very high on and likely will turn out to be a good pick at that spot. His father Ed Kastelic played with the Hartford Whalers as a rough, grinding winger. They drafted some grinding type, hard nosed players who skate well in Markus Boguslavsky who is a local boy as well as Brett Didyk of BWC in round 4. Lucas Cullen, the captain of the Kelowna Jr. Rockets is a heart and soul type player who skates well too. The Hitmen seemed to look to good skaters who are tough to play against but don’t necessarily have high end skill sets. Brett Stapley of NSWC is a prospect to watch and fell much lower than we had him in going 151st overall, a few rounds lower than our rankings. Brett fell likely due to his small frame but has ample talent and could turn out to be a high end offensive player down the road.
The Oil Kings selected “bull in a china shop” type player in round 1, 20th overall in Lloydminster Heat forward Kobe Mohr. Mohr was either going to go quite high or plummet a few rounds. He has a nice combination of grit and skill and works well in close on the PP. The Oil Kings were without a 2nd round pick and took Brayden Gorda late in the 3rd and Jaedon Kalupar in the 4th which are both great picks at those spots and both players easily could have gone much higher. The Oil Kings also did well in nabbing Liam Hughes in the 7th round. After the top 4 goalies in the draft, Hughes may very well be the next best in the ’99 age group.
The Tips led the WHL in selecting 15 bantams in the draft yesterday. Headlining their selections is talented all-around defenceman and captain of one of the top teams in bantam hockey from this past year in Jantzen Leslie. Leslie is an anchor and one of the few true top pairing type dmen available this year. They went back to Lloydminster in the 3rd round and took high-scoring forward Bryce Kindopp. What may turn out to be the key of the draft for the Tips is in their 5th round selections. They had three picks and took small forwards Ryan Anderson of SSAC and Connor Dewar of Parkland and talented under-rated dman – Jake Christiensen of Hollyburn.
Kamloops drafted small this year with just 1 player over the 6’0 mark. They began the draft by taking the top defenceman in Nolan Kneen. Kneen has been ranked as the top defenceman for over a year in the ’99 born age class and can do it all. They followed that up by taking his team-mate and part-time d-partner – Conner McDonald. McDonald is a defenceman who trended upward throughout the season. A pair of late round Lloydminster Heat players could be a difference maker for the Blazers in Logan Ganie and G – Dane Dow.
Surprise, surprise, the Rockets took a high end defenceman with huge potential with its first round pick in local product and OHA dman – Jonathan Smart. Smart is the son of Jason Smart who is a former WHL’er. The Rockets didn’t have a pick again until round 4 but in our opinion they drafted very well considering where they had to pick this year. Cooper Haar, the brother of Garrett Haar is a big 6’3 forward and small, talented forward – Jordan Sandhu, the brother of Tyler Sandhu were solid selections. Add to that, late season risers such as; Kyle Topping of the VIAHA champion Cowichan Valley Capitals who had over 200 points, Nick Nordstrom – a diamond in the rough from Terrace and David Laurin – a high scoring forward from Langley. Colby Bukes of Colorado is a top western USA defenceman who will be a big key if he commits!
The Kootenay Ice always seem to pull off a bit of a surprise in the first round and they did so once again with the selection of OHA D – Griffin Mendel. It isn’t that Mendel doesn’t have the talent, because he does but he was injured for much of the year and it wasn’t clear to us prior to the BC Cup if he belonged in the top couple rounds or not. The theme of the draft set by Mendel was size and lots of it. The Ice drafted just one player under 5’11 which was Evan Thomas in the 10th round. They drafted several big, grinding type, 3rd line wingers and bottom pairing defenceman who project as WHL players but not likely to be elite players at that level.
The Canes had a very good draft and perhaps one of the top drafts in our opinion this year. Highly skilled Jordy Bellerive was a no-brainer at 2nd overall and he was followed by a couple very good defenceman in big 6’4 210lb Ethan King and BWC dman – Nick Watson. They also had to be pleased that high scoring winger Zane Franklin fell like he did to the 43rd overall spot! The Canes selected 10 players in the top 111 picks and had a mix of size, skill, offensive dmen, stay at home dmen and good skaters. Ayden Roche-Setoguchi of the Calgary Bisons fell to them in the 5th round and Brett Davis fell to the 4th round.
The Tigers pulled off one of early round surprises in taking Edmonton SSAC F – James Hamblin. We had Hamblin ranked as more of a 3rd round type talent but Medicine Hat feels that he fits in well to their program which happens in all drafts with various team preferences. Southwest Cougars G – Rilan Rommelaere was selected in the 2nd round which was surprising as well. Once again the Tigers drafted small with just one player over 6’0. Sammy Walker, a 5’5 centerman from Minnesota is the younger brother of the Walker brothers in Victoria.
The Warriors used their 4th overall pick to select the fastest rising defenceman throughout the season in Josh Brook of the Notre Dame Hounds. Brook sky-rocketed up the rankings this year and ended as our 4th ranked prospect, right where the Warriors selected him. They kept the trend of defenceman picks going in the 2nd round by selecting Marcus Kichton, the brother of Brendan Kichton who was a high-scoring, offensive defenceman with the Spokane Chiefs. Kichton looks to bring much the same to the table, although not to the high levels of Brendan. Size ruled for the Warriors with four of their final five picks being 6’2 or taller.
The Hawks took the 2nd highest scoring player from the province of Manitoba after Stelio Mattheos with Cody Glass going 19th overall. Glass got better and better as the season went on and raised up from being ranked in the 4th round, all the way up to the 2nd round in our rankings and Portland must’ve agreed because they nabbed him in the first round. Glass is just 5’9 but his brother is well over 6’0 and that combined with his skill set make this a very intriguing selection. The Hawks followed up with high scoring Saskatchewan D – Jake Hobson, the son of former WHL coach and player Doug Hobson. Then of course, the Hawks had to dip their toe in to the US market by selecting top 5 USA ranked Brannon McManus of Shattuck St. Mary’s and 2 picks later in the 4th round – Scott Reedy who is also a top 5 USA ranked prospect and his team-mate from Shattuck St. Mary’s. High scoring LA Jr. Kings F- Cole Guttman (8th round) and 6’4 G – Ethan Middendorf who Sean Burke knows quite well from Arizona were other Americans selected by the Hawks.
Any time you can pick the best player at a position, you have to feel you did quite well in setting yourself up for a good draft and the Raiders did just that in selecting hands down the top G – Ian Scott of the Calgary Northstar Sabres. Scott was the highest goalie selected since the selection of Carey Price who went 7th overall to the Tri City Americans 12 years ago. The Raiders didn’t have a 2nd round selection and would then use 3 of their next 4 picks by selecting defenceman with a pair of Saskatoon prospects – Ty Prefontaine and Ashton Heidt as well as big Southwest Cougars dman Cody Thompson. The Raiders took the tallest player in the draft in 6’5.5 Keevan Daniels-Webb from Interlake. Josh Maser, a high scoring forward from Penticton went underviewed by most teams until the BC Cup where he really impressed.
To nobodies surprise the Cougars stayed local with NSWC F – Justin Almeida who is actually from Kitimat, BC. Almeida though is an elite talent and definitely belongs in this range of the draft on his own skill set merit. They were able to nab D – Max Martin at 27th overall which is lower than the mid-late first round where we had him. Martin had a bit of a weak finish to the season which dropped him a bit down the rankings but was one of the top offensive dmen in the draft and definitely tops from Manitoba. Logan Mazerolle, who the Cougars picked in round 8 could turn out to be a good steal at that spot. He played on a weak Grand Prairie team but showed very well when playing with talented players at the Alberta Cup.
The Rebels put their chin out and selected Jake Leschyshyn 6th overall. Jake was considered a top 10 range pick but Red Deer likes his overall potential which is no surprise and we are not at all surprise that a player like Jake, who has grown 5 inches this year alone was taken this high. The Rebels had one of the strongest drafts in our opinion in following that pick up with local G – Dawson Weatherill. The big 6’4 goalie was our 2nd ranked tender for much of the season. Defenceman, Ethan Sakowich of Fort Saskatchewan and big Carson Sass from Melville are both solid selections. Following that were a pair of highly ranked Minnesota prospects in big 6’3 Austin Pratt and high scoring forward Grant Mismash from Shattuck St. Mary’s. Brayden Labant, Akash Bains and Chase Stevenson were all late round picks with definite potential. Great draft!
With the emphasis on drafting and having depth in goal increased now with the rule against drafting import goalies, the Regina Pats picked one of the three goalies who in our opinion were ahead of the rest in Jordan Hollett from OHA. The Pats selected just 9 players and will have to hope Erik Gardiner can produce at the next level or hope for 7th round F – Gary Haden to surprise to make this a successful draft for the Pats. Our opinion is that a few players were drafted too high but with no 3rd or 4th round selection, it made it difficult to have ample success.
The Saskatoon Blades didn’t have a first round selection this year but that didn’t stop them from having one of the top drafts yesterday. They used three 2nd round selections in drafting the AMBHL scoring leader – Josh Paterson 24th overall, high energy and talented F – Logan Christiensen and tough as nails and hard hitting defenceman Jake Kustra. They were able to select one of the top goalies from BC in NSWC champion G – Dorrin Luding who became the first Tibitan born goalie ever selected! Joel Gryzbowski was one of the top goalies in Saskatchewan and went late in the draft as well. The Blades look like they have a committed player in LA Jr. Kings hard hitting, talented F – Cameron Hausinger who is likely a first round talent they got in round 7. Strong draft and perhaps the strongest in our opinion.
The T-Birds started off with 6’1 defenceman Jarret Tyszka from Langley who can do it all and should partner well with ’13 first rounder Dante Fabbro for years to come. The Birds had a pretty good draft based on where they were picking. They took a pair of Colorado Thunderbird players in G – Hunter Bancroft and Baker Shore. It is unclear what the intention of Baker Shore is due to the fact that all of his talented brothers chose the NCAA route. They drafted a nice balance of players with a few players who should contribute well at the next level including another “Bear” in Wyatt Bear from Interlake.
The Chiefs are very fortunate that high scoring Alberta forward and our top ranked Albertan – Jaret Anderson-Dolan fell to them at the 14 spot. They drafted 6 players of their 12 total selection with players 5’8 or under. Leading that group of smaller players is Hayden Ostir (POE), D – Jake Harrison (OHA) and G – Matt Armitage (Edge). Parkland D – Tyler Jubinvil is a late Nov birthdate who is an interesting prospect to watch in the coming years. He is a highly skilled defenceman who looks like he can run a PP at the next level but is currently just 5’5. A pair of defenceman in 3rd rounder Matthew Holzer and late rounder Austin Shumanski add some size to the draft for the Chiefs.
Either we are very wrong or the Broncos are very right but probably it will be somewhere in the middle in regards to the draft the Broncos had. After selecting Dominic Schmiemann 12th overall (where we had him ranked), they proceeded to take Tyler Oakenfold with their next pick, albeit in the 5th round. We didn’t have Oakenfold ranked but he did have a good Alberta Cup after scoring 30 pts in 30 bantam games. Ben Kellogg, D – Noah King and G – Curt Doyle were all players the Broncos selected who we didn’t have ranked. There were just a handful of drafted players not ranked that were selected in total this year.
A no brainer pick at 7th overall selection Michael Rasmussen from OHA was their first pick. Rasmussen is a very good power forward and was our 7th ranked prospect as well. Round 3 saw the Ams take a pair of the AMBHL south highest scoring players in Calgary Bisons F – Kyle Olson and Calgary Flames F – Brett Leason. Olson is a smaller player at 5’6 and some compare him to a Brayden Point type. Olson should produce at the next level as should Leason. Conor Timlick fell to the Ams in round 4 and Landon Fuller in round 5 from Williams Lake are a pair of 6’3 defenceman who can definitely play at the next level. They finished off with a couple American prospects G – Dominik Vlaha who is actually from Washington State and Bryce DeFazio from Colorado. The SBAAHL highest scoring player in 5’5 Riley Sawchuk went late as well and make contribute.
The Giants selected Saskatoon speedster Dawson Holt with the 8th overall pick and followed that up with Brendan Semchuk who fell to them at 10th overall. Semchuk, who was ranked in the top 5 for much of the year fell in our final rankings to the 10th spot. Round 2, the Giants definitely loaded up in snatching offensive dman Dylan Plouffe of Sherwood Park who was the 2nd highest scoring dman in the AMBHL behind 2000 born Ty Smith. The Giants got ultra talented James Malm of BWC who fell throughout the year for various reasons as well as Owen Hardy of POE who had a fantastic end to the season. With all that talent in the bank already, the Giants took a flyer on perhaps the top player in the entire draft and definitely the top defenceman in Max Gildon of Dallas who has drawn comparisons to Seth Jones and deservingly so. Gildon hasn’t committed yet and will take his time in doing so says the family. They also drafted local G – David Tendeck who was ranked in our 2nd round of the draft. One of the strongest drafts and perhaps the strongest if Gildon reports!
Offensive defenceman Scott Walford of OHA dropped a bit down from top 10 range where we had him for much of the season to the Royals at 18 overall. The Royals, who had a strong draft as well in our opinion were able to get Ryan Peckford at 31, again a drop for the late 1st or early 2nd round where we had him pegged. A key to the draft for the Royals may be 6’5 Baron Thompson from Omaha and a pair of high scoring under-rated Cowichan Valley forwards in Ben Berard and Dawson Frank. Berard lit up the scoring sheet this year with Cowichan Valley scoring 122-117-239 while Frank had well over 100 points as well.