Saturday, March 14, 2009

Looking To Next Year

The WHL bantam draft will go at the end of April with the Pats and Warriors both having the potential to have the number one pick. Jeff Bromley is a newspaper writer in Cranbrook and gives us an idea as to some of the top selections might be in what is a good read.

No top standouts for 2009 Bantam Draft
by Jeff Bromley

Looking down the list of eligible second-year Bantam players for the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft scheduled for April 30 in Calgary, absent from the top is a bonafide number one pick. Oh, there’ll be a name there when one of either Moose Jaw, Portland, Chilliwack, Red Deer or Regina make their lottery selection first overall, but just who that player may be is anybody’s guess.In recent bantam drafts gone by standing on top of the draft podium was someone somewhat predictable. Last spring the Red Deer Rebels made it widely known that forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out of the Burnaby Winter Club would be their selection, having won the WHL lottery and the first overall pick. In 2007 there wasn’t so much as a consensus on one player - save for perhaps American forward Luke Moffat, who as of yet hasn’t committed to the Kelowna Rockets after being selected second overall - as there was a group with players like F Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw first overall), D Mark Pysyk (Edmonton - 3rd overall) and F Charles Ingles (Saskatoon - 4th overall). In the season before that it was Allan, Saskatchewan’s D Jared Cowen heading to Spokane who was the runaway first overall pick. This year there’s no one player leading the race and as for who might breakaway from the pack is a subject of much debate. “After the top five a lot guys think that you can pretty much get the same kind of player later on the draft,” said one BC-based WHL scout. “The talent seems to balance out the deeper into it you go.”Nailing down a consensus top five, well, that depends on who you ask. But a hot commodity at the WHL trade deadline were blueliners, something there could be plenty of come the end of April. An Alberta-based scout - all of which requested anonymity due to the state security-type of atmosphere regarding opinions on the draft - offered his top five, in no particular order: D Derrick Poulliot from Weyburn, Saskatchewan; D Matt Dumba from Calgary; D Morgan Reilly, a Vancouver product playing at Notre Dame in Saskatchewan; F Michael Winther from Airdrie, Alberta and D Griffin Reinhart out of Hollyburn (West Vancouver). You might recognize that last name. Griffin is the 6’4” brother of current Ice rookie Max Reinhart and son of former NHL’er Paul, currently a defenseman playing Midget with Hollyburn even though he’s only 14. “A lot of teams think that Reinhart will go first overall,” said another WHL scout. “But overall this year’s draft is not as strong while next season it’s supposed to be much stronger.”One scout went as far as to say that the Pursuit of Excellence program, a hockey ‘hot-house’ school in Kelowna, could have as many as twelve kids drafted from just one team. “There’s kids that you could pick in the second round that could just as easily be fourth round picks.”

Potential first round picks, in addition to those previously named, as gathered by a three-scout panel from WHL scouts in BC and Alberta: F Jaimen Yacboski - Warman, Saskatchewan; F Chandler Stephenson - Saskatoon; F Shea Howorko - Notre Dame, Saskatchewan; F Travis Blanliel - Kelowna Pursuit of Excellence; D Kade Pilton - Kelowna Pursuit of Excellence; F Steve Hodges - South Delta; F Robert Trzonkowsky - Calgary; D Nick Walters - St.Albert; F Carter Proft - St. Albert, AB; F Branden Troock - Edmonton.

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