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2018 WHL Bantam Draft Preview

It’s often described as Christmas Day for hockey scouts. The 2018 edition of the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft is scheduled for this Thursday, May 3rd, in Red Deer, Alberta.

After countless hours spent in rinks across the country and thousands of kilometres travelled, the Saskatoon Blades’ scouting staff and management will go over their final list with a fine-tooth comb in the remaining few days, hours, and even minutes leading up to Thursday’s draft.

The blue & gold currently hold 10 picks heading into draft day including 6th overall. Barring any trades, it will be slightly less chaotic than last year when the Blades picked 5th (Aidan De La Gorgendiere) and 10th overall (Kyle Crnkovic) before making three more selections in the 2nd round. Last year’s dominos fell into place for Saskatoon to get both players they had circled in the first round, however this time around could be different as the top ranked players seem to be up for debate.

“It’s a very unique year. There’s significantly less consensus than in past years concerning the order of players in the top tier of the draft,” says Blades Director of Scouting, Dan Tencer. “I think you might get two or three different answers from different teams on which player is at the top of their board and throughout the top 10 I think that the order of the names would vary more from team to team than in an average year.”

A common question heading into each draft year is whether teams will be looking to address a certain position with their highest pick, or simply take the best player available.

“At 6th overall certainly the mandate and the mindset is to take the best player available,” said Tencer. “Obviously we have a depth chart built out long term and we have an idea what specific areas we’d like to address, and what types of players can help us do that, but with that first pick in that upper echelon of players our goal is to start our draft off with the highest end player in terms of projection and build out our draft from there.”

The varying projections of player rankings in the first round combined with the results of a wild trade deadline in January has left three teams without first round picks (REG, EVT, SC) in the draft and three teams with two first round picks (RD, EDM, PG). Surely this has created discussion among teams and trade speculation among fans. Adding fuel to that fire, the folks over at draftgeek.ca put together a top 22 list. Logan Stankoven, a forward who put up 57 goals and 90 points with the Yale Hockey Academy in just 30 games, is slotted in at number 6 on the draft geek list. However, many speculate he will be selected with the 5th overall pick by his hometown Kamloops Blazers. Regardless of what happens, the Blades are looking forward seeing how the chips fall.

“It’s both exciting and challenging being at 6th overall in a scenario like this. On one hand, we could conceivably get a player that’s at #2 or #3 on our board; on the other hand, we’re likely to enter the day with very little idea of what’s about to happen in front of us. I’m really curious to see, on top of how the order of selection goes, whether or not this environment lends itself to more trade movement once the draft starts. I think it’s fair to say we’ve had more interest in our pick from teams wanting to trade up than in previous years.” explained Dan Tencer.

The preparation for this year’s draft virtually began at the end of last year’s draft day. Dan Tencer spearheaded the scouting calendar which came to a close just this past weekend with the Alberta Cup in St. Albert. With the recent success of former Blades’ first-rounders such as Chase Wouters and Kirby Dach, Tencer said his travels have been met with positive discussions about the budding Blades roster.

“It has been a really enjoyable year for me to be out on the road speaking to prospects and their families about our program in Saskatoon and the direction it’s headed. It certainly seems like we’ve become a destination that most of the players in all provinces feel really excited about,” said Tencer. “When you can point to NHL draft candidates like Chase Wouters, Eric Florchuk and Josh Paterson as well as rising young talent like Kirby Dach, Nolan Maier, Kyle Crnkovic, Aidan De La Gorgendiere and others, players and families can see what we’re building and how we’re developing talent for the next level.”

The Blades will look to add to that nucleus on Thursday morning as the first round is set to get underway 8:30am. Live updates will be available firstly from the Blades Twitter feed, as well as the Blades Mobile App.

Players eligible for the 2018 WHL Draft are born in 2003 and must reside in one of the four Western Canadian provinces, Northwest or Yukon Territories, or one of the 20 acceptable American states; Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Below is the full list of current Blades’ 2018 draft picks, recent year’s player selections, and the overall league draft order of the first round.

draft pick list 2018

 

2018 First Round Draft Order:

  1. Edmonton Oil Kings
  2. Kootenay ICE
  3. Prince Albert Raiders
  4. Calgary Hitmen
  5. Kamloops Blazers
  6. Saskatoon Blades
  7. Red Deer Rebels
  8. Lethbridge Hurricanes
  9. Prince George Cougars
  10. Seattle Thunderbirds
  11. Medicine Hat Tigers
  12. Vancouver Giants
  13. Victoria Royals
  14. Tri-City Americans
  15. Brandon Wheat Kings
  16. Red Deer Rebels (via Regina)
  17. Spokane Chiefs
  18. Kelowna Rockets
  19. Portland Winterhawks
  20. Edmonton Oil Kings (via Everett)
  21. Prince George Cougars (via Swift Current)
  22. Moose Jaw Warriors

2017 Saskatoon Blades Draft Picks:

1st Round

5th – D Aidan De La Gorgendiere
10th – F Kyle Crnkovic

2nd Round

31st – F Braden Plaschewsky
35th – G Koen MacInnes
42nd – D Kurtis Smythe

5th Round

102nd – F Kalen Szeto
109th – D Alex Ozar

7th Round 

137th – F Davis Frank

8th Round

159th – D Chase Barlow

9th round 

181st – D Kyle Lamoureux

10th round

203rd – F Cal Caragata
206th – D Zachary Veitch

2016 Saskatoon Blades Draft Picks:

2nd – F Kirby Dach
25th – G Nolan Maier
50th – D Zachary Ashton
91st – F Brady Nicholas
118th – F Nik Norman
119th – D Liam Antoniuk
135th – F Ryan Denney
146th –  D Nicholas Kent
157th – F Ethan Mack
179th – F Grant Silianoff
198th – F Logan Doust
201st – F Joey Moffatt

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