In case you’re feeling unusually young today, we’re going to take a look at the players born in 2001 within the Blades system to bring you back to reality. Yes, that’s right… players born in the year 2001 are eligible to play full time in the WHL this year.
The 2016 WHL Bantam Draft was a memorable one for the Saskatoon Blades, headlined by 2nd overall pick Kirby Dach. Fans in toon-town got a got a glimpse of Kirby late last season when the rookie phenom was called upon to help fill the void left by a rash of injuries. Dach didn’t disappoint, putting up 10 points in 19 outings as a 15 year old. Oh yeah.. remember his first goal in the WHL? It was a dandy to say the least and he followed it up with another jaw-dropper later in the same game:
Since Kirby is the only one from this age group with experience in the league, we’ll start with him and move along through the other draft picks and list players who will be at main training camp next month.
Hometown: Fort Saskatchewan, AB
D.O.B: January 21st, 2001
Acquired: 1st round (2nd overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|Ft. Sask Rangers – AMHL||2016-17||22||6||20||26||6|
|Saskatoon Blades – WHL||2016-17||19||6||4||10||4|
Kirby is an exceptional talent, a special player. The Blades traded up in the 2016 draft to ensure Kirby would come to Saskatoon and after a long wait Dach will pull on the #77 Blades jersey for his first full season come this fall. Kirby has a natural hockey sense and processes the game with ease. He uses his 6’2″ frame to fend off the opposition while his skill allows him to make plays in virtually any situation. Of course he’ll be up against tougher competition in the WHL, but with 19 games under his belt already, Dach knows what to expect. This is a player with all the tools, but it’s his hockey IQ that sets him apart from his peers. Kirby is currently in Calgary competing for a spot on one of Hockey Canada’s three U17 National Teams.
Hometown: North Vancouver, BC
D.O.B: April 27th, 2001
Acquired: 9th round (198th overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|Vancouver NW Giants – BCMML||2016-17||26||13||13||26||16|
A late pick in the 2016 draft, Doust has climbed the rankings after an impressive season in midget this past year. A highly competitive power forward with great hockey sense and leadership qualities. Most young players need to learn to play without the puck or in their own end, but Logan thrives in those situations. He plays a mature game and understands his role in various scenarios. Cut from the same cloth as Chase Wouters, Logan’s attitude and tools give him a high ceiling when it comes to potential.
Hometown: St. Albert, AB
D.O.B: January 9th, 2001
Acquired: 5th round (91st overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|St. Albert Raiders – AMHL||2016-17||33||5||8||13||52|
Brady Nicholas is a hard-nosed player who excels when the going gets tough. Nicholas is most dangerous around the blue paint as his size and grit is constantly giving defenders problems. He’s tenacious in the corners and makes his presence known every time he steps on the ice. Nicholas’ first season in midget seemed to be a smooth transition in terms of pace, but contributing more offensively is definitely a goal for this coming year.
Hometown: Maple Ridge, BC
D.O.B: May 10th, 2001
Acquired: 7th round (135th overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|Burnaby Winter Club Elite 15 – CSSHL E15||2016-17||29||12||12||24||22|
|Burnaby Winter Club Prep – CSSHL||2016-17||5||3||2||5||4|
Ryan Denney captained his E15 team in Burnaby this past season posting 24 points along the way before adding another 6 points in 5 playoff games. Denney is still listed at 5’9″ but those measurements were taken last year; he appeared much bigger on the ice later in the season and plays that way too. He also put up a point a game when called upon by the BWC Prep team which is where he will likely play this upcoming season. Described as a smooth skater with good puck skill, Denney has the potential to be a regular in the WHL.
Hometown: Edmonton, AB
D.O.B: August 27th, 2001
Acquired: 8th round (157th overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|Northern Alberta Elite 15’s – CSSHL E15||2016-17||30||15||19||34||42|
|Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep – CSSHL||2016-17||6||1||0||1||0|
Intense. That’s probably the best way to describe Ethan Mack if you were only given one word. Ethan is a different breed, but obviously has natural athletic abilities. Mack didn’t play at the Tier 1 level his entire life until his 2nd year in Bantam which resulted in him getting drafted by the Blades and eventually, signing a contract in December. Mack played in the Elite 15 CSSHL last season and quickly outgrew the league. Bigger, stronger, and a step ahead of his peers at that level. He finished 3rd in playoff scoring with 9 points in 5 games. He’s constantly improving different areas of his game and his determination is almost intimidating. You won’t have to look twice to notice this kid at camp.
Hometown: Portage la Prairie, MB
D.O.B: October 19th, 2001
Acquired: 10th round (201st overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|Central Plains Capitals AAA – MMHL||2016-17||40||28||32||60||30|
An incredible rookie season in Midget has to excite Blades fans and brass alike. Joey Moffatt led the Manitoba Midget AAA League in scoring for the majority of the season before suffering an injury causing him to miss the last few games of the year. Still, Joey ended up finishing 4th in points and 2nd in points-per-game, and yes that’s as a 15 year old rookie. Oh and then the league MVP award too, so this kid is the real deal.
— CP AAA Midget Caps (@midgetcaps) February 23, 2017
Hometown: Calgary, AB
D.O.B: February 9th, 2001
Acquired: 3rd round (50th overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|Calgary Buffaloes AAA – AMHL||2016-17||32||5||23||28||16|
Calm and composed, Zach Ashton is an offensive d-man always looking to make a play. He has a knack for finding lanes to the net from the point, and boasts one of the better shots in his age group. Zach had no troubles being leaned on in all situations in his first season of midget and was 2nd in the league for points by a d-man. In fact, Zach’s point total was the second highest for a 15 year old defenseman in the AMHL in the last decade trailing only Kale Clague. Not the biggest defender but his wits and feet make him extremely elusive. Ashton picked up 1 assist in 2 pre-season games last year for Saskatoon, and will get serious consideration for a roster spot this time around.
Hometown: Sherwood Park, AB
D.O.B: March 7th, 2001
Acquired: 6th round (119th overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|Sherwood Park Squires – AMMHL||2016-17||36||10||20||30||40|
|Sherwood Park Kings AAA – AMHL||2016-17||2||0||0||0||0|
A character blue liner who spent last season serving as captain for his hometown Sherwood Park minor midget team. Antoniuk has displayed excellent ability to make safe plays under pressure and anticipate the opposition. Liam was awarded the AMMHL Defenseman of the Year and looks poised to impress at camp.
Hometown: Chestermere, AB
D.O.B: June 20th, 2001
|Edge School Elite 15’s – CSSHL E15||2016-17||29||4||21||25||46|
|Edge School Prep||2016-17||5||0||0||0||6|
Majid went undrafted in 2016 but quickly caught the eye of the Saskatoon Blades. He was almost a point-per-game player as a defenseman this past season, and was named the CSSHL E15’s top defenseman of the year. He also led the league in points by defensemen. A regular on the power-play, Kaddoura likes to get involved offensively whether it’s off the rush or in the zone. Since he wasn’t drafted, next month will be his first WHL training camp. Majid also attended two AJHL Spring camps to prepare for Blades main camp in August.
Hometown: West Vancouver, BC
D.O.B: October 3rd, 2001
|West Vancouver Academy Elite 15’s – CSSHL E15’s||2016-17||29||1||3||4||65|
Colton Sun came into Blades camp last year as an invite but earned a spot on the protected list. Sun has a fairly slim build but is one of the youngest players in the 2001 group giving him ample time to grow. He’s a graceful skater and has shown aggression even against much bigger opponents at last years main camp.
Hometown: Saskatoon, SK
D.O.B: May 15th, 2001
|Saskatoon River Kings – CFHL||2016-17||25||3||15||18||38|
|Saskatoon Blazers – SMAAAHL||2016-17||2||0||0||0||0|
A local Saskatoon kid who has caught the eye of Blades staff and earned a spot on the protected list. Gabruch has good size and also has a great stick defensively. Zach is expected to make the transition to midget AAA this year and he’ll get a taste of what it takes when he attends his first WHL next month.
Hometown: Yorkton, SK
D.O.B: January 10th, 2001
Acquired: 2nd round (25th overall) at 2016 WHL Bantam Draft
|Yorkton Maulers – SMAAAHL||2016-17||24||13||9||2.72||.920|
The 25th overall pick in the 2016 draft is one of the best young goaltenders in the country. He’s currently attending Hockey Canada’s selection camp for the U17 age group along with fellow Blades prospect Kirby Dach. Nolan was stellar in his first season of midget posting a .920 save percentage. Nolan managed to earn 13 of Yorkton’s 20 wins last season. In one pre-season game last fall with the Blades, Maier was cool as a cucumber allowing just 2 goals on nearly 40 shots. This kid is going to give the Blades management some tough decisions to make in September.
Training camp is now just one month away! Stay tuned next week for a feature on our 2002 born prospects before we dive into individual player profiles to get you up to speed before the players arrive in August.
The Saskatoon Blades open the 2017-18 WHL regular season at home on Friday, September 22nd versus the Swift Current Broncos. Game time is 7:00pm at SaskTel Centre.