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2020 WHL Bantam Draft Preview

April 20, 2020 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Brandon Wheat Kings News Release


Brandon, MB. - The Western Hockey League's annual Bantam Draft takes place this Wednesday, April 22nd and the Brandon Wheat Kings are scheduled to make their first pick thirteenth overall. The draft kicks off at 11am Central Standard Time.

For the first time since 1991, this year's draft will be done in a virtual environment due to the WHL's response to COVID-19.

This year's draft class is highlighted by 5'8″, 165 lb. Connor Bedard of North Vancouver, BC who has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada. Born July 17, 2005, the recent decision makes him the first player in league history eligible to play full time as a 15-year old.

Thanks to winning this year's draft lottery, the Regina Pats will have the first overall selection followed by the Prince George Cougars and Moose Jaw Warriors. The Tri-City Americans and Saskatoon Blades will round out the top five.

For Wheat Kings' General Manager Darren Ritchie, this year's list of prospects are as deep as it gets.

"I think it's a very good draft and teams will be happy with their picks in the first couple of rounds," says Ritchie, who will be working his first draft as a GM. "There's some really high-end forwards available as well as a great bunch of defencemen."

In addition to forcing the league to an online virtual format this year, several provincial camps designed to showcase Western Canada's top prospects were casualties of COVID-19.

"It's always nice to see the year end Cups as they bring the best players together for one last look," says Brandon Assistant General Manager, Doug Gasper. "In saying that it's important to remember that it's only one weekend."

"Overvaluing one weekend at that time of year is something that all scouts need to be cautious of," he added. "Losing the year-end events doesn't affect us in our preparation, as the staff has put in the work throughout the year."

Since the WHL Bantam Draft was introduced in 1990, the Wheat Kings have chosen 36 players in the opening round. Last year Brandon traded seven selections and the rights to Sean Comrie and finished the day with three first round selections, which they used to choose Nate Danielson, Tyson Zimmer and Rylan Roersma.

As for a draft strategy?

"Early in the draft our mindset is to take the best player available," says Ritchie. "As the draft goes on, you can start to address individual team needs."

This year will mark only the third time and first in twelve years that the Wheat Kings have chosen thirteenth overall. In 2008, Brandon opted for Klarc Wilson and in 1999, they chose Tim Konsorada.

While Konsorada later served as captain of the hockey club, Wilson was a key piece in Brandon's acquisition of Brent Raedeke during the Wheat Kings Memorial Cup run in 2010.

Players eligible will be 2005 born players, who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

2020 WHL BANTAM DRAFT FIRST ROUND ORDER OF SELECTION

1. Regina Pats (from Swift Current Broncos via Lethbridge)

2. Prince George Cougars

3. Moose Jaw Warriors

4. Tri-City Americans

5. Saskatoon Blades (from Regina Pats)

6. Red Deer Rebels

7. Seattle Thunderbirds

8. Kelowna Rockets

9. Victoria Royals

10. Vancouver Giants

11. Medicine Hat Tigers (from Saskatoon Blades)

12. Calgary Hitmen

13. Brandon Wheat Kings

14. Winnipeg ICE

15. Prince Albert Raiders

16. Lethbridge Hurricanes

17. Prince George Cougars (from Medicine Hat Tigers)

18. Spokane Chiefs

19. Kamloops Blazers

20. Edmonton Oil Kings

21. Swift Current Broncos (from Everett Silvertips)

22. Prince George Cougars (from Portland Winterhawks)

SECOND ROUND (AND ALL SUBSEQUENT ROUNDS) ORDER OF SELECTION

Following is the order of selection for the second and all subsequent rounds of the WHL Bantam Draft:

(Please note that traded picks are not indicated)

1. Swift Current Broncos

2. Moose Jaw Warriors

3. Tri-City Americans

4. Prince George Cougars

5. Regina Pats

6. Red Deer Rebels

7. Seattle Thunderbirds

8. Kelowna Rockets

9. Victoria Royals

10. Vancouver Giants

11. Saskatoon Blades

12. Calgary Hitmen

13. Brandon Wheat Kings

14. Winnipeg ICE

15. Prince Albert Raiders

16. Lethbridge Hurricanes

17. Medicine Hat Tigers

18. Spokane Chiefs

19. Kamloops Blazers

20. Edmonton Oil Kings

21. Everett Silvertips

22. Portland Winterhawks

The order of the rounds will be the inverse order of the final 2019-20 regular season standings.

To follow the draft that begins at 11am Wednesday be sure to visit www.whl.ca and www.wheatkings.com.


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