Sports stats

 Brandon Wheat Kings

Prospect Update Part 1: Champions, Top Scorers, and Late Bloomers

March 27, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Brandon Wheat Kings News Release

Seasons in the U18 ranks across Canada are beginning to wind down, and quite a few of the Brandon Wheat Kings' top prospects are ending those seasons as champions, the best players in their league, or both.

As provinces begin to crown their AAA champions, and as regional tournaments prepare to kick off, the Wheat Kings have plenty of reason to be proud of their top prospects. One of those reasons is very close to home, as Jaxon Jacobson, Easton Odut, Brady Turko, and Ethan Stewart won Manitoba's U18 AAA provincial title.

"When a group has so much success as a team, it builds that winning culture, which is important," said Wheat Kings Director of Player Personnel Chris Moulton. "The fact that it's in our own back yard and they're doing some pretty special things, it's fun to watch but it's also easier for them to make the transfer over and the adjustment. They've just got to switch buildings and keep going."

In many ways, Jacobson has been the anchor of that group, scoring at a rate that hasn't been seen in that league in decades and adding six points in seven games with the Wheat Kings on top of that. He capped the Manitoba AAA season off with playoff MVP honours, the same honours he'd earned in the regular season.

"You never have the expectation that he's going to be as good as he is," Moulton said. "You hope that they (prospects) are because you believe in them, but he exceeded it for me. Not only is he a great player, but he's a mature kid. He's focused, he has team goals and personal goals, and the way that guy handles his business nothing is super surprising for me any more. He just knows the right things to do."

Not to be lost in Jacobson's campaign, however, was Brady Turko with a remarkable season in his own right. He, too, made his WHL debut and scored his first WHL goal, and clicked along at greater than two points per game in both the regular season and playoffs.

"There are a lot of kids we draft where it's 'fingers crossed'," said Moulton. "And what that means is you hope they get to a size where it's not a detriment to their success. We know the family, his dad is a pretty big guy, and every indication was the Brady was going to grow. He was such a good player at a young age, so smart, that all he needed to do was grow some. He didn't have to be huge... He's bigger than I thought he would be at this point and now he's showing his skill, his abilities."

At times, it can seem like Odut and Stewart get lost in the shuffle. According to Moulton, that shouldn't be the case. Both young men broke the 60 point barrier, and produced over a point per game in the playoffs to boot, and Odut in particular has already made his Wheat Kings debut.

"We need Easton to create offense as well as be that agitator," said Moulton. "We talk about the Brad Marchands and those guys of the world. That's kind of the role we see for Easton. We don't just want him to be an agitator, we want him to create, and his numbers show this year and in previous years that he has that ability."

The list of provincial champions only grew for the Wheat Kings. While Jacobson, Odut, Stewart, and Turko celebrated their championship, defenseman Emerson Clark was in the midst of earning his with the Saskatoon Blazers. He'd already had a season to remember, making his Wheat Kings debut in Lethbridge and joining them for the road trip through the United States.

"He's a smart puck-moving guy, and I think Emerson has a lot more to give," Moulton said. "I think he had a year of team success, but he was banged up a lot so I'm hoping, now that he's healthy and taking some steps, the playoffs pushed him a little bit more and the Western Regionals will give him another stage to show how well he can play. He's got to take a step again, and I'm looking forward to seeing him again in Winnipeg."

In our second part of this series, we'll check in on some other prospects in our pipeline, including three of the top young defensemen in their respective leagues and another young player with the potential to be a late-round steal.

• Discuss this story on the Western Hockey League message board...

Western Hockey League Stories from March 27, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Brandon Wheat Kings Stories

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central