The Lethbridge Hurricanes will have two picks in the top five in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, the first time in franchise history.
After the draft lottery was held in Calgary Wednesday and the Hurricanes found out they would be picking 3rd and 5th overall, the work is now underway to identify who the Canes' think are the top five players available in 2011. In fact, the work has been underway for sometime now, but knowing what spots they will choose in makes whittling things down a little easier.
I spoke with Assistant G.M. and Director of Player Personnel Brad Robson shortly after the draft lottery concluded.
Pat: Now that the lottery is over, you have picks 3 and 5. What are your thoughts?
Robson: "Well, we've always had a list of the top ten and now we know we'll be picking in the top five. I think the key to this also is that people have to remember that we have four picks in the top 29. Those two second round picks are going to be just as important as the 3rd and 5th picks. So it's starting to unfold here. We are very positive and excited to see how this will all transpire this coming season and I think with last year's draft and all the 16 year olds that went back to Midget "AAA" and are coming into camp this year....a year older and playing in key situations for their teams, I think it's very exciting for our future."
Pat: Brad, are you going to target a defenceman and forward with these two picks or what direction do you guys have planned?
Robson: "Our philosophy is we will take the two best players available at the time. Calgary gets the first pick, Swift Current second, then us, Kamloops, and then Lethbridge again. So it depends on what these other teams do. We'll have to see on draft day what unfolds and like I said, whatever two players are taken by Calgary and Swift Current, we will take the next best player available on our list."
Pat: Is there a clear-cut number one this year? Forsberg was the consensus number one last year. How about in 2011?
Robson: "Really, I think the first overall pick could be anyone, but I think in the top five there are five players that have probably moved themselves above the rest of the group, but like I said, we're just going to have to sit back and wait. We're whittling our top 10 and top 30 lists down after today, knowing we have two picks in the top five. The two guys we take are going to be very good hockey players."
Pat: Brad, how important now is your job, along with Rich Preston and the rest of the Hurricanes scouting staff to make sure you nail this draft on the head?
Robson: "Well, every draft is important and this is just as important as we do have four picks in the top 29. We will be working hard and watching the top 30 just as closely as guys that'll be drafted in the 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds. These next six to seven weeks are going to be important leading up to May 5th. These are going to be exciting times for our staff and for the Lethbridge Hurricanes hockey club down the road."
Pat: The last time a team had two top selections was Saskatoon and they took Siemens and Benson and that's helped them build to where they are now.
Robson: "Well, that's exactly it. They had the 3rd and 5th picks, like we are getting this May. They took Duncan Siemens with three and Brett Benson with number five. Because of those two picks they will be fighting, probably right to the bitter end in the WHL playoffs this year."
Of course, last year in the 2010 draft, the Hurricanes selected Jay Merkley with the 3rd overall selection. He was the highest-ever draft player by this Lethbridge organization.
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