Monday, 30 April 2012

Hurricanes Gearing Up For 2012 WHL Draft

The Western Hockey League holds it's 2012 Bantam draft Thursday, May 3rd starting at 8:30 am Alberta time.

For the 3rd year in a row, the Canes will have a top-five pick and for the 2nd straight year, two selections in the first round.  Lethbridge will pick 4th overall and then select 18th as well.  The 18th pick was traded to Lethbridge from Moose Jaw as part of the Cam Braes deal. 

The Hurricanes scouting staff has been busy traveling across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, BC, and Alberta the past six weeks looking at the top Bantam players leading up to the draft.  I spoke with Head Coach and GM Rich Preston as to what the Hurricanes are looking for come Thursday.

Pat:  Rich, you have two first round picks, 4th and 18th overall. What's the plan going in and how deep is the talent pool to choose from this year?

Preston:  "If you separate the forwards and defence, I think you're looking at some real top-end forwards in the top 7 to 8 picks.  Then there are a wack of defencemen, maybe 20.  I don't think there are really any top, top defencemen who would go in the first 4 or 5 picks, but saying that I think there is a lot of depth on defence in this draft."

Pat:  What are you looking for in a player this year?  Skill, size, speed?  All of the above?

Rich:  "Well, you hit the nail on the head Pat! A lot of times at that age it's tough to combine those three things, especially speed and size. As far as size goes, as long as I've been here, this is the most size I've seen in the four western provinces for Bantam-ages players, especially in the defencemen,"

Pat:  Rich, the Hurricanes have a lot of high-end draft picks over the past few seasons and the Lethbridge Hurricanes cupboard seems to be well stocked with picks now.  Do see a trade or two happening at draft time possibly?

Rich:  "Well, nothing yet Pat. But I'm sure there'll be some talk leading up to Thursday's draft.  At number 4, we're going to get a really good player, so it would have to be a pretty good deal to do something with that 4th overall selection."

Pat:  It seems like BC is really where some of the top Bantam-aged players are this year out of the four western provinces.  What have you seen?

Rich:  "As far as depth and high-end players are concerned, BC is where it's at.  Last year, I think Alberta held the edge there followed by Saskatchewan.  I think Saskatchewan might be the weakest this year actually.  Last year we took Ryan Pilon from Saskatchewan and our two picks in the second round in 2011 as well from Saskatchewan. Manitoba, I think jumped ahead of Saskatchewan this year.  BC and Alberta have always been strong as far as the depth of the draft, but BC appears to be the province this year that has the most depth."

Pat:  Rich, the last two off-seasons for the Hurricanes have been very quiet in terms of player movement.  Do you anticipate this team being more aggressive this off-season to try and fill a spot or two, especially given the fact you have plenty of picks in the system to use to acquire a player if needed?

Rich:  "You make a good point Pat.  With our drafts the last few years, we've had a lot of high picks and this year it'll be the same thing.  I think we're at a position now where we can fill in a need, whether it be an experienced defenceman or an older top-six forward or whatever.  I feel we're at that position now, we can fill that void if we have to."

I'll have updates on the blog as the Hurricanes make their selections Thursday. The Canes will also select 6th in round two.



  1. Lots of whisper's around town that Rich Preston is headed to LA Kings to reunite with Darrel Sutter. Any thoughts Pat? Scott

  2. I think it's funny (but not funny 'ha ha') that the press release the Hurricanes sent out didn't have a date when the Bantam draft was taking place. I had to read Pat's blog to find out that it's May 4.

    I don't think you're going to hear anything about the LA Kings until after the playoffs. Would be pretty untimely for the Kings to be talking about their coaching staff additions for next year while they're in the middle of a playoff chase.


  3. Preston is signed with canes until 2013, fwiw.