Thursday, 18 April 2013

Hurricanes Draft Preview: Manitoba & Saskatchewan

In the past three years the Lethbridge Hurricanes have managed to land five draft picks in the first round of the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. Among those top picks, Ryan Pilon, Reid Duke, Thomas Lenchyshyn and Giorgio Estephan.

On May 2nd, 2013 the team is slated to draft 6th overall in this years’ draft which means they’ll land another top recruit and future Cane. As we get closer to the draft we’ll take a closer look at what prospects are available and how things are shaping up for Hurricanes General Manager, Brad Robson and his scouting staff.

Manitoba / Saskatchewan Preview: 

Every year, things go in cycles and some years, some provinces just aren’t as strong as the others. That seems to be the case with both Manitoba and Saskatchewan this year.
Hurricanes Manitoba Scout, Gary Hanson says “generally speaking Manitoba isn’t particularly strong. There are close to half a dozen guys in the first two rounds, more in the middle to late rounds, but very few defensemen and surprisingly more goalies this year.” 

Overall Hanson believes Nolan Patrick is one of those top end forwards that will likely go top in the top three. He comes from a good hockey background as his father played for the Wheat Kings and was a 1st round pick of the Buffalo Sabres. His Uncle is James Patrick who was drafted and played for the New York Rangers during his time in the NHL. Hanson calls him the best player out of Manitoba since Jonathan Toews, saying already at 6’2 he’s a beautiful skater.

After that, Brett Howden (brother of former Moose Jaw Warrior and 1st round pick of the Florida Panthers, Quinton Howden) is also eligible for the draft. Hanson says “Brett is a bit of a different player from Quinton, but as big at the same age, he’s a big power forward.”

Hurricanes GM, Brad Robson echoes those same sentiments saying “Howden and Patrick really set themselves apart from the rest and will go quickly in the draft. After that there is a drop where approximately eight players will be selected in the second, third or fourth round.”

Both Hanson and Robson like the goalies that are available. Robson says “Ryan Kubick is one goalie that could go in the early rounds and then you have a mix of five others that will go in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, but I expect the top 13 will go to forwards and goalies with defenseman going mid-draft.”

Robson added with those two provinces having a bit of an “off year” this year the depth is definitely from Alberta and BC and it showed at the Western Bantam Championships. (More on the AB preview to come.) “Saskatchewan has a lot of the same players as Manitoba although they have some pretty good players in the second, third and fourth rounds that has our interest. Some of the players are third and fourth line players, but they work hard and we can always use players like that” commented Robson.

With the Western Bantams and Sask First tournaments now done, Robson and his scouts turn their focus to the U16 BC Cup in Salmon Arm, BC from April 18th – 21st in Salmon Arm, BC.

(From Esther Madziya, Hurricanes Media Relations)