The 2011 WHL Bantam Draft kicked off Thursday morning from the Palomino Room at the BMO Centre in Calgary.
The Calgary Hitmen retained the first overall selection in the 2011 Bantam Draft Lottery and used their pick to select Jake Virtanen of Abbotsford – this marks the first time since their inaugural Bantam Draft that the Hitmen held the first overall pick.
In a historic first round the Lethbridge Hurricanes made two selections in the Top 5 to kick off the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. The hockey club was very proud to select defenseman Ryan Pilon (PEEL-on) with the 3rd overall pick before selecting forward Reid Duke with the 5th overall pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. The Hurricanes acquired the 3rd overall pick (Regina’s first round selection) last season as a result of the Carter Ashton trade which also saw the Canes acquire Graham Hood, 94-born Tayler Balog and a 2nd round pick in 2010 – A pick the club would use to select blue chip prospect Macoy Erkamps with the 27th overall pick in 2010.
Pilon, a 6’1” 176 pound defenseman from Warman, SK is a highly touted prospect – ranked by many as the most talented d-man in the draft. Last season, Pilon notched 45 points (27G,18A) in 20 games with the Warman Wildcats of the Centre Four Hockey League. Duke is a 5’10, 170 pound forward who tallied 64 points (28G, 36A) and 79 PIMs in 30 games with the Calgary Royals (AMBHL) this past season. The Hurricanes history of top five selections is a short one made up of only last year’s top pick Jay Merkley (3rd overall – 2010); Dwight King (4th overall – 2004) and Paul Elliot (4th overall – 1995). Pilon joins Merkley as the Hurricanes highest ever selections in the WHL Bantam Draft.
“With Pilon – we got the player we wanted – he’s a big strong kid with lots of offensive ability and he can play any area of the rink” said Hurricanes Assistant GM Brad Robson “ He’s a player that is all upside with lots of potential and we had him ranked number one on our list for defensemen.”
“Reid is another great player, a lot of fans in Lethbridge got the chance to see his performance at the Alberta Cup and got a glimpse as to why we are as excited as we are about this prospect” said Robson “He’s a player with tremendous offensive upside, a skilled forward with good hands he has the ability to go end to end and help your power play. With a player like him and forwards like Jay Merkley and Craig Leverton it gives you a great one two punch on your power play.”
The Canes continued their momentous draft day as they selected four picks in the top 29 players with the 3rd, 5th, 25th and 29th selections. With the 3rd pick of the second round (25th overall) the Canes were proud to select forward Kolten Olynek. The Saskatoon product weighs in at 5’7” 160 pounds and is a skilled forward who scored an amazing 133 points (75G,58A) with the Saskatoon Outlaws of the Greater Saskatoon Hockey League. The Canes then beefed up as they drafted Carter Amson from Martensville, SK; a 6’0” 170 pound power forward with the 7th pick in the second round (29th overall). Amson totaled 35 points (21G,14A) and 70 PIMs in 23 games with the Martensville Marauders of the Greater Saskatoon Hockey League.
“Olynek is very skilled, he has outstanding speed and skating to go with some really good hands.” said Saskatchewan Area Scout Todd Hassen “He’s a smaller guy and he works hard, is a good two way player and has a lot of offensive upside and ability”
“Amson’s a big player - he plays physical and he’s not afraid to muck it up in the corners.” said Saskatchewan Area Scout Brock Jackson “He’s a prototypical power forward – wins battles down low, good in traffic and scores tough goals – not afraid to take it to the net”
The 29th overall pick was the pick acquired from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for defenseman Brennan Yadlowski. The four picks in the first two rounds comes just a season after the 2010 draft which saw the team select several highly touted prospects with four of the top 41 picks. Some of the more notable Hurricanes second round selections prior to last season include: Reid Jackson (28th overall- 2008); Austin Fyten (27th overall – 2006) and former Hurricanes Captains Ben Wright (25th overall – 2004) and Jason Hegberg (23rd overall – 1994)
In the third round the Canes selected 5’11” 170 pound defenseman Bryton Sayers of the Prince Albert Pirates who had 25 points (12G,13A) with 54 PIMs in 24 games.
“Sayers is a solid defenseman” said Robson “He has good size and quickness – strong, likes to carry the puck up the ice – he’s got good vision and hockey sense”
Finally after a short break - the Canes made their sixth selection of the draft with a fifth round selection (101st overall) selecting forward Tyler Wong. Wong was second in the Alberta Bantam (AMBHL) scoring race with an impressive 101 points (49G,52A).
“We are ecstatic to draft Tyler at the position we were in” said Alberta Area Scout Blake Robson “He’s a natural goal scorer, good on the power play and after speaking with his coaches we knew if we managed to have the opportunity to draft him at that position we couldn’t let him pass.”
The Canes then selected Wong’s Airdrie teammate Roman Melzer in the sixth round 114th overall. Melzer is a 6’0” 160 pound mobile d-man who finished the season with 11 points (1G,10A) in 33 games.
“He’s a smooth skating defenseman with good vision” says Alberta Area Scout Gerry Klinkhammer “He moves the puck well and is an intelligent defenseman”
Lethbridge then had another short break before making a pair of eighth round picks 168th and 183rd overall (from Spokane). With their first pick of the round the Canes selected hometown product Jonny Hogue. Hogue has history with the club as a former Hurricanes stick boy and backstopped the Lethbridge Val Matteotti Golden Hawks this past season where he posted an .894 save percentage with a 3.93 GAA. Hogue played the second most minutes in the AMBHL with 1405.
“Jonny [Hogue] was one of our top rated goaltenders at the Alberta Cup” says Hurricanes Assistant Coach Chris Chisamore “He’s an outstanding puck handler, real quick and very competitive - mentally he’s strong with a good fundamental base”
Finally the Canes would round out the eight round by selecting their third former member of the Airdrie X-Treme of the day - Colby Chartier with their second pick of the eighth round (173rd overall from Spokane). This pick was acquired from the Spokane Chiefs last season in exchange for Michael Tadjdeh. Chartier, a forward finished his season with 46 points (19G, 27A) in 31 games with 86 PIMs.
Lethbridge then concluded their day selecting Calgary forward Reid Nemeth in the ninth round – 180th overall and South Delta defenseman Phoenix Worth in the tenth round – 202nd overall. In total the Canes selected six forwards, four defensemen and 1 goaltender.
“We are very pleased and excited about all of the young talent we drafted today” said Hurricanes Head Coach and GM Rich Preston “We look forward to seeing them in Hurricanes uniforms in September. On a personal note I would like to congratulate our scouting staff led by Brad Robson on another spectacular job - Draft day is the culmination of a lot of hours spent on the road and in the rinks and they should be commended for all they have done for the organization”
The 22nd Annual WHL Bantam Draft results are posted on www.whl.ca - Click on the WHL Bantam Draft icon on the WHL homepage.
Hurricanes 2011 WHL Bantam Draft Summary of picks:
1st round (3rd overall from REG) – Ryan Pilon 6’1”, 176 lbs. Warman, SK
Bantam Club: Warman Wildcats – Centre Four Pos: D B/D: Oct.10/96
1st round (5th overall) – Reid Duke 5’10, 170 lbs. Calgary, AB
Bantam Club: Calgary Royals – AMBHL Pos: F B/D: Jan.28/96
2nd round (26th overall) – Kolten Olynek 5’7”, 150 lbs. Saskatoon, SK
Bantam Club: Saskatoon Outlaws – Saskatoon Pos: F B/D: Feb.13/96
2nd round (29th overall from EVT) – Carter Amson 6’0”, 170 lbs Martensville, SK
Bantam Club: Martensville Marauders – Saskatoon Pos: F B/D: Jan.13/96
3rd round (48th overall) – Bryton Sayers 5’11”, 170 lbs. Prince Albert, SK
Bantam Club: Prince Albert Pirates – Centre Four Pos: D B/D: Feb.11/96
4th round (70th overall) – Traded to Kootenay (Machacek)
5th round (92nd overall) – Traded to Portland (Johnston)
5th round (101st overall from VAN) – Tyler Wong 5’8”, 170 lbs. Airdrie, AB
Bantam Club: Airdrie X-Treme – AMBHL Pos: F B/D: Feb.28/96
6th round (114th overall) – Roman Melzer 6’1”, 160 lbs. Airdrie,AB
Bantam Club: Airdrie X-Treme Pos: D B/D: Feb.9/96
7th round (146th overall) – Traded to EVT (MacDermott)
8th round (158th overall) – Jonny Hogue 5’9”, 160 lbs. Lethbridge, AB
Bantam Club: Val Matteotti Golden Hawks – AMBHL Pos: G B/D: Apr.29/96
8th round (173rd overall from SPO) – Colby Chartier 5’8”, 155 Airdrie, AB
Bantam Club: Airdrie X-Treme Pos: F B/D: May 23/96
9th round (180th overall) – Reid Nemeth 5`10`, 185 lbs. Calgary, AB
Bantam Club: Calgary Royals - AMBHL Pos: F B/D: Apr.15/96
10th round (202th overall) – Phoenix Worth 5`10`, 154 lbs. South Delta, BC
Bantam Club: South Delta – BCAHA Pos: D B/D: Jun 26/96
(Summary courtesy of Ryan Ohashi, Hurricanes Manager of Communications & Events)