Once again TPS will be bringing you an in depth WHL bantam draft preview leading up to the May 5th event. We've polled WHL scouts and compiled a list. Our first one revolves around blueliners. Who are the blue chippers and who are on the bubble? Read on to find out.
10 Lucas Mercer (Burnaby Winter Club) 6’3” 177lbs
A very big piece of BWC’s Western Canadian Championship puzzle, Lucas brings a rare combination of size and skill to this year’s draft class. A consistent rate of development gives scouts reason that the sky may be the limited for the BC blue liner.
9. Sam Ruopp (Balgonie Prairie Storm) 5’ 10” 150lbs
One of Saskatchewan’s top defenders this season, "....Sam brings a complete game that shows lots of room for growth." Many scouts see positive comparisons between him and his brother at the same age (Harrison Ruopp-PA Raiders).
8. Zach Paterson (South Side Athletic Club) 5’ 10” 160lbs
Possibly the best skating defenceman in this year’s draft. Zach was a member of the provincial champion team that dominated throughout Alberta all year long. He should be able to run a WHL power play someday.
7. Jordan Harris (Prince Albert Pirates) 6’1” 172lbs
Another top defenceman that was part of a championship team. Jordan led his Pirate team to an almost perfect season that saw his team only lose two hockey games. But could disappointing outing at the Western Canadian Championships may see his stock slip?
6. Joe Hicketts (Kamloops Bantam Blazers) 5’6” 165lbs
The most exciting dman in this year’s draft, Joe’s combination of skill, energy and work ethic make him a true fan favourite. Will his size be the only thing that could keep him out of the top 10?
5. Aaron Irving (South South Athletic Club) 6’ 168lbs
A strong second half of the season has really vaulted Aaron in most scouts’ rankings. A physical game makes him very hard to play against. "....Aaron can also run a power play and is an effective penalty killer."
4. Austin Douglas (Winnipeg Warriors) 6’5” 196lbs
A 6’5” frame makes him very hard for scouts to over look, Austin showed tremendous improvement all season long. Some improvement is still required to be an everyday WHL defenceman but Austin is well on his way.
3. Ryan Pilon (Warman Wildcats) 6’1” 175lbs
The top defenceman for most of the season until injury and fatigue really hurt his stock. Ryan can play a skill game or can be one of the top shut down guys in this year’s draft. ".....No one shoots the puck better than this kid."
2. Jordan Thomson (South West Cougars) 5’ 11” 168lbs
One of very few bantams that was capable of playing AAA Midget as a bantam this year. Jordan brings a complete game that really showed well at last month’s director’s cup in Winnipeg. "....A very versatile player that also saw time at forward this year"
1.Brycen Martin (Calgary Bisons) 6’1” 168lbs
A big frame and elite skating truly separates Brycen from the rest of his defending brethren. "...Brycen is the best PP dman in this draft hands down..". His exceptional vision and passing skills will make his future WHL coaches very happy.
“On the Bubble” Hayden Fleury (ND Hounds), Zack Gonek (St Albert Sabres), Bryton Sayers (Prince Albert Pirates), Shawn Donsanjh (Seafair Islanders), Reid Zalitach (Winnipeg Sharks)