We have reached the midway point of the season with the Winter break finishing just a few days ago for the WHL and Bantam action getting back into the swing of things. There is a lot that can change from today to early May with the WHL draft and things likely will change… a lot. As of right now this is what my mock draft would look like. There are some interesting things about this year’s draft that I haven’t seen since I started scouting Bantams. First off Brandon has three first round picks, all in the top 15, and they don’t seem in a position right now to do anything but… possibly acquire another one at the trade deadline. Prince George has two picks in the top five right now, something that the franchise needs as they will likely be hoping to turn the corner after this season and start to really compete in the West. An exceptional status player might be a real this out West with Matthew Savoie being the best candidate for the accolade that Western Canada has seen. Saskatoon holding the second overall spot, after looking like a team that will compete with Prince Albert in playoffs, it is interesting to see that they will continue to add after this year. To kind of tie it all together, this year is very interesting, because not only is the placement of teams on this mock draft interesting but also the placement of players. A lot of player can go either mid first or potentially mid second right now, still lots of hockey to play but that’s where it is right now. The order was put in place on December 28th, so there has been some changes but its still very relevant.
- Prince George Cougars (via Swift Current Broncos): Matthew Savoie (NAX Midget Prep/CSSHL)
Likely to become to first WHL prospect to be granted exceptional status and enter the league as a 15 year old next season, Savoie would provide an immediate boost to the Prince George Cougars forward group and likely fit into the team’s top six as early as next season. The Cougars has longed for a player that can energize their city and fill the seats, and I’m not sure you will find a player who can provide immediate optimism to fan’s like Savoie would. Moving forward with a possible duo of Craig Armstrong and Matthew Savoie, who can form chemistry over the next few seasons. Inserting both Armstrong and Savoie would turn that young skilled team to a fast hard to defend team that can do damage to almost any defensive pairing in the league.
Scouting Report: A game breaking center that not only plays at a high level but thinks the game at a high level as well. What he lacks in size he makes up for with tremendous strength and constant work ethic. Rarely losing one on one battles against opponents, bigger or smaller, as he’s strong on his feet and tenacious. Exceptional hockey IQ with his ability to sense both offensive/defensive chances and executes on them with precision and timing. Terrific speed both with and without the puck. Multi-faceted offensive game in which he has the vision to create offensive chances at a high rate and the shot release to finish. Savoie has the potential to be the biggest thing the WHL has seen in a long time.
- Saskatoon Blades (via Regina Pats): Koehn Ziemmer (OHA Edmonton/CSSHL)
Everyone has an opinion on who could go after Matthew Savoie, but in this mock draft the Saskatoon Blades are the ones making that choice. Selecting Colton Dach last year from OHA Edmonton with there first round pick, a lanky offensive winger who is smart away from the puck. In my opinion if they are in this position today they would take OHA Edmonton forward Koehn Ziemmer. With their current forward group likely being gone by the time Ziemmer enters the WHL, the Blades will be looking to retool there offensive group with a new offensive stud and will be getting a highly productive forward with prominent scoring abilities if they take Ziemmer. The potential of a core forward grouping that consists of Kyle Crnkovic/Colton Dach/Koehn Ziemmer is something Blades fans should be excited for. Ziemmer also has an extremely late birthday. My best bet for who is the second player to go in the WHL Draft.
Scouting Report: A prolific scoring forward, Ziemmer’s offensive dominance has been on fully display this year. Dangerous with the puck on his stick, loves to control the pace of the game and is tough to contain with his agile edgework. Ziemmer has a quick release on what is likely the best shot in the draft, in my opinion, and is able to fluidly get it off in tight situations. His scoring touch and control of the game along with his tall slight physique draws comparisons to Stelios Mattheos in my opinion.
- Kootenay Ice: Tyson Zimmer (OHA Penticton/CSSHL)
Kootenay has been shifted its focus to Manitoba born players for the past year now and Tyson Zimmer is our top ranked player out of the province. Despite playing in BC this season, Zimmer played previously with the Parkland Rangers of the Winnipeg Bantam AAA league. Zimmer will provide a reliable two-way presence to a prospect pool that consists of a lot of offensive talent up front. Zimmer also has the capability to score when he wants to, certainly against his own age and he is likely a player who won’t have much issue stepping into the WHL at 16 and adapting, with his hockey IQ + physical development.
Scouting Report: A physically developed center that has brilliant hockey sense. Proactive with his body and stick positioning, making himself a target for passes in all three zones and putting himself in a position to succeed. Heavy release on a powerful shot, Zimmer efficiency with controlled zone entries is one of the big reason he’s high on our radar. Strong on his feet and tough to knock off the puck. Exploits soft areas without the puck. Has the potential offensively to be like Brett Leason, may not produce as a 16 year old but certainly will once he’s 18-19.
- Prince George Cougars: Keaton Dowhaniuk (OHA Edmonton/CSSHL)
With two picks in the top five, the Cougars are likely going to be selecting one forward and one defenseman, unless they are able to capitalize on two forwards high on there radar. Keaton Dowhaniuk might be the second best player in this draft, a player who is sure to play to the WHL and make an immediate impact as a 16 year old. Dowhaniuk will provide much needed offense off the blue line for the Cougars and won’t have any issues displaying his complete all around game as the Cougar’s need a defenseman with his versatility right now. The Cougars would be ecstatic to leave the draft Matthew Savoie and Keaton Dowhaniuk.
Scouting Report: DraftGeek’s top ranked defenseman right now, Dowhaniuk is a mature two-way defender that plays in all-situations. His versatile skating abilities allow him to rapidly get involved in the rush when he wants to and recover quickly defensively. Loves to walk to blue line and has a quick release that can fool net minders timing. Defensively Dowhaniuk plays similar to Graham Sward last year, a suffocating pressure defender who imposes himself physically. All in all, Dowhaniuk has the potential to be a Dennis Cholowski like presence.
- Seattle Thunderbirds: Mats Lindgren (BWC Academy/CSSHL)
The Thunderbird’s prospect group have an influx of forward prospects that will likely enter the WHL as 16 or 17 year olds, but not so much on the back end. Mats Lindgren would be a perfect fit for the T-Birds, adding a potential number one defender that can play heavy minutes. Lindgren’s father played in Vancouver and Seattle is just over the border. For me, it’s a no brainer to take the Burnaby defender in this spot.
Scouting Report: An enthusiastic two-way defender, Lindgren currently logs more minutes than likely any other defender in Western Canada Bantam’s. The best skating defenseman in the draft, Lindgren’s fluid four-way mobility makes him to be tough to contain when transporting the puck and allows him to quickly jump in the rush. Good mobility and an enthusiastic attitude. Manages the game very well from the back end and really relies on his skating to make plays defensively. Low risk, high reward selection that could pan out to be a highly productive presence on a team’s backend.
- Kamloops Blazers: Denton Mateychuk (Eastman Selects/WBAAA)
With new management in place, I believe Kamloops goes from a team that previously would focus its draft mostly out of British Columbia to a team that is optimistic in recruiting players Western Canada wide. The Blazer’s defensive prospect pool is much dryer than their talented group up front, with there top defensive prospect being Logan Bairos out of Saskatoon. Mateychuk is our third highest ranked defenseman in the draft. Talented offensively, something that the Blazers don’t have on there defensive group right now. Bardsley comes from the Portland Winterhawks which has drafted not only a player out of Winnipeg but also a club hockey player in the first round of the previous two years.
Scouting Report: An offensively gifted defenseman who sees the ice very well. Makes precise outlet passes and has an efficient transitional game. Light on his feet and active in joining the rush, doing so with heads up awareness and quickness to get up the ice. Steady defensively, controls the gap very well and has the mobility to defend skilled players off the rush. A competitive and engaged mindset towards the game. Overall a balanced defender with puck moving upside similar to a Calen Addison.
- Brandon Wheat Kings (via Victoria Royals): Brandon Lisowsky (BWC Academy/CSSHL)
The Wheat Kings go with ‘Best Player Available’ here by my list. While it’s rare for the Wheat Kings to select out of BC with their first pick but Lisowsky sounds committed to the WHL and if you can get him at the seventh pick I don’t see why you don’t select him. The Wheat Kings have three picks in the first round this year and as of right now it looks like they will keep all of them going into the draft. The Wheat Kings have a young forward group that could include the likes of Ridly Greig, Jake Chiasson, Nolan Ritchie, Dylan James, Brett Hyland, Bode Hagan and Owen Weihs the addition of a puck possessive scorer like Lisowsky would be a different style of player that could help that group going forward.
Scouting Report: The most dynamic scorer in the draft, Lisowsky is a shooting forward with great attention to detail when he has the puck. His intense speed, puck control, and east-west game constantly drags defenders out of position, opening the ice up for team mates. Has a heavy release on powerful shot. Slowly developing his playmaking and vision this year, utilizing his team mates more often and manage the puck better. Plays a WHL style of game and will likely have success wherever he goes.
- Calgary Hitmen: Reiger Lorenz (Edge Academy/CSSHL)
Calgary have always gone big with their first pick in the past. Selecting players with the height of 5’11, 6’2, and 6’5 with there last three first round picks. They have also adhered to drafting from either BC or Alberta with those picks as well. Selecting Lorenz in this spot would follow that trend. Reiger Lorenz has been a rapidly developing prospects whose a bit under the radar this season, or at least in terms of a first round prospect. Lorenz adds speed and hockey intelligence to the Hitmen’s line up, and would complement Sean Tschigerl very well as Tschigerl would open up space for Lorenz to do his work in the offensive zone. Other selection I debated between was Conor Geekie but with his brother not coming to the WHL when the Hitmen selected him a few years ago, I’d feel the Hitmen would feel most comfortable taking a player from there own city.
Scouting Report: Lorenz is a powerful skating offensive forward. His speed and constant agility make him hard to manage with and without the puck. He’s got excellent awareness without possession, locating soft spots to exploit and always being in good position in the offensive zone. A sneaky player with good anticipation to slip into a scoring area. Slick puck handling abilities to create space for himself with the puck, does an excellent job being productive with his puck touches. Overall, Lorenz is a balanced and competitive five tool forward who is smart, skilled, strong, big, and physical.
- Kelowna Rockets: Connor Levis (St. George’s Academy/CSSHL)
Kelowna always selects ‘best player available’ and on my list it is Connor Levis of St. George’s. Despite being verbally committed to the University of Denver, Kelowna is confident they could get Levis to commit to the Rockets. They took Trevor Wong last year who was committed to Denver as well when drafted and also played on a line with Levis last year, getting him to commit early this season to the Rockets. Reuniting the two would be a strong duo going forward. Kelowna is hosting the Memorial Cup in 2020 and could look to move this pick for immediate help.
Scouting Report: A balanced centerman who has tremendous offensive tools. Straight line speed and acceleration allowing him to efficiently carry the puck end to end with deft movement. Good skill and strong on the puck, allowing him to maintain/control possession under pressure. He has a deceptive release in motion, and vision at top speed, making him hard to predict. Overall, a potential game breaking prospect with the complete offensive package. Plays a similar game to Nolan Patrick.
- Brandon Wheat Kings: Conor Geekie (Yellowhead Chiefs/WBAAA)
After taking Brandon Lisowsky with there first choice in draft, the Brandon Wheat Kings go back to there roots and take Manitoba born player Conor Geekie. Geekie currently plays for the Yellowhead Chiefs which is quite close to Brandon and has earned top ten potential from everyone I have talked to. I’d suspect if Brandon keeps all three of there picks in the first round they take atleast two forwards, Geekie being the second one so far.
Scouting Report: A big heavy scoring winger that has very good puck skills and skating abilities for his size. Make purposeful decisions with the puck, everything he does has good reasoning behind it. Plays with a competitiveness and is aggressive in pursuit of the puck on the forecheck. Excellent puck protection abilities and the speed to create space off the rush. A great shot that goalies his age struggle with. Similar tools and offensive capabilities to his brother Morgan Geekie.
- Calgary Hitmen (via Tri-City Americans): Jason Spizawka (Yale Lions/CSSHL)
After taking a forward with their first of two picks in the first round. The Calgary Hitmen go with a defenseman here, something they have had success in developing in the past. The two best defenseman available here by my list are Grayden Siepmann and Jason Spizawka. With Spizawka having an outstanding showing at the recent NWCAA Flames tournament and being slightly bigger than Siepmann, I gave the edge to him here in this spot. Calgary’s top defensive prospect right now is Tyson Galloway from Kamloops. Spizawka provides stability and a good first pass to the Hitmen’s future defensive core.
Scouting Report: A structured two-way defender that plays a steady stay at home game for the Yale Lions. Spizawka executes very well in transition hitting his target with precision and power. Relying on gifted athleticism and mobility defensively, Spizawka is has no issues stopping the rush and wins most one on one puck battles. Makes simplistic plays to relieve pressure out of his defensive zone. His attention to detail in his own zone is high end. Overall a reliable defender that’s conservative and proactive, my comparison is Ethan Cap.
- Medicine Hat Tigers: Bowden Singleton (NAX Academy/CSSHL)
Drafting Cole Sillinger last year, the Medicine Hat stick with skilled offensive talent and add Bowden Singleton of NAX at this position. Singleton, much like Sillinger, has uncanny skill with the puck and a scoring touch. I like this selection a lot for the Tiger’s, they have always drafted scoring with the forwards they take in the first round and Singleton does it better than anyone else. The potential of Sillinger and Singleton leading the Tigers top two lines in the future, this may be the best one – two of any team in the Central division in a couple years.
Scouting Report: An uber skilled offensive pivot, Singleton plays with a tonne confidence and flare. Intuitive instincts away without the puck, explosive first step when recognizing an opportunity to receive in transition. Goal scorers mentality. Loves to aim high with his shots. Tremendous one on one skill. Possesses quick hands and a quick controlled release allowing him to change the angle of his shot and changes the timing of his shot. At his best when he keeps his shooting simple. Overall a creative offensive threat that has the potential to be a game breaking offensive player at the WHL.
- Brandon Wheat Kings (via Moose Jaw Warriors): Grayden Siepmann (Yale Lions/CSSHL)
Selecting two forward already in the first round, the Brandon Wheat Kings likely choose to select a defenseman with this pick. With Dowhaniuk, Lindgren, Mateychuk, and Spizawka already gone Siepmann is the best defender available for the Wheat Kings at this choice. As said in the Lisowsky write up, it is rare for Brandon to draft out of BC in the first round but I feel they would be comfortable with selecting a WHL committed player like Siepmann. Brandon already has young core group of defenders like Jack Zayat, Vincent Iorio, Jacob Hoffrogge, Neithan Salame, and potentially Anthony Kehrer in their system right now. Adding another high level player to there back end would be most benefitial in this spot.
Scouting Report: Siepmann is a fleet footed puck moving defender. Slight and scrawny in physique at this point but has lots of room to fill out into. Good mobility in all three zones. Plays a with flexibily and a cerebral nature. See’s the ice very well and makes poised plays under pressure. Relies on smart angles and composure in his defensive zone. Always recognizes where the puck is and where the puck is going to be, which is an example of his high level hockey sense. Comparable to a Max Martin.
- Edmonton Oil Kings: Jordan Gustafson (Fort Saskatchewan Rangers/AMBHL)
Born in the Edmonton area and developed in the Edmonton area, the Oil Kings stick with there own jurisdiction with this pick. Edmonton have had success in the past with selecting out of Northern Alberta. Gustafson is my highest ranked player in the AMBHL North and has 36 points in 20 games this season with the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers. The Oil Kings would benefit most with a player like Gustafson, someone whose sure to play in the WHL and develop into a versatile two-way winger. A team that has focused on drafting speed in the past couple of years, get one of the fastest players in the draft.
Scouting Report: A winger with size, finesse and strength to his game, Gustafson fits the mould of a modern day complete forward. He has elite skating tools, displaying fluid movement and balance on his blades. An excellent transitional forward who can switch from offense to defense quick enough to catch other players off guard. Seen quarterbacking his team’s power play thanks to his vision from high in the offensive zone, lightning quick hands, and mobility. Engaged and competitive attitude with and without the puck. All the offensive tool’s to be a highly productive player but needs to put it all together consistently.
- Regina Pats (via Lethbridge Hurricanes): Nolan Flamand (Saskatoon Blazers/SMHL)
The Saskatchewan capital takes the best player out of Saskatchewan with their first pick in the 2019 WHL Draft. Regina is coming off of a Memorial Cup hosting season and have a fairly dry prospect group right now, likely taking a few years to recover from after going all in last season respectively. Selecting Nolan Flamand with their first pick is a good start to the team’s rebuild, Flamand could be around until he’s 19-20 and be a leader to the offensive group of the Pat’s going forward. Regina doesn’t have a history of taking Saskatchewan born players, but I feel Flamand is the best fit right now for them in this position.
Scouting Report: A highly skilled and intelligent center, Flamand relies on his instincts with and without the puck to create offensive chances. Makes good shots selections with a release that he likes to change the angle of and use defenders as screens. Average skater whose got good balance and edgework, able to handle physical play from bigger opposition. Plays a 200ft game and is responsible in all three zones. Biggest asset is his hockey IQ, which is top ten in this draft class. Comparable to Glenn Gawdin.
- Spokane Chiefs: Tanner Scott (OHA Edmonton/CSSHL)
The Spokane Chiefs selected Graham Sward with the 17th overall pick in the draft last year, just one pick after this selection would be made. Already having core young offensive group of forwards like Jack Finley, Owen MacNeil, Erik Atchison, Adam Beckman, and Luke Toporowski. Adding Tanner Scott, a two-way center, would be a good touch to that group. Scott can provide stability down the middle for years to come. I think Spokane has the potential to compete for a championship every year out West, I’d focus adding a player who can excel in any role given to him, like Tanner Scott.
Scouting Report: A hard working two-way center, Scott plays responsible on both sides of the puck. Constantly moving his feet and attacks with precise lateral movements making him a productive influence on his team’s transitional play. Supports defenders in puck battles along the wall, and stays engaged in the defensive zone. Attacks with patience and relies on his vision to create offensive with the puck. Rarely forces his attack, instead slowing down the pace and allowing option to open up for him. His confidence to distribute that puck through traffic has improved this year, looking more comfortable making passes into tough spots and adding creativity to his game. Comparable to Davis Koch.
- Portland Winterhawks: Nate Danielson (Red Deer Rebels/AMBHL)
A team that has always been comfortable with drafting natural talent and skill and a player that Mike Johnson would love to have on his team, Danielson has a lot of translatable WHL tool’s and likely translating into a 200ft player at the next level. Danielson would provide stability down the middle for the Winterhawks, likely moulding into a middle six center. Danielson would benefit greatly with Portland as they would help develop his confidence with the puck and offensive game.
Scouting Report: A dynamic two-way center, Danielson awareness and responsibility to the defensive side of the game is rare to see at this age. A dynamic and explosive skater that allows him to get up and down the ice quickly. Does a good job supporting his defenders in his own zone and getting back up ice to be involved in the rush. Puck possessive game, if his team doesn’t have the puck he goes and gets it. Offensively Danielson is a pass first perimeter player who utilizes his speed and vision to generate offensive chances. Efficient with the puck, doesn’t force pass. Overall a hard working two-way center that plays the game the way it should be played. Comparable to Mark Kastelic.
- Kootenay Ice (via Red Deer Rebels): Ethan Buenaventura (RHA Nationals/CSSHL)
Sticking with the focus of Manitoba born kids, the Kootenay Ice select top goalkeeper Ethan Buenaventura with their second selection of the first round. The Ice have several young netminding prospects that they have draft in previous years, Gage Alexander being the most promising one it seems right now but adding a potential bonafide number one in Buenaventura would be a huge upgrade on what they have right now. Buenvaentura joins a team that he can step into early and get starts.
Scouting Report: A high quality netminder with naturally gifted size and athleticism. Brilliant skater for a goalie his size. Composed in his crease allowing him to track the puck at a high level and rely on his movements to do the work. Has the ability to make second, third, fourth stops. Potential to be a high end goal keeper in the WHL.
- Victoria Royals (via Saskatoon Blades): Hayden Smith (Yale Lions/CSSHL)
Victoria has had a past of selecting quality players out of Northern Alberta and out of the CSSHL. Hayden Smith fits both those intangibles qualities and has had a great season with the Yale Lions this season, thus far. Smith loves to have the puck on his stick, something that the Royals don’t have in their talented young prospect pools right now. Currently playing in BC, Smith should have no issues doing an extra trip out to Victoria to be a Royal. Listed hometown is Kamloops but played for Grande Peace last season.
Scouting Report: A shifty and crafty offensive forward, Smith is hard to contain when he has the puck on his stick. Provides constant support around the puck, getting involved in puck battles in the offensive zone. Good pace to his game and processes the game at a high end level. Goes hard to the net with good stick positioning. Patience with the puck, likes to adjust his timing off the rush to allow more team mates to get involved. Slippery in traffic. Overall an offensive minded winger that is hard to read with the puck and has excellent anticipation to produce without the puck. Similar to Nick Henry, plays with a bit more poise and a bit less intensity but similar in there offensive approaches.
- Swift Current Broncos (via Vancouver Giants): Brayden Schuurman (Yale Lions/CSSHL)
A team that is in store for a long next few years, beginning what is expected to be a lengthy and hopeful rebuild after there WHL championship winning season last year. With a whole new front office in place, it’s hard to predict where the management group likes to select. In my opinion, the team needs not only a talented center but a leader who can play until he’s a 20. Brayden Schuurman fits that mould perfectly. A hard working, lead by example forward who is committed to the WHL.
Scouting Report: A sparkplug forward who plays with a lead by example mentality. Puck possessive, loves to have the puck on his stick and be the catalyst for creating offensive chances for his team. Always has his head up with the puck, a pass first mentality and cerebral vision off the rush. Work ethic in all three zone and willingness to block shots. Versatility as he has the defensive awareness and positioning to play on the penalty kill. In general, an undersized hard working forward who tries to be a difference maker every time he steps on the ice.
- Kamloops Blazers (via Everett Silvertips): Connor Gourley (Calgary Bisons/AMBHL)
Selecting an offensive defenseman in Denton Mateychuk with the sixth overall pick, the Kamloops Blazers shift their focus to the wing in selecting Connor Gourley. The Blazers in the past have leaned towards drafting centers over wingers in the first round but with Matt Bardsley taking the reign’s in Kamloops after spending several years with the Portland Winterhawks, I feel he would be willing to take a player with WHL qualities in Connor Gourley. Looking at past drafts of the Winterhawks they have liked forwards with speed to burn and scoring abilities off the rush, like Gourley. Right now Kamloops has a lot of pace upfront and drafting Gourley to fill the wing and Mateychuk who likes to activate in the rush, the Blazers get a lot faster and skilled going forward after the 2019 WHL Draft.
Scouting Report: A heavy winger that plays with grit and possesses electrifying acceleration with the puck. Loves to utilize an attack from the outside, often beating defenders with separating and utilizing his WHL calibre shot in stride. Processes the game well offensive and defensively, awareness to pick up on developing plays and make a move on them. Primarily a scorer, Gourley can also create offensive chances with his vision below the goal line and confidence to execute passes through complicated lanes. Strong along the wall. All in all, a scoring power forward with lots of physically develop tools.
- Prince Albert Raiders: Brayden Boehm (Delta Green/CSSHL)
The last selection of the first round, Prince Albert take Delta Green forwards Brayden Boehm. Boehm by my list is the ‘Best Player Available’ in this position. Right now Prince Albert is the number one ranked team in the CHL and have many options come trade deadline to move this pick, but as of right this moment when this mock draft came out… they hold it. I enjoy Boehm in this spot because Prince Albert has a very talent group of forwards coming up who will be competing for roster spots, they have had wonderful drafting in the past few years and that shows with their current lineup. Boehm shouldn’t have any issues thriving in a role given to him, which will separate him from those players he is competing against. Expected to play as a 16 year old, he has a tonne of potentials, and have proven to be dominant against his own age.
Scouting Report: A tenacious and versatile forward whose you can always find around the puck. A catalyst for productive puck touches, displaying excellent strength and brilliant determination with the puck. Vision at top speed to create chances on his forehand or back hand. Responsible defensively, plays a full 200ft game and involves himself in puck battles in defensive corners. What he lacks in size he makes up for with compete and hard work. Potential to be a very good two-way player in the WHL, top six capabilities.