Since the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Alberta Junior Hockey league has had five players selected including two first round picks in back-to-back years in Cale Makar (4th overall Colorado Avalanche) and Jacob Bernard-Docker (23rd overall Ottawa Senators). Ian Mitchell (Chicago Blackhawks) Parker Foo (Chicago Blackhawks), and Austin Wong (Winnipeg Jets) are the other three players selected.
For this upcoming draft, it seems unlikely that anybody will go in the first round; however, we could see the same amount of players taken from the league go in the previous two years get matched.
It was a case of addition by subtraction for the AJHL on the NHL Central Scouting list with five players being ranked compared to the four on the previous rankings. A pair of North Division goaltenders, Carter Gylander and Matthew Davis joined Zach Okabe, Luke Bast and Quinn Olson on the rankings while Canmore Eagles forward Alex Young was left off the list.
Let’s take a look at the five players named:
Okotoks Oilers – University of Minnesota-Duluth
154th – North American Skaters
Quinn Olson has developed into one of best offensive players in the AJHL this season with the Okotoks Oilers. The elevation of his game has made him the highest ranked AJHL talent in the midterm rankings.
He’s well on pace to surpass his career high of 53 points from last season, having already matched that total 42 games this season. Olson is a dynamic playmaking forward who has found great success with his linemates Dylan Holloway (2020 NHL Draft eligible) and Austin Wong (Winnipeg Jets prospect).
Olson was initially snubbed from the CJHL Top Prospects game; however, he soon replaced Alex Swetlikoff after he signed with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. Olson took that opportunity and ran with it, scoring the game-winning goal and picking up an assist at the game. The Oilers forward is committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs for the 2020-21 season.
Brooks Bandits – University of North Dakota
158th – North American Skaters
The lone AJHL defenceman to make the rankings is Luke Bast of the Brooks Bandits. Much like Olson, Bast is well on track to smash his offensive career highs as his Bandits look to bring home another National Championship this May in Brooks.
The Red Deer native is one of, if the not the, best two-way defenceman in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
In his rookie season in Brooks, Bast was named to the All-Rookie (South) Team at the end of the year AJHL awards alongside his teammate Simon Boyko (Vermont commit). Bast is also committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2020-21 where he will play with his brother Gabe.
Grande Prairie Storm – St Cloud State University
201st – North American Skaters
Okabe is one of the most skilful playmakers in the AJHL and is surprisingly low down in the Central Scouting rankings.
Originally committed to the University of Vermont, the Okotoks native decommitted from the Catamounts and then committed with the St Cloud State University Huskies. Coming into the year, the expectations were high for the Storm forward after a stellar rookie campaign which saw him win the AJHL’s rookie of the year award.
Statically, from this year to last his numbers have not advanced much. He’s playing at a lower point per game rate than he was in 2018. Right now, Okabe has 43 points in 47 games which include 11 powerplay goals.
Aside from his numbers being down, the future St Cloud State star an unbelievable hockey player. His hands and hockey IQ are phenomenal, and he can finish with the best of them. If he does end up going in the 7th round, whoever selects him is going to get a great bargain that late in the draft.
Sherwood Park Crusaders – Colgate University
12th – North American Goaltenders
Ranked 12th amongst North American goaltenders, Carter Gylander is the highest ranked CJHL netminder in the NHL Central Scouting rankings. The 6’5”, 171 pound goalie is enduring a solid first campaign in the AJHL with the first placed in the North Division the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Gylander serves as the backup for the Crusaders playing behind ‘98 born and former WHL goaltender Matt Berlin. In 16 appearances for Sherwood Park, the Beaumont native has an 11-4-0 record with a 2.70 GAA and a 0.907 SV % along with two shutouts.
Gylander committed to the Colgate University Raiders back in November and was also selected to play in the CJHL Top Prospects game for Team West. At the Top Prospects game, he played the final 30 minutes of the game making 16 stops on 17 shots.
Spruce Grove Saints – University of Denver
30th – North American Goaltenders
Matthew Davis has hands down been the Spruce Grove Saints best player this season. Not only has he the Saints best player, but Davis is quickly becoming one of the great goaltenders in AJHL too.
The first year goaltender from the Edge Academy is top ten in many AJHL goaltending categories. In 24 games for the Saints, Davis has a 18-5-1 record along with 2.13 GAA (4th) and a 0.911 SV % (10th).
He also represented Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, Team West at the CJHL Top Prospects game and committed to the University of Denver Pioneers following in the footsteps of his teammate Jordan Biro.
Be sure to look out for these five names throughout the rest of the AJHL season, and at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.