2016 HURRICANES BANTAM DRAFT REVIEW
So the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft went down earlier today and the Lethbridge Hurricanes were as active as could be expected. This year’s draft was Peter Anholt’s second as the GM and it posed a very different challenge. Pete entered today with significantly less work to do. The Hurricanes had a successful season!
There was no need to worry about blowing up the core and aggressively trying to swap players for picks (though they did make one trade of this nature). Today’s draft was…. well, it was just business as usual. Try and stock the system with the best young talent possible and attempt to find value as deep as possible.
There’s really no way to judge the success of today’s work… at least not until a few years have gone by. We can however quickly dive into the selections and what they tell us about the mindset of the manager. This draft review will very quickly look at today’s draft from a Hurricanes perspective and (hopefully) provide some answers on what’s to come.
Let’s dive right in!
The Hurricanes had a lot of picks in today’s draft! When all was said and done, the GM and scouts combined to call the names of 12 players. Positionally, the final breakdown adds up to 6 forwards, 4 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders, many of whom are large bodies. It’s clear that Anholt puts an emphasis on size, and thankfully, today was able to inject more into the system.
The two standout examples (hooray for puns) are 19th overall pick Cozens and lanky defender Kirby Proctor. As a guy who wrote the book on being lanky, I can tell you Proctor is going to fill out and stand a good chance to be a dominant force at whatever level of hockey he lands at. Here’s hoping that in the WHL with Lethbridge.
Anholt was able to get Proctor by acquiring the 52nd and 140th picks from Spokane in return for overage goaltender Jayden Sittler and the 107th selection. As great of a story as Sittler was last season, the move came as no surprise. The Hurricanes had a log jam of 19-year-olds at the end of the regular season. It’s still an issue and I suspect this is only the first of many trades to come. Sittler was arguably the most marketable overager and Spokane decided to pull the trigger.
In addition to allowing the Canes to secure Proctor, the move also gave the team the extra bullet needed to draft both Justin AND Adam Hall. That’s right! Following in the footsteps of other brother Hurricane duos (Blomquvist’s, Maxwell’s, King’s, etc), the Hall’s are now both property of the Hurricanes. Both Justin and Adam (twins) play forward for the CAC Canadians AAA.
How could fans not be intrigued about the potential of twin brothers playing on a line in the future!? Somewhere Fred Jack is mulling over if these boys could be the Hurricanes own version of the Sedins. Only time will tell, but the duo picks would likely not have been possible had Sittler not become the asset he did.
Let’s be clear. That’s what Jayden Sittler was. A great asset that should be recognized for his accomplishments. Jayden was acquired from Victoria for a 7th round pick shortly after Anholt took over as GM. Since that time, Sittler solidified his status as a legitimate WHL netminder. Anholt’s “gamble” paid off this season and again on the draft floor. Jayden will be missed.
There are no bones’ about it. He did all that was asked of him and more – but as tends to be the case – all good things eventually come to an end. In this case, the “end” is a guy who wears number 74.
The reality is that Stuart Skinner is entering his draft year and it’s time for him to be the undisputed starter. Holding onto Jayden for another season would only have created friction between the pipes and made the 20 year old situation more complicated than it already is. Moving to Spokane is a stellar opportunity for Jayden and I wish him nothing but the best! The Hurricanes and their fans have every reason to believe in Stuart Skinner and I see this trade as a win for all parties.
This was such a different draft day than we have come to anticipate here in Lethbridge. There wasn’t a sexy top five name on everyone’s tongue… and that’s a GOOD thing! With all due respect to Dylan Cozens, he won’t come into Lethbridge with the expectations placed on players like Jordy Bellerive, Reid Duke, or Ryan Pilon.
As a late 1st round pick, Cozens will be able to escape much of the (mostly unnecessary) hype that comes with certain draftees. We might see a benefit on the ice as the players taken in 2016 have less pressure than ever to bear the weight of a struggling franchise. The Hurricanes are now stable (or at least mostly stable) and don’t need to look to 14 year olds to save the franchise.
I wish I could give more insight on the players taken today, but the truth is that I haven’t seen a single one of them play even 1 minute of hockey. If you want to know more, I suggest searching their names on Elite Prospects or google for scouting reports (that what I’ll be doing). I will be waiting, like the rest of you, to get my first look at these players early in September! Until then, we will have to wait and see what other moves are made. There are moves that need making across the lineup. The transition started today with Sittler, I wonder how long we will have to wait for more.
DICK GIBSON’S THOUGHTS:
Just a few musings on the goings-on with the Hurricanes 2016 Bantam Draft.
As previously mentioned, this draft year was not top loaded with a bonafide “franchise” player and so it really put a great deal of emphasis on the scouts. For the Hurricanes scouting staff this was even more apparent due to their lowly 19th spot in the draft. (Yes but we are all happy with that!)
WHL Executive of the Year, Peter Anholt, has stressed that size needs to be addressed on this team and his scouting staff seems to have answered the call. Keep in mind that theses boys are but 14 and still have growth spurts left. So the kids who are in the 5’10” to 6’0” range should be bigger by the time the 17-18 season rolls around.
What I like about the Hurricane selections is the fact that it is a very even distribution of players by position, 6 fwds, 4 dmen, 2 goaltenders.
I am not going to go through all the selections, but there are a few notables. Dylan Cozens of the Delta Hockey Academy was their first pick. The 6’2” 159lb centre has good size, put up 19g-12a in 25 games and scored another 5 goals in 3 playoff games. Size and skill down the middle is so important to success for any club.
Nolan Jones a dman from the Moose Jaw Warriors Bantam AAA was the second choice and he has an offensive side to his game with 44pts in 28 games.
Sittler trade was next and Peter sent Jayden to Spokane along with a 5th round pick in exchange for a 3rd round and 7th round pick. Canes did not have a 3rd round pick until then. It was a forgone conclusion that Jayden would not be back as he is an overage and it is certainly obvious that this is now Stuart Skinner’s team. What can’t be lost is the huge contribution that Sittler gave to this club and to Skinner. This past season they combined to be the number one tandem in the “Dub”.
With their 4th pick, the Canes selected goaltender Josh Langford of the Dallas Stars Bantam AAA. Josh was impressive at the US camp which was attended by Brent and Rob.
Oddity of the draft, the Canes selected fwds, Justin and Adam Hall (twin brothers) in the late rounds. Last twins on a Lethbridge team? Ron & Rich Sutter who played on the Lethbridge Broncos.
Did the Hurricanes get a tip from Justin Gutierrez? With the Hurricanes last pick they selected Justin’s younger brother Skylar. Could he end up being one of those late round gems?
All in all, an interesting draft. Time will tell.
Time will be ticking for 3 of the 6 Lethbridge Hurricane overagers. Even though Andrew Nielsen is an overage, he will (likely) not be back due to the fact he has signed with Toronto and will be in the AHL. That leaves Kord Pankewicz as the lone OA dman. The other two spots will be filled by Tyler Wong and one of either Ryley Lindgren (offensive upside and penalty killer) Carter Folk (toughness and penalty killer) and Ben Duperrault (speed and hard-working). My thinking is that it will likely be Lindgren, with Anholt finding places for Carter (Regina?) and Ben.
One side note, a huge congrats to the Lethbridge Golden Hawks Bantam AAA coached by former Hurricane bench boss Micheal Dyck, as 10 players were selected in this year’s WHL draft.