The 2012 WHL Bantam Draft gets started on Thursday morning in Calgary. The Broncos have another very important pick this year. They drafted 2nd and 13th overall last year. This year they’re picking 5th. It’s another very important part of the rebuilding process.
After picking three defencemen in the last two first rounds and four in their last five first round picks… is it time for a forward? The Broncos aren’t even hinting that they would consider anything else at this point. Assistant GM/Head Scout Jamie Porter told me plainly on Monday: “Are we going to take an impact forward this year? Absolutely. It’s no secret.”
I think we all could have guessed that. Not only is a top of the line skilled forward the most obvious need for the Broncos, but the front end of this draft in particular appears dominated by that type of forward.
I talked to Porter, Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb and Tyler Neisz of Western Elite Hockey Prospects newsletter/blog. This should give you a pretty good base for what to expect on Thursday.
Draft Preview with Broncos AGM/Head Scout Jamie Porter (Download)
Draft Preview with Bronocs Coach/GM Mark Lamb (Download)
Draft Preview with Tyler Neisz of WEHP (Download)
So now that everyone agrees that the Bronocs will be taking a forward with that 5th overall selection… who will it be? You can check out Tyler’s newsletter for a full list of where he has the players ranked and a mock draft of where he expects them to go. It’s worth paying for if you really want an in depth look at what to expect from the first round to the final round. He also had his top 10 published in a Yahoo Sports article with the top 10 from International Scouting Service.
It’s interesting they both have Edmonton’s Giogio Estephan in 5th. Is that a sign of things to come? Neisz predicted it in his mock draft. The 4th ranked guy is Nick Merkley and it’s hard to imagine him getting past Lethbridge at 4 given how his brother plays for the Hurricanes. However, there are lots of wild cards towards the top. What players are or aren’t willing to move east when the majority of the top forwards come from BC? Will a guy like Adam Musil who is ranked 2nd by Western Elite Hockey Prospects try to stay closer to the lower mainland than going to one of the Princes? Will consensus #1 Matt Barzal go to Seattle? If anyone ranked near the top is unhappy with their possible destination it could cause a major domino effect.
When you average out the top 8 forwards (not including Musil and Jansen Harkins because I can’t find stats for them) they put up 2.86 points per game in their final years of bantam. All of these guys can score. The question for teams like the Broncos is determining which one will have the most success translating that to the WHL game and which one is the best fit for their city/team/identity.
So who do you think it will be?
On another note… there has been some confusion about what picks the Broncos do and don’t have. In talking to management, the original deal for Ryan Aasman had a 5th round pick going to Seattle, but certain conditions in the deal caused that to change to an 8th. The Levi Bews deal sends Swift Current’s 6th this year to Vancouver. At first it appeared Eric Walker was going to cost an 8th this year… but it looks like now that will be in a later year. Also the conditional pick for Erik Fleming is a 10th round pick this year. That’s what I was told on Monday. So that means the Broncos will have a 1rst, 2nd, 3rd, Kootenay’s 3rd, a 4th, 5th, no 6th, a 7th, no 8th, a 9th and no 10th. They will pick 5th in the 1rst round and 7th in all remaining rounds. The 3rd round pick they got from Kootenay in the 3rd round is 10th… 54th overall.
Want a look at Swift Current’s draft history? Click here for their previous first round picks.
What have teams picked at #5 in recent years?
- 2011 – 5. Lethbridge, Reid Duke, C, Calgary, AB
- 2010 – 5. Regina, Morgan Kilmchuk, LW, Calgary, AB
- 2009 – 5. Regina, Chandler Stephenson, C, Saskatoon, SK
- 2008 – 5. Prince Albert, Mark McNeill, C, Edmonton, AB
- 2007 – 5. Portland, Brad Ross, LW, Lethbridge, AB
- 2006 – 5. Kamloops, Jimmy Bubnik, C, Saskatoon, SK
- 2005 – 5. Moose Jaw, Neal Prokop, C, Winnipeg, MB
- 2004 – 5. Regina, Brett Leffler, RW, Winyard, SK
- 2003 – 5. Portland, Sasha Golin, RW, Summerland, BC
- 2002 – 5. Saskatoon, Devin Setoguchi, RW, Lethbridge, AB
It’s also worth mentioning that Swift Current resident Todd Hornung was the 5th overall pick of Portland back in 1995. Former 1rst overall NHL draft pick Chris Phillips went 5th to Prince Albert in 1993.
It will be a very interesting day. Join me for extensive coverage of the draft with information, Bronco audio reaction, drafted player audio reaction, expert reaction and more. We’ll have it for you on twitter, this blog, on swiftcurrentonline.com and of course with regular updates throughout the day on the air.
Is anyone interested in the idea of setting up a live blog for chat/reaction throughout the day? If we get some interest in the comments I’ll set something up.
On a final note… good luck to Taylor Vause. He’s the Eastern Conference nominee for WHL Humanitarian of the Year and the awards ceremony goes tomorrow. If his name gets called he would be a more than deserving winner. Either way he should be proud of the work he did to get that nomination.