Broncos Assistant GM/Head Scout Jamie Porter (Download)
Spring is here as evidenced by the opening of our sponsors over at Elmwood Golf Club… and thanks again to them for continuing to support this blog and helping make it possible for me to maintain them. It’s a beautiful course in a great city and you really should try it if you haven’t. With spring comes the day when hopeful future stars keep their eyes on their computer to see where they will hone their craft in those all important junior years. What is in store for your favourite local team?
The Swift Current Broncos head to the WHL Bantam Draft table tomorrow with only a single pick in the first four rounds. They pick 12th in the first round, the same spot where they picked Tyler Steenbergen at this time last year, and don’t pick again until the 5th round because of some previous trades.
Is that a reason for concern? The last time the Broncos were this shallow in the early rounds was 2010 when they didn’t have picks in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. That year they nabbed star defenceman Dillon Heatherington in the first round, Zac Makay, Landon Bow and Bobby Zinkan in the fourth round, and Denis Bosc later in the draft. They also drafted Mathew Gelinas late in the draft who never played for the Broncos but has spent a season with Tri-City. What that says is you can find a handful of very useful players in a draft even if you don’t have all your early picks.
Could they make a move to get some picks in the second, third or fourth rounds? It’s possible. There have been some talks and some scenarios. However, it seems unlikely at this point they would part with their first round pick in order to get more depth in the draft. The Broncos are pretty confident they are going to get a player they like in that spot and all indications appear to be that the top end of the draft is pretty good, but the depth isn’t that strong. In that case you’re better to try to grab a cornerstone in the first round and hope you get a couple of pieces later on.
That puts even more pressure on that first round pick. They really have to get this one right in order for this draft to turn out. Recent history has been pretty strong that way for the team. They picked Heatherington in 2011, Brycen Martin and Zack Gonek in 2011 (Gonek turned into Jordan Harris), Glenn Gawdin in 2012 and Steenbergen in 2013. All of those picks have either turned out or had arrows heading in a positive direction.
What are the organization needs? They feel their prospect depth is pretty strong in all departments now and aren’t necessarily targeting any position. I could see them going with a defenceman simply because the current core is very strong but also grouped together in age. This year’s pick could be the Heatherington for the next core on the blue line. That said, the team has said as it always does that in the first round they will pick they player they project to be the best player on the board. They will also make sure to the best of their ability that it is a player committed to the WHL that would be comfortable committing to the Broncos.
If history has anything to say about it the Broncos will trend towards Alberta. Of all those first round picks I mentioned only Gawdin came from a province other than Alberta and Albertans have continued to make up a very significant portion of Swift Current’s roster up and down the lineup.
Tyler Neisz of Western Elite Hockey Prospects puts together a newsletter on bantam prospects all throughout the year. His rankings and mock draft put the Broncos in position to draft Notre Dame defenceman Dominic Schmiemann. At 6’3 as a second year bantam player he would certainly bring some size to Swift Current’s back end for years to come. Other players he has in that range include Jake Leschyshyn the son of former NHLer Curtis Leschyshyn who most recently coached with the Saskatoon Blades. The Broncos have proven they love NHL bloodlines with guys like Lowry, DeBrusk and Odgers.
Swift Current picked Cole Johnson out of Lloydminster last year and Niesz has a couple of players from there ranked near Swift Current’s range this year including defenceman Jantzen Leslie and forward Zane Franklin. Everyone talks about size so could they go with 6’2 scoring forward Josh Paterson out of Edmonton? What about going with the top goalie available and might that be Ian Scott of Calgary?
There are a lot of unsanswered questions heading into the draft tomorrow.
As far as local prospects, the only Bantam Raider that Niesz has ranked in his top 200 is Tyde Hutchinson who put up good numbers on a team that struggled this year. Mark Lamb’s son Hunter is 61rst on the rankings for the 2015 draft.
Whatever happens the draft is usually good for a surprise or two. I’m looking forward to keeping my eyes on it. Obviously working at Standard Motors now instead of full time at the radio station I’m not able to devote my day to covering the draft in the same way I have in the previous three years. I will still check in and offer some analysis and hopefully some quick audio at some point during the day. I’ll be doing my best to coordinate with our Swift Current Online news team and with the Broncos team on the draft floor tomorrow to cover the draft to the best of our ability. We will get it done it just won’t be 100% me this time around as I’ll be getting some support from our full time staff.
What do you want to see the Broncos do?