So how do you like this defensive group now? A day after Julius Honka was drafted 14th overall in the NHL draft, the Swift Current Broncos saw both Brycen Martin and Brett Lernout drafted in the third round. This comes after Dillon Heatherington was picked in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft. That means all four players in the top four for the Broncos are first, second or third round NHL prospects. How many teams can ever claim that?
Martin and Lernout were also interestingly picked back-to-back in the draft. Montreal traded up to grab Lernout at 73 and Martin then went to Buffalo at 74. Not only are they on the same team but the two young talents also played as a defensive pair for much of the season. That makes it even more unique they were taken one after the other and by division rivals as well.
For Martin being picked in the third round was exciting and yet in talking to him also not quite what he had hoped for. There were times he was ranked as a potential first round pick and that didn’t happen. As Mark Lamb says it doesn’t matter much where you’re picked as long as you deliver once it’s your time (Cody Eakin was a third round pick and is in the NHL now), but it is also a motivator for Martin to prove he should have gone higher. As I said in talking to him he’s a “five tool” type defenceman with all the ability and physical talents any team could want. He could end up being a steal.
Meanwhile, Lernout’s selection was the result of what was a tremendous rise this year. Here is a player that wasn’t on anyone’s draft radar at the start of the season and ended up going in the top 75 to the most historic franchise in the NHL. That’s storybook. Of course he has to show last season wasn’t an aberration and that he can continue to make that level of progress. He’s big, tough and way more skilled than people realized he was. He could be exactly the type of player who comes into his own a bit later and goes on to surprise people with the professional career he could have. Again it says a lot when a team trades up to make sure they get you.
I talked to Martin, Lernout and Mark Lamb about the draft. We haven’t been able to link up with Honka yet unfortunately, but it was great to be able to talk to Martin and Lernout about what is clearly and awesome day for them. It was an awesome draft for the Broncos as they not only continue to get players drafted, but those players are getting drafted higher and higher every year. This should now be an organization you want your kid to play for based on the kinds of results we’ve been seeing with drafts and other professional opportunities.
Interview with Brett Lernout (Download)
Interview with Brycen Martin (Download)
Interview with Mark Lamb (Download)
As for the players who didn’t get picked… the draft isn’t the be all and end all. It’s exciting to know an NHL team wants to devote a spot on their protected list to you and wants to give you every opportunity to succeed. On the other hand you will get those opportunities if you show you deserve it with your play. Justin Dowling didn’t get drafted and has worked himself into a Calder Cup and a contract with the Dallas Stars. It happens all the time. Players like Colby Cave and Coda Gordon now have the chance to prove they deserve that opportunity with another great season as overage players before picking the ideal organization for them to work with after the season is done. They may also get invites to some rookie camps before that too. The door is wide open whether you’re Cave, Gordon, Landon Bow, Jay Merkley, Jordan Harris or any other player on that Broncos roster who didn’t get their name called yet. Continue playing well and developing… those opportunities will come.
Now Wednesday is another big day in the WHL off season. The Broncos pick 36th in the CHL Import Draft and I would have to think have their eye on a scoring forward. Could they mine Finland again after having overwhelming success with Laurikainen and Honka in recent years? Lamb was down at the NHL draft and has so many contacts that perhaps he could get a drafted European player here to help what should be a very good Swift Current team. It’s not a high pick though so we will see what’s left when it comes time for him to pick.
Happy Canada Day! Hope you’re enjoying it with your friends and family.