Thursday, 3 May 2012

Wheat Kings Trade Walker, Choose 14 in Draft

Wheat Kings' GM Kelly McCrimmon and his
scouting staff were very busy on Thursday
The 23rd Bantam Draft in Western Hockey League history turned out to be the busiest ever on the draft floor.


Not only were WHL team busy plotting for their long-term future by selecting the top prospects in Western Canada and the Northern United States, but many teams were for their short-term future as well.

There were more trades involving current WHL players on Thursday and any previous WHL Bantam Draft and I'm not 100 per cent sure that the previous 22 draft days combined would have equaled the number of current players changing teams on draft day.

The Brandon Wheat Kings got in on the act early, dealing forward Brenden Walker to the Saskatoon Blades as the second round got started.

In return, the Wheat Kings received a second round pick in this year's draft, which they used to select defenceman Tanner Browne.

They also received their own second round pick in 2013 and third round pick in 2014 back from the Blades, who had acquired them in the Darian Dziurzynski deal last October.

Brandon also received the option for swapping first round picks with the Blades in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.

"We felt that the draft picks were too good to overlook. They're really important for the future of our organization," said Brandon general manager Kelly McCrimmon on Thursday evening, "I think as it plays out, I think it'll be good value for our team."

Walker was third in team scoring during the 2011-2012 campaign, scoring 26 goals and 81 points in 68 games.

In addition to Walker, the Wheat Kings expect Mark Stone, Michael Ferland and Kevin Sundher to play professionally next season while Darian Dziurzynski and Paul Ciarelli have graduated as 20-year olds last year.

Those six players combined for 185 goals and 451 points in 2011-2012 and, when all is said and done, Alessio Bertaggia is the only one of the Wheat Kings top seven scoring forwards who is expected to return next year.

"I think it's going to challenge us offensively. We, effectively, have a changing of the guard with the offensive leaders of our team," said McCrimmon, "It's going to put a lot of responsibility on our returning players and it'll put a lot of responsibility on our returning forwards."

It's a similar situation going into 2012-2013 and is was in 2007-2008.

The Wheat Kings had an influx of young players named Brayden Schenn, Matt Calvert and Scott Glennie that allowed them to still be competitive after losing the likes of Cody Burki, Mark Derlago and Jeff Topilko from the 2006-2007 roster.

This year, the hope is that some combination Kord Pankewicz, Jayce Hawryluk, Taylor Cooper, Jack Palmer, John Quenneville, Ryley Lindgren et al will do the exact same thing.

"We think we have some players that are going to be able to take on some responsibility right off the bat," said McCrimmon, "There'll be some growing pains but they're good players and, because they're good players, they'll adjust and they'll improve and get better."

As far as the actual draft was concerned, the Wheat Kings selected a total of 14 players -- eight forwards, five defencemen and one goaltender.

Five players were from Alberta, four each from Saskatchewan and Manitoba and one from British Columbia.

"We're real happy. The draft had a lot of good players...we were fortunate we had an extra pick in the fourth round, we were fortunate to have to extra picks in the sixth round," said McCrimmon, "We think we had a really good day and we think we've put some really good players into our organization that we'll watch develop."

The grand prize was the selection of Calgary product Braylon Smyhr with the 12th overall pick in the first round.

The 5-foot-10, 145 pound left-winger finished fourth in scoring in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League with 38 goals and 69 points in 33 games with the Calgary Bisons.

"He's got incredible talent, puck-handling, vision, scoring, he's a really skilled player. He's a small players and I think a very dynamic player and a guy we think will really excite our fans and be a great player on our team in the future."

Here's a look at the rest of the Wheat Kings' picks on Thursday...

(In an effort of full disclosure, I lifted some of the statistics from Alan Caldwell's blog Small Thoughts at Large)

1st Round
12. F Braylon Shmyr (Calgary, Alberta)
5-foot-8, 145 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Calgary Bisons
33 GP 38-31-69

2nd Round
35. D Tanner Browne (Kelowna, British Columbia)
5-foot-11, 195 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Pursuit of Excellence
63 GP 22-33-55

3rd Round
50. Dakota Boutin (Moosomin, Saskatchewan)
5-foot-11, 160 pound
2011-2012 Team: Melville Millionaires
19 GP 24-24-48

4th Round
78. F Kirkland Lycar (Elma, Manitoba)
5-foot-10, 165 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Eastman Selects
11 GP 14-4-18

81. D Mark Matsuba (Spruce Grove, Alberta)
5-foot-11, 156 pounds
2011-2012 Team: St. Albert Sabres
33 GP 11-9-20

5th Round
100. Jesse Gabrielle (Moosomin, Saskatchewan)
5-foot-11, 180 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Osseo-Maple Grove Crimson (Minnesota)
Stats Unavailable

6th Round
112. D Mark Taraschuk (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
5-foot-11, 165 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Winnipeg Warriors
29 GP 6-5-11

116. F Tristan Elder (Kinistino, Saskatchewan)
6-foot-1, 158 pounds
2011-2012 Team: North East Wolfpack
22 GP 17-19-36

122. G Logan Thompson (Calgary, Alberta)
5-foot-11, 140 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Calgary Bisons
9-5-2 record, 3.23 GAA, .903 SPCT

7th Round
144. F Wade Allison (Roland, Manitoba)
5-foot-8, 140 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Pembina Valley Hawks
56 GP 45-50-95

8th Round
166. F Connor Lukan (Slave Lake, Alberta)
5-foot-9, 167 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Spruce Grove Saints
32 GP  27-16-43

9th Round

188. F Liam McLeod (La Salle, Manitoba)
5-foot-10, 170 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Pembina Valley Hawks
56 GP 32-27-59

10th Round
210. D Aaron Kellogg (Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta)
5-foot-11, 195 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Fort Saskatchewan Rangers
30 GP 13-7-20

11th Round
221. D Evan Werle (Langenburg, Saskatchewan)
5-foot-6 1/2, 147 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Notre Dame Hounds
36 GP 11-15-26

Overall, the Wheat Kings selected 14 players -- eight forwards, five defencemen and one goaltender.  The provincial breakdown was four from Manitoba, four from Saskatchewan, five from Alberta and one from British Columbia.

Other Notes:
Brother Act: Caleb Seaman, younger brother current Wheat Kings Tyrel Seaman, went in the 9th Round to Prince Albert while Dexter Kuczek, younger brother of Dylan Kuczek, went in the 11th round to Saskatoon.


WESTERN MANITOBANS (FINAL)

Only six players from Western Manitoba were chosen in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, three from Brandon.

3rd Round
53. Letbridge - F Colt Conrad (St. Alphonse, Manitoba)
5-foot-8, 155 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Pembina Valley Hawks
53 GP 79-71-150

58. Spokane - G Tyson Verheist (Brandon, Manitoba)
5-foot-11, 165 pounnds
2011-2012 Team: Brandon Wheat Kings
15-4-3 Record, 2.00 GAA

4th Round
83. Calgary - F Jordan Stallard (Brandon, Manitoba)
5-foot-9, 155 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Brandon Wheat Kings
30 GP 10-27-37

5th Round
96. Red Deer - F Meyer Nell (Boissevain, Manitoba)
5-foot-8, 155 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Boissevain Broncos (High School)
18 GP 5-2-7

109. Regina - F Rylee Zimmer (Russell, Manitoba)
5-foot-11, 160 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Notre Dame Hounds
35 GP 15-15-30

9th Round
193. Calgary - D James Shearer (Brandon, Manitoba)
5-foot-7, 170 pounds
2011-2012 Team: Brandon Wheat Kings
30 GP 9-20-29

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