Thursday, 5 May 2016

WHL Bantam Draft goes Thursday

  Western Hockey League teams will be re-stocking the shelves on Thursday.

  The annual Bantam Draft is taking place in Calgary, with the Brandon Whaet Kings holding the 20th overall pick in the first round.

  Note: Technically, it's the 21st pick but Portland is still forfeiting its first round selection so Brandon's selection will actually be 20th overall.

  "It's a big day.  Our staff has put in a lot of time in the rinks and on the road and in meetings, discussing players and this is the final presentation," said Wheat Kings' Director of Scouting Wade Klippenstein, "It's always an exciting time as a scout when you get to the table, go through your draft list and finally make those selections."

  Like drafts at every level, the WHL Bantam Draft is an inexact science but the Wheat Kings, like other WHL clubs, try to take into account as many different factors as they can when it comes to assessing the players available.

  "People see us in the rinks, watching the players, but maybe want they don't see is the process.  We interview close to 200 players either through a questionaire, on the phone or face-to-face.  A lot of times in the rink, you not only talk to the player but to the parent and try and gather as much information as you can," said Klippenstein, "Players have all different kings of personalities and interests and you want to make sure you're selecting players that want to play in the WHL, wants to be Brandon Wheat Kings and recognize the commitment level going forward of what it takes to be a WHL player."

  There's no doubt that talent and skills are the major factor when it comes to assessing a player, but there are also some other things that might contribute to a team like the Wheat Kings choosing similarly skilled players over each other.

  Klippenstein admits they have a penchant for prefering players who have a phone number that starts 204, but there are also some other things teams value.

  "I think different teams have certain traits (they look for).  When you're out scouting, you can watch certain players that you say he looks like a guy that would fit in nicely with Team X," said Klippenstein, "You look for the best player, you look for guys that have played a lot of important hockey games, teams from winning programs.  There seems to be a coorelation between kids that win in Bantam and Midget that find a way to win in the WHL as well so that's very important for us."

  The Wheat Kings hold all their own picks in Thursday's draft and have an extra ninth round pick from a trade with Prince George.

  They also owe the Spokane Chiefs an 11th round pick from an early season trade.

  Two of the top Manitobans eligible for today's Bantam Draft are from Westman.

  Brandon's Trent Minor is a 6-foot-0 goaltender who's expected to be a first round pick while Vista's Cole Muir is a 6-foot-2 forward who could go in the first or second rounds.

  Other top Westman players include Dylan Halliday and Tristen Robins, a pair of forwards from Brandon.

  Thursday's draft begins at 9:30 a.m. (CDT).

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