Calgary, AB. — Never before have the Wheat Kings been so happy to see a win by the Saskatoon Blades.
The Blades, who finished last in the East Division basement this past season, won the Western Hockey League’s Bantam Draft Lottery this afternoon and in doing so, handed Brandon the first overall selection in the 2014 Bantam Draft. Saskatoon was one of six non-playoff teams participating and had a 19% chance of landing the first selection.
The Wheat Kings earned the pick thanks to a trade with the Blades in May 2012 that saw overage right-winger Brenden Walker go to Saskatoon.
The Lottery selection process was performed by Richa Kapil from KPMG. The 2014 WHL Bantam Draft will be held in Calgary, AB, on Thursday, May 1, 2014.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes will have the second selection, the Kamloops Blazers will select third, the Moose Jaw Warriors have the fourth selection, the Prince George Cougars will select fifth, and the Red Deer Rebels will have the sixth overall selection. The order of the second round and all other rounds will be the inverse order of final 2013-14 WHL regular-season standings.
Players eligible for the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft will be 1999-born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
This will mark the first time in history that the Wheat Kings have had the first overall pick. Prior to this year, the Wheat Kings best draft position had been second overall – in 1991, ’92 and ’93 – when Brandon opted for Colin Cloutier, Wade Redden and Darren Van Oene.
Among the long list of first overall selections in the WHL:
1995 – Chris Nielsen, Calgary Hitmen
1996 – Steve McCarthy, Edmonton Ice
1997 – Jarret Stoll, Edmonton Ice
1998 – Jay Bouwmeester, Medicine Hat Tigers
1999 – Ryan Hollweg, Medicine Hat Tigers
2000 – Braydon Coburn, Portland Winter Hawks
2001 – Kyle Chipchura, Prince Albert Raiders
2002 – Gilbert Brule, Vancouver Giants
2003 – Jonathan Toews, Tri-City Americans
2004 – Ryan Kerr, Prince George Cougars
2005 – Colten Teubert, Regina Pats
2006 – Jared Cowen, Spokane Chiefs
2007 – Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw Warriors
2008 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer Rebels
2009 – Derrick Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks
2010 – Alex Forsberg, Prince George Cougars
2011 – Jake Virtanen, Calgary Hitmen
2012 – Matthew Barzal, Seattle Thunderbirds
2013 – Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants
After a draft day deal that saw Brandon send netminder Corbin Boes to Lethbridge last season, the Wheat Kings used the fourth, sixth and 25th overall picks to select Nolan Patrick, Kale Clague and Tanner Kaspick respectively.
Following is a list of former top ten bantam picks by the Wheat Kings, since the draft was introduced in 1990:
1990 – Bobby Brown (4th)
1991 – Colin Cloutier (2nd)
1992 – Wade Redden (2nd)
1993 – Darren Van Oene (2nd)
2000 – Eric Fehr (5th)
2001 – Jeff Topilko (9th)
2006 – Brayden Schenn (9th)
2008 – Klarc Wilson (10th)
2013 – Nolan Patrick (4th) and Kale Clague (6th)
With the bantam draft order now settled, preparation will continue on the Wheat Kings opening round playoff series against the Regina Pats.
Games one and two of the best of seven Western Hockey League Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series will be played Saturday and Sunday in Regina, before the series shifts to Westman Communications Group Place for games three and four.
Brandon finished seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 34-29-6-3 while the Pats captured the Eastern Division pennant. During the 8-game season series between the two teams, Brandon won five games including back to back games this past weekend.
Tickets to both Brandon home games will go on sale at 11am Friday morning at the Keystone Centre box office, by calling 726-3555 or online at wheatkings.com
Wheat Kings season ticket holders meanwhile have until 5pm Thursday to order their playoff ticket packages. As an added bonus, if they renew both their 2014-15 season tickets – at last year’s price – and their 2014 playoff ticket package, the first two playoff games will be free!