Red Deer, AB. – The 2019 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft has come and gone with the Brandon Wheat Kings selecting a total of ten players, including four from Manitoba and six from Alberta.
The Wheat Kings, who entered the day with four of the first 23 picks were busy early, dealing the playing rights to Sean Comrie as well as the tenth overall selection to the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for pick number five, giving Brandon back to back picks and two “top six” picks for the first time since 2013 when they took Nolan Patrick and Kale Clague fourth and sixth overall.
With those two early first round selections, the Wheat Kings took center Nate Danielson of Red Deer and Russell’s Tyson Zimmer with the fifth and sixth overall picks.
As a member of the Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels this past season, Danielson scored 26 goals and 59 points in 29 games. Chosen Most Valuable Player in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League this past season, he also played two games for the AAA Midget Chiefs, scoring four times this past year.
“Nate sees the ice really well,” says Brandon’s Director of Scouting Darren Ritchie. “He plays with pace and we like him a lot.”
A 5’10” 173 lb Russell product, Zimmer played this past season with Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, averaging two points per game with 22 goals and 52 points in 26 games.
“This kid has a great shot and we see these two prospects as two thirds of a top line in the league,” Ritchie says when describing the former Parkland AAA Bantam Ranger.
Brandon then rounded out a busy first round by choosing center Rylan Roersma of Raymond, Alberta with the sixteenth overall selection.
The 5’11” 160 lb. center from the Lethbridge AAA Golden Hawks scored 23 goals and 44 points in 29 games during the 2018-19 campaign.
“We’re really excited to get Rylan,” says Ritchie. “This kid has speed, scores and plays a 200-foot game.”
Brandon hasn’t had three first round selections since 1992 when they drafted Wade Redden (2nd), Justin Kurtz (6th) and Joel Korenko (7th).
Following a trade in the second to move back and gain a fourth round pick, the Wheat Kings took 6′ 160 lb. Boissevain defenceman Zach Turner of the Southwest AAA Bantam Cougars 31st overall. In 36 games last season, he scored twenty goals and 28 points in 36 games.
With their two third round selections, Brandon chose 5’9” 171 lb Winnipeg right-winger Jesiah Bennett (52nd) and Owen Harris (53rd overall), a 5’9” 181 lb Wawanesa product.
Bennett scored fifteen goals and 31 points in 29 games with Rink Hockey Academy this past season while Harris scored six goals and 19 points as a member of the Southwest AAA Bantam Cougars.
In round four, Brandon opted for 5’8” 136 lb center forward Liam Watkins of Okotoks, Alberta and in the fifth the Wheat Kings drafted 6’ 170 lb. goalkeeper Nicholas Jones of Calgary (93rd), defenceman Kaiden Ellertson , a 5’11” 182 lb. defenceman from Red Deer (96th) as well as 5’8” 145 lb defenceman Cyle Clayton (106th) of Strathmore, Alberta.
In 30 games for Edge Hockey Prep this past season, Watkins scored nine goals and 19 points.
Ellertson meanwhile had eight goals and 25 points in 33 games for Red Deer, Clayton scored seven goals and 34 points in 33 games with the Okotoks AAA Bantam Oilers while Jones compiled an impressive 2.63 goals against average and a .922 save percentage with the Calgary AAA Bisons.
Following the fifth round, the Wheat Kings dealt their sixth, seventh and eighth round picks to the Rockets in exchange for Kelowna’s fifth round selection in 2020. Then they sent their two ninth round picks to Portland for a 2022 eighth round pick.
Of the ten players chosen by Brandon, five were forwards, four were defencemen and there was one goalkeeper.
“I was really happy with how things shaped up today,” says Ritchie, who went on to say “we had a plan going in and we feel really comfortable with how it turned out.”
“We’re excited about the players that we drafted and truly believe that they’ll be great additions to our club.”
Meanwhile the Winnipeg Ice used the first overall selection to take Matthew Savoie of the Northern Alberta Xtreme. The Ice then moved up in the draft to grab Strathclair’s Conor Geekie with the second overall selection.
Source: Brandon Wheat Kings Release