The Kootenay Ice opted to select defencemen with their first two picks at the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, but that doesn’t mean they missed out on an impact forward.
After taking the consensus top blueliner in Carson Lambos with the second overall pick and then Karter Prosofsky in the second round, with an additional pick in the second round via a trade with Lethbridge, the Ice turned the 29th overall selection into Skyler Bruce, an explosive right winger out of Rink Academy in Winnipeg.
2nd Rd ICE draft picks Skyler Bruce and Karter Prosofsky taking centre stage this year as stars of the game when their teams went head to head. It Will be nice to see them both wearing the same jersey soon…..😏 pic.twitter.com/mT89cKFYAI
— Kootenay ICE (@WHLKootenayICE) May 11, 2018
A teammate of Lambos’ and a fellow Winnipegger, Bruce had 21 goals and 19 assists in 30 games last season. The 15-year-old said that being drafted into the WHL earlier this month was a huge step in his young career.
“It was just an amazing feeling,” Bruce told the Townsman. “[I’ve been] working hard the whole year, working hard my whole life just to get to this point.”
Learning to skate at around four or five years old, Bruce took to the game naturally and has seldom been off the ice since then. Always inclined towards the offensive side of hockey, his only ever position change has been slight.
“When I was younger, I used to play center, but then my coach moved me to right wing and I’ve just played there [ever since],” he said. “I just love right wing and scoring goals is my favourite thing to do.
“I would describe myself as an offensive threat. I like to use my agility and my shiftiness to my advantage.”
Bruce also said that he has a penchant to get to the “dirty areas” and models his game after Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau. At 5’8”, the young forward is almost already as tall as his idol but is looking to get stronger over the summer to be ready for his first WHL training camp.
“[Playing at Rink Academy] has helped me as an athlete and as a player, getting that extra work in and just trying to make myself better every day,” he said of his development. “Over the summer I’m going to work on getting stronger and just working to elevate my game.”
In addition to being excited by the Ice’s fan base and their young prospects, talented players and experienced coaches, Bruce is thrilled by the prospect of possibly playing with his long time friend Lambos in the future.
“Carson and I go way back and it’s just super special,” he said. “I was really happy to play with him this year and I’m super excited to maybe play with him later. That just makes me feel a lot better.”
While 2018 draft picks are only eligible to play up to five games in the WHL next year, Bruce will attend training camp in the fall with a strong chance to become a key player for the club in the coming years.
Camp is expected to begin in late August with the 2018-19 season kicking off in September. Bruce was one of nine players that were drafted by the organization on May 3, a group that included four forwards, four defencemen and a goalie.