The Kootenay Ice have laid the foundation for future teams by selecting ten players in the WHL Bantam Draft on Wednesday in Calgary.
Head scout Garnet Kazuik led the way, working with general manager Jeff Chynoweth and head coach Ryan McGill to make his selections, which included two wingers, three centres, four defencemen and one goaltender.
“From a scouting perspective, we’re really happy,” said Kazuik. “We walked away very, very happy with the players that we drafted today. It’s exciting for those players today and now they get to have an exciting day and get to work and show us what they got at training camp.”
Kazuik kicked things off with Kootenay’s ninth overall selection in the first round, nabbing Jared Legien, a winger out of Pilot Butte, Sask. Legien, a 14-year-old, played for the Prairie Storm in the Saskatchewan Bantam AA League, collecting 40 goals and 26 assists in 26 games.
“Jared’s a gifted player that has the ability to score goals—shoots the puck very, very well,” said Kazuik.
“He can score, he’s got very good hockey sense, very gifted offensively in the offensive zone. As like with most kids, when they’re that young, and they have that offensive talent to them, their game is still evolving.”
Legien will step up into Midget AAA next season, where he will continue to develop, added Kazuik.
“Jared’s going to learn a lot of things this year playing Midget AAA and once he gets under the tutelage of Ryan McGill—Ryan’s going to show him a lot of things [like] defensive zone responsibilities, and being a responsible 200-foot player, so that will come.”
Vince Loschiavo, a centre out of Winnipeg, MB., was chosen in the second round, while Declan Hobbs, a goaltender in the Greater Saskatoon Hockey League, was picked up in the third round.
Kazuik had a bonanza of picks in the fifth round, including three consecutive slots in a row, which he used to take Robert Johnson, Dallas Hines and Andy Stevens.
The Ice head scout called it a day after the seventh round.
The Vancouver Giants opened the draft, using their first overall selection to pick Tyler Benson, an Edmonton native who has rewritten the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League scoring records.
In 33 games, Benson tallied 57 gals and 89 assists for 146 points.
Benson was highly touted as the player who would be taken first overall, and there wasn’t a lot of other surprises as each franchise made their picks throughout every round, said Kazuik.
“That’s the beautiful thing about the draft, is that we know there’s 22 teams, there’s 22 lists that are totally different, so no, there’s no surprises, but we’re just happy with the guys that we drew out and we were fortunate to get a lot of guys that we liked,” Kazuik said.