With the dust now settled, we look at last week’s WHL Bantam Draft and identify some of the best value picks. These players waited and waited for their names to be called, but they weren’t called until later in the afternoon. Some weren’t picked at all. These are some of the picks that could prove to be great down the road, should they continue their development.
DubValue Picks List
Thomas Tien, F, 236th overall, Moose Jaw Warriors
Thomas Tien led the St. George’s Academy and was fifth in the Bantam Prep division in scoring with 64 points in 30 games. Tien plays an uptempo style and creates chances for linemates with his vision and playmaking ability. Cerebral in nature and excelling on the powerplay, Tien is not without his limitations. Thomas will need to start proving he can produce against the toughest competition if he is to have a shot at the next level.
Lindon Hanvold, LD, 219th overall, Vancouver Giants
A good two-way defenseman, Lindon showed tremendous growth this season. Despite his fluid skating and above average mobility, Lindon doesn’t “wow” you. He does, however, play a simple effective two-way game. Whether using his first pass or making quick reads, Lindon is a player that can be relied on in all three zones to bring a consistent effort and performance. By filling out his frame and continuing to develop his speed and mobility, Lindon could have a shot at cracking the Giants roster one day.
Colin Kessler, F, 198th overall, Prince Albert Raiders
One of the steals of the draft. One of the reasons Kessler was available so late was unfortunately due to geography. Playing for the Alaska Anchorage North Stars, Colin was unable to get in many games in front of scouts. Colin’s team made the trek down to BC and won the Pat Quinn Classic and then came second in KIBIHT just a week later. Colin is a raw talent with great straight ahead speed and a hard, lethal release. Due to injuries, Colin dressed up as a defenseman for most of the KIBIHT tournament. He led the tournament in scoring with 14 points in six games. That’s three points more than second place and five more than third. Colin played big minutes and was still able to beat entire teams wide through the neutral zone. If teams had a larger sample size of games played to evaluate him, he could have gone much higher. Raw in nature, Colin is certainly not without his flaws, but he certainly has the appearance to be a low-risk, high-reward pick for the Raiders.
Tyson Dyck, F, 143rd overall, Tri-City Americans
Tyson led the Burnaby Winter Club Bantam Prep team in scoring this season with 54 points in 30 games. Dyck relies on his crafty edgework, agility and fantastic puck skills to beat defenders in tight. Dyck’s vision allows him to effectively distribute the puck to teammates in scoring positions. Dyck is also able to use his patience to find shooting lanes where he deceptively beats goalies with an accurate shot. Dyck has a high offensive upside but will need to shore up inconsistencies in his play away from the puck and needs to work on his explosiveness to challenge defenders and keep up at the next level.
Vaughn Watterodt, F, 116th overall, Kamloops Blazers
According to Draft Geek, Vaughn is “one of the most improved players” in this year’s draft. Vaughn not only grew but improved his game tremendously over the course of the Bantam Prep season. A quick, strong, and agile skater that is hard to play against with or without the puck. With a work ethic and motor that is hard to match, Vaughn is quickly turning into one of the most versatile players in his age group, which bodes well for his future in Kamloops.
Nathan Chapman of Draft Geek is familiar with the talent out East and has graciously contributed his two favourite value picks from the draft.
Carter Briltz, F, 102nd overall, Victoria Royals
Skilled power forward who competes hard every shift, looking to make an impact whether it be offensively, defensively, or physically. Carter is a versatile player and is more effective in the secondary role but can drive the play if necessary. Briltz is a good skater with great vision and a hard shot. A swiss-army knife that can move up or down your lineup and play in any situation.
Tre Fouquette, RD, 74th overall, Prince Albert Raiders
Arguably the best defenseman in Saskatchewan, Tre Fouquette is a modern-day defenseman with great mobility, big shot, and high IQ. A zone exit machine that does well to retrieve dump-ins and transitions the puck quickly. If Tre continues to develop and work on the little details, he could become a key piece in Prince Albert’s top four.
Nathan’s Honourable Mentions
Eric Johnston, LD, 126th overall, Edmonton Oil Kings
Connor Hvidston, F, 133rd overall, Swift Current Broncos
Kylynn Olafson, F, 150th overall, Edmonton Oil Kings
Potential Camp Invitees (Undrafted)
Nolan Matthews, D, North Zone Kings
At 6’2″, 215 lbs, Nolan’s peers dare not to engage physically with the big man. This defenseman has respectable skating form and adequate mobility for someone of his stature. Nolan continued to improve all year and towards the end of the season was able to use his feet to transport the puck. Nolan struggles to make quick decisions at times and had some concerned that he was “too big”. Despite his weaknesses, Nolan is a unique physical specimen who was more than competent in the BC Zone Program. Nolan’s Kings upset the top-seeded Thompson Zone Blazers in the playoffs to advance to the Provincials.
Evan Fedele, F, Burnaby Winter Club Bantam Prep
A strong and skilled centerman, the knock against Evan Fedele this season was his skating and lack of punishment served. Evan likes to support the play and capitalize on loose pucks near the net. As his season progressed, so did his skating. If Evan can improve his play in the corners and on the wall, he could one day make the middle six of a WHL forward group.
Aidan Lindblad, F, OHA Penticton
Aidan Lindblad contributed over a point-per-game this season, finishing fourth on his OHA team in scoring. Aidan is a winger who supports the play first and likes to keep things in front of him. He enjoys using his vision and playing from the high wall. A responsible winger who will use this high-velocity shot from anywhere, Aidan sometimes lacks the urgency and tenaciousness required to go out and get the puck. Between his responsible nature and his weapon of a shot, look for Aidan to attend a camp this summer.
There are certainly many more “value” picks that have the potential to pay off big dividends for WHL clubs. Let us know some of your choices in the comments below.