The Vancouver Giants went local in their first step towards building next year’s squad.
The team swung a deal to acquire 2000-born forward Jackson Shepard, a North Vancouver native, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for a 2021 third round pick in the Bantam Draft.
Shepard, originally drafted with the first pick of the second round (23rd overall) by the Kamloops Blazers in 2015, has skated in 181 career WHL games split between the Blazers and Hurricanes compiling 56 points (17G, 39A). 22 of his points came this past season with Lethbridge where he had five goals and 17 assists.
The five-foot-nine 181 pound left winger gives the Giants six incoming 19-year-olds along with Kaleb Bulych, Seth Bafaro, Alex Kannok-Leipert, Tristen Nielsen, and Yannick Valenti.
He will hope to have a breakout year in his hometown with a team that will surely still be in contention, after not quite finding the right fit in Lethbridge.
Internationally, the veteran of three WHL seasons has represented Canada on two separate occasions, first in 2016-17 when he played on Team Canada White, alongside new teammate Tristen Nielsen, at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge where he recorded a goal and an assist in six games earning a fourth-place finish.
Shepard also played in the 2017 Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he went pointless in five games but played a big role on the penalty kill and his play away from the puck helped earn a gold medal for Canada at that highly prestigious tournament.
When Jackson Shepard throws on the Vancouver Giants jersey for the first time next season, it will not be his first time sporting the Giants colours.
In his only year of midget hockey, Shepard played for the Vancouver North West Giants of the British Columbia Major Midget Hockey League in 2015-16. As a 15-year-old first year player, he finished fifth in team scoring that year with 42 points (13G, 29A) in 37 games, which earned him two games with the Blazers as an affiliate player.
Shepard had previously been acquired by the Hurricanes for Zane Franklin and a 2020 fourth round pick.
Jackson’s younger brother, Cole, is also a Giants prospect and considered one of the top 2002-born players in Western Canada. Cole was drafted in the second round, 33rd overall in 2017 by Vancouver and spent this past season with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. The 17-year-old had 24 points (7G, 17A) in 53 games and also followed in his older brother’s footsteps, competing in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge as well but for Canada Red, earning four assists in six games. It is unsure if Giants fans will see the younger Shepard brother as he currently has a verbal NCAA commitment to Harvard University for the 2021-22 season.