The Prince George Cougars director of scouting Bob Simmonds said it best.
“They’re skilled, they play with passion, and they want to be in Prince George.”
With the annual WHL Bantam Draft now completed and many transactions made in the process, there was a lot to digest from Thursday May 2nd from a Prince George Cougars standpoint.
Fear not, we’ve got you covered from top to bottom.
The Prince George Cougars selected 10 players in total and made two notable transactions. By the numbers, six forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender were all drafted.
Simmonds pointed to how important this years draft is to the state of the organization,
“Well clearly we’re in a development cycle with a considerable strong upward trend.”
It all started in the early morning hours prior to the draft officially getting underway. The Cougars dealt their number two overall selection in essentially a three-team trade between the Winnipeg ICE and Saskatoon Blades. With everything said and done, the Cats got the number three overall selection and a third round pick in 2020 in return.
Multiple sources have told DUBNetwork.ca that this move was due to Conor Geekie‘s intention to refuse to report to the club had they selected him.
Heard from multiple sources now the PG Cougars dealt the #2 pick in the #WHLBantamDraft and did not select Conor Geekie because he would not report to Prince George had he been drafted by them. @dub_network
— Caden Fanshaw (@CadenFanshaw) May 2, 2019
Despite losing out on Geekie, the Cougars chose a very remarkable defenseman at number three in Keaton Dowhaniuk from OHA Edmonton (CSSHL) for the first of back-to-back first round selections.
DraftGeek’s scouting report credited his exceptional ability. “Consensus top defenseman in the draft, Dowhaniuk is a formidable two-way defenseman that plays with the sort of assertiveness physically that intimidates the opposition. Smooth four-way mobility and a heavy shot from the blue line, Dowhaniuk is a difference maker in all the zones and has the potential to be a top two defenseman.”
The Cougars subsequently selected forward Koehn Ziemmer, Dowhaniuk’s teammate from OHA Edmonton (CSSHL) at number four overall.
DraftGeek scouting report says “owning a versatile offensive package blended with elite execution and quick hands, Ziemmer’s abilities are respected by defenders and pushes them back. Ziemmer a constant producer who has the shooting abilities to score from anywhere but also the heady awareness to make players around him better.”
Cougars General Manager Mark Lamb commented on Dowhaniuk and Ziemmer following a very eventful first round.
“I don’t think we could be happier with the two picks we got.”
In round two, the Cougars added some grit with forward Kyren Gronick from the Regina Aces (SBAAHL) at #26 overall.
DraftGeek scouting report says the Cougars found themselves a gifted player “Short: A big thick power winger who relies on his physical strength to drive offensive scoring chances. Skilled with strong edgework, Gronick’s ability to escape pressure out of corners and play in traffic is tremendous. Plays with loads of grit, Gronick plays a heavy game whilst also being capable of finishing at a high rate.”
Round 2 continued with the selection of shutdown back end player Jaren Brinson from the Edge School (CSSHL) at 36th overall.
The DraftGeek scouting report complimented his shutdown ability “Short: A big physical defensive defenseman with shutdown qualities. Brinson has endless reach and a lanky physique, allowing him to cut off the ice and contain players one on one. Simple puck mover who can escape pressure before rushing the puck to the red line and get it deep”
The Cats then went back to drafting in round four selecting scorer Carter MacAdams with the 70th overall selection from Delta Hockey Academy (CSSHL)
Here’s what DraftGeek said Cougars fans can expect “May not be the kind of player yet that can drive the offense up the ice by himself but is a fantastic complimentary piece that can make plays and finish from in tight with the best of them. season. MacAdams projects to be a high skill, top two line, power play threat by the end of his junior career that will need some sheltering before he can find his footing in the offensive game at the WHL level.”
After a bit of a recess for the scouting staff, the Cougars were back on the board in round seven to pick forward Andrej Kovacevic out of the West Vancouver Warriors Academy (CSSHL) at 136.
DraftGeek pointed out he’s a likely candidate for the BCHL but has upside that could change his fate “A clever give-and-go passer who will make a pass then go to the net. Keeps it simple in his defensive end, tight his defenseman and eliminates him as an option to receive the puck. Doesn’t hit hard but hits often, always finish his checks even if its several seconds after he will give the previous puck carrier a nudge to let him know he’s there.”
The Cats topped out round seven with another West Van Warrior, Kassius Kler from the Bantam Varsity team at 146th overall.
DraftGeek did not have Kler listed in the top 200, however he was listed on their ‘Players to watch’ list.
In Round 9, the Cougars found their first and only netminder in the draft with Ty Young from the Lethbridge Golden Hawks (AMBHL) at 158th overall.
DraftGeek had Young ranked as the #16 available netminder in this year’s draft “Young is a big athletic net minder that’s gifted with natural size at 6’1. He competes incredibly hard, fighting around screens and battling for position. Plays his best when pressured to do so, remains poised and doesn’t let the big stage get to his head.”
When the round number struck 10, the Cougars took another defenseman, Connor Claughton from the Red Deer Rebels Bantam AAA (AMBHL) at 195th overall.
Followed up by the club’s final selection of the day Prince George took forward Gavin Schmidt of the Okotoks Oilers Bantam AAA (AMBHL) at 202nd overall.
Following that, the Cougars made yet another splash in the trade pool that was incredibly crowded today.
O’Brien 2.0 Acquired by Cougars:
The Cougars sent 2017 first round pick Tyson Phare (’02) to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for Prince George native Fischer O’Brien (’03).
O’Brien is the brother of Cougars alum Brogan O’Brien who played 211 games and counted 135 total points for his hometown club
A change in scenery may do wonders for Phare who played just 14 games for the Cougars as a 16-year-old.