Many people were calling the 2020 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft the deepest in quite a few years. Led by Connor Bedard who was picked first overall by the Regina Pats, the draft included so many top prospects and the Brandon Wheat Kings were able to get in on the action with the 13th overall pick.
With that pick, the Wheat Kings went just more than three hours down the road to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where they selected Quinn Mantei.
Quinn played this past season with the Weyburn Wings Bantam AA squad where he was very efficient and we’ll get more to that in just a little bit.
The Weyburn native grew up watching all of the Saskatchewan teams in the WHL. That includes the Regina Pats who are the closest team to his hometown, the Saskatoon Blades, Prince Albert Raiders, Swift Current Broncos, and Moose Jaw Warriors.
So Quinn wasn’t necessarily drafted to the team he grew up watching. However, he couldn’t be any more thrilled to be joining an organization with such a rich history.
“It was my dream when I was a kid to get drafted, it’s a pretty surreal feeling,” said Mantei. “Brandon has such a great history and the players that have come out of there have been so successful. I’ve also chatted with Doug, Darren, and Dave (of the Wheat Kings front office), they have been incredible.”
“There were a ton of great players that were selected in this year’s draft,” he added. “It was such a deep talent pool, I’m honoured that I was selected,” he added.
As mentioned above, Mantei was very efficient this season. In just 30 games with Weyburn, the two-way defenceman scored 22 times and he added 30 assists for a 52 point total. The increase is 23 points more than he had the previous season.
In the playoffs, Quinn had one assist in three games.
“I felt I was a lot more confident on the ice, I had that one more year of experience,” continued Mantei. “We also had a veteran group so I was comfortable. I’m pretty pleased with what I was able to produce, it was a fun season.”
As we rewind to draft day, it was known well before that Bedard would be selected first overall by the Regina Pats. The young phenom also signed his WHL Standard Player Agreement even before the draft. That wasn’t the case for Quinn; however, it sure didn’t take long.
On May 8th, just more than two weeks after he was selected 13th, the Weyburn native signed his WHL Standard Player Agreement with the Wheat Kings marking a day that Quinn will never forget. When deciding if he wanted to sign the contract, it was really a no-brainer for Quinn who has been dreaming of playing in the Western Hockey League for as long as he can remember.
“Just to even know that a team wants to sign you, that’s a big honour,” continued Mantei. “The WHL is such a great league with so many great players. I’ve been certain for years that I wanted to play in the WHL. I’m super excited to be a Wheat King.”
Mantei’s goal is to make Brandon in time for the 2021-2022 season. Before that, he’ll join the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Saskatchewan U18 AAA Hockey League for next season.
Quinn already played seven games with that team over the past season and now, he’ll become a full-time rostered player.
“It’s certainly going to be a big jump. I think the fact that I played a few games this past season will only help me,” continued Mantei. “I’ll have to get used to it like there’s going to be a learning curve, but I’m hoping to put together another great season.”
As far as what’s up for Quinn this summer. He says he will be doing a lot of yard work and of course, he’ll spend a lot of time in his home gym as he gets set for the fall.
Wheat King fun fact:
The last time Brandon selected 13th overall was way back in 1999. That’s when they drafted Tim Konsorada. He was the captain of the team from 2003-2005, his final two years as a junior-hockey player. In 2004-2005, he had 87 regular-season points (29G) and 15 playoff points (4G).
Tim went on to play professional hockey, a career that ended in Germany after the 2010-2011 season.