The Western Hockey League is back in Winnipeg and the team announced their preseason schedule for the upcoming season earlier this week.
They’ll play a home-and-home with the Brandon Wheat Kings and two games on the road against the Saskatoon Blades.
Before all of that was announced, the organization took part in the WHL Bantam Draft last month in Red Deer, Alberta where after a couple trades, they picked first and second overall. With their second pick, the team chose Strathclair’s, Conor Geekie.
Conor has played the past two seasons with the Yellowhead Chiefs Bantam AAA team.
“Obviously going in I was hoping to go decently high. I had my expectations pretty low, though,” said Geekie. “When Winnipeg traded for that second pick I’ve always wanted to go there. For them to push like that to get me meant a lot, it really was an honour.”
I also caught up with Jake Heisinger who’s the Director of Scouting and Hockey Operations for the organization. For him, choosing Conor was a no-brainer.
“Conor brings a little bit of everything with his game. His size is the first thing that jumps out to everyone when you see him on the ice,” added Heisinger. “He does so many good things on the ice, he has great hands and he can do so many great things with the puck. He’s going to get bigger and stronger.”
“We’re certainly excited about what he is and how much he’s going to develop,” he added.
Last season with the Chiefs, Conor led the league with 86 points (49G) in just 31 games. The 15-year-old helped the team advance to the provincials.
Adding to his already impressive young resume, Conor added 68 points in the season prior as well for a 154 point total in just 66 games.
“My team had a really strong year. They really helped me have the success I did,” added Geekie. “They supported me the whole way. I always gave it my all and everything worked out pretty well.”
Just less than a month after Conor was drafted second overall, something else happened that he will never forget. He signed his first WHL Standard Player Agreement with the organization.
That set the stage for his first Development Camp with the team which wrapped up on June 2.
Heisinger who was front and centre shares an update on Conor’s first camp with the team.
“It wasn’t so much for evaluating, it was more about getting comfortable with his surroundings and understanding how things work,” added Heisinger. “I think he had a lot of fun as did every other player that took part, it was a good weekend overall.”
Now when it comes to the summer months, Conor will remain very active out on the ice as well as his off-ice training and he’ll also play baseball. Conor’s brother Noah plays collegiate baseball in the U.S. All of his preparation will be put to the test in the fall when he takes part in his first WHL main camp.
“I have to keep working and I want to be the best player out on the ice every time,” said Geekie. “The summer is an important time for me and I know that. I want to show them that drafting me second was the right choice.”
When it all comes down to it, Conor’s next immediate goal is cracking the roster for his home province team. With all of the success he’s had wherever he’s played, it’s expected that isn’t far from happening and it’s a moment that he can’t wait for.
“When I think about playing for the team I get really excited, it would mean so much to me,” added Geekie. “I love the competition and I want to play against the best of the best and I know Winnipeg can provide me with that opportunity.”
Just last week was also a very special moment for Conor and the entire Geekie family. Morgan Geekie won the American Hockey League with the Charlotte Checkers as they beat the Chicago Wolves in five games. Morgan played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans.
Morgan also played three seasons with the Chiefs AAA program, one of which was with the Bantam team where Conor played this past season.
“Morgan winning was a pretty special moment for my family,” added Geekie. “Morgan and Noah have helped me so much alongside my dad, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have without them, I can’t thank them enough.”