Two days have passed since the much anticipated WHL Bantam Draft and it did not disappoint. Over the next couple of weeks, we will break down our thoughts on the draft and which teams might have hit big and which teams might have missed.

#1: Connor Bedard (Regina Pats)

To no one’s surprise, Bedard, who had signed with Regina prior to the draft was selected at the one spot.

#2: Riley Heidt (Prince George Cougars)

After Bedard, Prince George took aim at one of the two Saskatoon Contacts players who both rumouredly applied for exceptional status. Though the big, fast centerman Brayden Yager appeared to be the consensus two pick in the draft, it is possible the Cougars took the player they felt was best suited for their organization and most likely to sign. When choosing between the two Saskatoon players, there is little separating their projected development and some would argue that the elite winger, Riley Heidt, has a higher ceiling.

#3 Brayden Yager (Moose Jaw Warriors)

A no brainer decision for the Moose Jaw Warriors. One of the best prospects to come out of Saskatchewan in quite some time, the Warriors didn’t have to venture far to add a high-end center prospect. Through three picks the WHL Bantam Draft saw the top-three players available selected.

#4 Lukas Dragicevic (Tri-City Americans)

One of the top-two defensemen in the WHL Bantam draft and a can’t miss prospect. Lukas’ father, Milan, played four of his 240 career WHL games with the Americans and was also an Assistant Coach for them for four years. Tri-City went with a bit of familiarity and arguably the best defenceman in the draft. Both Lukas and Tanner Molendyk broke Luke Prokop’s CSSHL record for points in a season by a defenceman.

#5 Tanner Molendyk (Saskatoon Blades)

Another fantastic two-way defenseman. Despite rumours of NCAA potentially in his future, Colin Priestner and his crew are confident in their program and couldn’t pass on the best player available and potential franchise defenceman.  Shortly after the draft, it was confirmed on Twitter that Tanner intends to sign with the Blades.

#6 Kalan Lind (Red Deer Rebels)

A bit of a surprise out of Red Deer was the selection of Kalan Lind with two large and in charge Alberta defensemen on the board. However, this is not a reach for a player of Lind’s skillset. An intelligent and prolific goal scorer, Kalan is a more highly-touted prospect than his older brother Kole was at this age. Lind displays the potential to be a game-breaking scorer and number one center.

#7 Sam Oremba (Seattle Thunderbirds)

Seattle landed the guy that the team had on their draft board for quite some time. An elite skater with an unbelievable offensive skillset that tries to impact the game in every zone.  A continued sign of teams prioritizing speed and skill in this year’s draft.

#8 Andrew Cristall (Kelowna Rockets)

With Lind and Oremba off the board, the Rockets took a big swing at a prospect with an elite offensive skillset and high ceiling. Despite most people having Cristall outside of their top ten due to the depth of the draft and the Cristall’s need to improve his strength and skating, the Rockets weren’t afraid to pick their guy. Fans of the Rockets could be praising this pick in years to come.

#9 Austin Zemlak (Victoria Royals)

Victoria grabbed an elite athlete and, depending on who you talk to, underrated prospect. Austin Zemlak screams top-pairing potential as a two-way defenceman with a very well-rounded game. Despite raw in some areas and Mazden Leslie still on the board, Zemlak could be one of the best defencemen the organization has ever seen.

#10 Mazden Leslie (Vancouver Giants)

I’m not sure Barclay Parneta foresaw Mazden Leslie dropping to the Giants at ten. From the beginning of the season until the end, Leslie was largely considered a top-eight prospect. The Giants secured a big, physical, and offensively inclined defenceman. Though Mazden will need to continue to work on the smaller details and defensive zone play, the Giants landed a big fish at ten.

#11 Reid Andresen (Medicine Hat Tigers)

A surprise pick as the Tigers have traditionally gone 6′ or taller in their defence corps for a long time. However, the Tigers opted to take a skilled, under-sized, offensive defenseman. A great puck transporter and powerplay quarterback with a competent two-way game.

#12 Oliver Tulk (Calgary Hitmen)

A safe, and solid pick for the Hitmen. Tulk features a subtle and unbelievably effective two-way game with a high-offensive upside. A great skating, a cerebral, two-way playmaker with the ability to control the game when the puck is on his stick. A low floor, high-ceiling pick.

#13 Quinn Mantei (Brandon Wheat Kings)

Somewhat a surprise pick given the players still on the WHL Bantam Draft board. The Wheat Kings went with another excellent skating, puck transporting defenceman.  An adequate two-way presence that excels in transition and at speed.

#14 Zach Benson (Winnipeg ICE)

The ICE added the leading scorer from the CSSHL. An undersized centerman with great IQ and playmaking ability.  Crafty and creative, the ICE adds yet another high-skill, high-ceiling forward to their fold. While Benson was likely the best player available on Winnipeg’s board, the team didn’t draft a defenceman until the 8th round in 2019, and not until the 4th round in this year’s draft, while they added a ton of forward talent to their prospect pool. Lambos and Prosofsky are now full-timers, but the organization seems a little light when it comes to 2004 and 2005 born defencemen. They may likely look to make a swap down the road with the assets they have at forward.

#15 Terrell Goldsmith (Prince Albert Raiders)

Prince Albert goes big. Goldsmith appeared to be an underrated prospect in this year’s draft. Great mobility for his size and significantly improved over the course of the year. Goldsmith projects as a very solid two-way defenceman with size and versatility.

#16 Cole Miller (Lethbridge Hurricanes)

A higher-end prospect coming into the season after an exceptional first-year bantam season in Edmonton. Cole established himself as a big, solid skating center with some offensive upside. However, this season, Cole produced fewer points and points-per-game than last year while playing on the same team. This would have potentially lowered his draft stock with many teams and there were some excellent alternatives on the board still. Time will tell if Lethbridge knocked this out of the park or struck out.

#17 Caden Brown (Prince George Cougars)

A solid, two-way, leader. Prince George selected the exceptionally intelligent, skilled, two-way forward. Despite some knocks on his skating and a lack of explosiveness and top-end speed, Caden is able to make up for that with his excellent anticipation. A future leader for the Cougars locker room.

#18 Saige Weinstein (Spokane Chiefs)

The Chiefs get a solid, two-way, puck-moving defenceman. The bread and butter of the Chiefs for years and years, they add to their prospect pool with a solid puck transporter, capable of making an impact at both ends of the ice.

#19 Kaden Hammell (Kamloops Blazers)

Considered a top-ten talent by many except WHL teams, apparently. A high-upside offensive defenceman with good wheels and size. Compared to Shea Theodore, Kaden has a lot of room for development to refine his all-around game, however, he should not have been available at this spot, a testament to this draft class, perhaps. The Kamloops Blazers may have found gold.

#20 Dawson Seitz (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Limited by injuries this season, Dawson Seitz may have been one of the more difficult prospects to project and compare against his peers. However, Edmonton was confident enough to select him with their only pick in the first three rounds. A strong, two-way center with decent speed and puck skills, time will tell if Edmonton hoodwinked the league.

#21 Brady Birnie (Swift Current Broncos)

A potential reach, many were concerned that Birnie’s offensive output this season was highly inflated by Sam Oremba (7th overall). Swift Current is in the process of rebuilding and may have reached a bit to get a guy that fits their culture and organization moving forward. A very intelligent player with creativity and elusiveness to his game. He undoubtedly showed great chemistry with one of the most talented players in the draft, which could bode very well for the next level.

#22 Ryker Singer (Prince George Cougars)

Prince George made their third(!) selection of the first round of the WHL Bantam Draft at number 22. They opted to round out there other two picks with a rambunctious winger with high-skill and tenacity. There are a lot of aspects of Ryker’s game that makes it miserable for opposition to play against. If he’s not beating you on the scoresheet, you’re feeling his presence physically and behind the play. He will need to reel in his discipline at the next level but brings jam that complements the skill, leadership, and two-way play they selected earlier.


Stay tuned for our next piece where we look for value and evaluate which teams may have done the best job on draft day.