Calgary, AB. – The 2017 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft is in the books and the Wheat Kings were busy early with three picks in the top 30.
The Wheat Kings finished the day with ten players, 6 forwards and 4 defencemen. General Manager Grant Armstrong was pleased with Brandon’s selections, “It’s a step in the direction we were looking to go when we started this process. We looked to acquire skill based players and in my mind we’ve done that.”
With the 8th overall pick Brandon selected forward Ridly Greig from Lethbridge, AB. Greig is coming off a 71 point season that saw him score 22 goals and 49 assists in 35 games with the Lethbridge Golden Hawks.
Wheat Kings Director of Scouting Darren Ritchie had this to say about Ridly “His vision of the ice, how he distributes the puck is top notch. Makes his teammates better, very, very skilled and has great hockey knowledge.”
The 5’8 140lb Ridly is the son of former NHLer Mark Greig who played with the Hartford Whalers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers. Mark played his junior Hockey in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, recording 270 points in 201 games before going on to a 17-year pro career.
The Wheat Kings had two selections in the second round, starting off with the 27th overall pick that was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades in a trade that saw Brandon receive Mitch Wheaton and Schael Higson for Braylon Shmyr and Colton Waltz last season. With that pick the Wheat Kings opted for 6’0 167lb defenceman Vincent Iorio from Coquitlam, BC. Iorio recorded 6 goals and 23 assists in 26 games with Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep Team.
“Iorio is a very good puck moving D, that is smart and sees the ice well. Has a great shot.” said Ritchie.
Three picks later the Wheat Kings turned to Manitoba to select Winnipeg defenceman Anthony Kehrer with the 30th overall pick. Kehrer captained the Rink Hockey Academy this season. The 5’11 186lb Winnipeger recorded 27 points in 26 games with the Rink.
Ritchie describes Kehrer as, “A very good skater that is hard to play against, defends so well, has a great stick. He is a leader that competes hard.”
In the third round Brandon selected local product Nolan Ritchie 56th overall. Ritchie led the Winnipeg AAA Bantam League in goals and points with 38 and 89 respectively. Nolan is the son of former Wheat King Darren Ritchie, who was recently named to the Brandon Wheat Kings Top 50 Players of All-Time.
“I was probably harder on him than anyone else on our staff. He has skill and competes. For a guy that’s a little undersized, he doesn’t care about how big the guy he’s going against is.” Ritchie said about his son.
Defeceman Jack Zayat heard his name called with the 74th overall pick in the 4th round. Zayak registered 11 goals and 37 points in 34 games played with the Calgary Bisons of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League during the 2016-17 season.
With their 5th round pick Brandon selected forward Cameron MacDonald from Surrey, B.C. MacDonald played with Yale Bantam Prep Team that plays out of Abbotsford, B.C. The 5’7 160lb Cameron registered 38 points in 29 games played for Yale.
In the seventh round the Wheat Kings selected forward Braden Fischer from Winnipeg, MB. Fischer scored 25 goal to go along with 32 assists in 30 games played for the Winnipeg Monarchs this season.
The Wheat Kings used their two picks in the 8th round to select a pair of forwards. With the 162nd overall pick Brandon chose 5’6 156lb Bode Hagan from Beaumont, AB. Hagan put up 32 points in 30 games with OHA Edmonton. They followed that pick up with William Highet, a 5’11 152lb Forward from Winnipeg that recorded 33 point in 33 games with the Winnipeg Warriors.
In the ninth round Brandon went to the United States to select 5’7 150lb defenceman Owen Gallatin from Hugo, Minnesota.
“We’re real excited with our selections. They’re good players and good people, we can’t wait to see them in Brandon” said Ritchie.
Wheat Kings fans will get their first look at the newest members of the organization during their prospect camp that runs from May 26th – 28th at Westman Place.
For a full recap of the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft CLICK HERE
In total, 230 players were drafted over 14 rounds of selections, including 126 forwards, 83 defencemen and 21 goaltenders.
Alberta led all provinces with 73 players selected, followed by B.C. with 62 players, Saskatchewan with 41 players and Manitoba with 26 players. Additionally, 29 American-born players were selected.