Friday, May 3, 2013

2013 Bantam Draft

The 2013 WHL Bantam draft was just completed.  The best place for coverage would be Alan Caldwell's blog Small Thoughts at Large (I linked to the 6th round, since that's where the 'Hawks started picking).

Paul Buker was there, capturing the spirit of the thing.
The Hawks were forbidden from participating in the draft's first five rounds, part of their penalties administered by the WHL in November for player-benefit violations. Portland also loses first-round Bantam Draft picks next year and in 2015, and 2016, and 2017.
The team's first pick came in the sixth round, 121st overall, when the Hawks took defenseman Carter Czaikowski from the Calgary Flames Bantam AAA team, where he led his team's defensemen with 11 goals and 28 assists for 39 points in 32 games.

It was 19 years ago when I fell in love with the game, in my basement in small town Nebraska.  The 1994 Rangers-Devils series sold me on hockey - that Game 7 was special.  My first playoff run as a fan featured "The Guarantee" - of course I was hooked.

I listen to a podcast every weekday about the NHL - Marek v Wyshynski.  The hosts are a guy from Toronto & a guy from New Jersey.  Its been interesting to see the difference with the Ontario native gradually teaching the 'Merican where these kids come from. 

Like the vast majority of American NHL fans, Wysh had no idea how the system works - we think these guys parachute in on their 21st birthdays or whatever and go into the minor league system, which we understand from baseball.  I've been there as well.

As dedicated fans of Major Junior, we understand the pipeline to the NHL, and we also pick up on how NCAA hockey works, even if it is only related to the competition for players at this level.  However, most of us are similarly oblivious to where we get OUR guys from. 

In the 'Dub, teams draft kids completing their 14 year old season.  These guys will be eligible for training camp the following season, and up to 10 games in the regular season (you can ask the league for more games for them, if you are injured and whatnot).  They are not eligible for regular duty until their 16 year.  Fans don't have this quite figured out, at least not Facebook commenters after EVERY 'Hawks game this year with quips like "they better win this year, 'cause those draft picks are gonna kill 'em next season".  Those folks must think you are stocking a top line with 15 year olds, which ain't how it works.

When being kicked out of the first 5 rounds of this draft could hurt would be 4 & 5 seasons from now, as that's when this class will be in their 18 & 19 years, which is when they are counted on to contribute.  The 2017 1st rounder (the last one forfeited) would be in his 19 year in 2021, I think.  There's a delay to the pain with this.

When I touched on this last, we looked at where the current 'Hawks were picked - some high, some late, some not drafted at all.  I'm optimistic that the 'Hawks will continue to find good kids that slipped through the cracks, or American kids who had perceived NCAA leanings, and bring in some quality players.

To touch on Dylan's point:  I get the impression the only people who follow midget hockey are Major Junior / NCAA scouts & the kids parents who are playing at that level.  Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it looks like that to me.  The CHL is the first "world stage" - I think.

My feelings on this years bantam draft are simple.  First, this was the first time that the Vancouver Giants picked 1st overall since they took Gilbert Brule - and he turned out pretty good.  Not so much as an NHL player, but as a guy who picked up Bono hitchhiking one day.

Lastly, the pick of the Bellows kid - his dad went 2nd overall, and won the 1993 Stanley Cup. Of course, Brian Bellows had his detractors, and some felt during his first trip to the Stanley Cup Final he lacked toughness.....(NOT SAFE FOR WORK)

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