1. Seth Jones D Portland – Jones is a genetic freak. Big, smooth skating, understands hockey at a very high level. A total package in terms of a defenseman. As soon as he steps on WHL ice, he will be the most coveted player in the WHL by NHL teams. Likely a top 2 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
2. Ryan Pulock D Brandon – In my mind, a potential 20 goal Dman that can keep his own end clean in the NHL. This upcoming year will be more about Pulock helping his Brandon team vault up the standings.
3. Hunter Shinkaruk LW Medicine Hat – Shinkaruk is the best pure goal scorer of the group. Able to create on his own and thrive in a team environment. Put up 49 goals last season, expect more of the same. Very crafty, cerebral player.
4. Curtis Lazar C Edmonton – Two-way play is the strength of Lazar’s game, to go along with a quick release on his shot. Should get a chance to be a more prominent offensive player on the Oil Kings this upcoming season.
5. Josh Morrissey D Prince Albert – Morrissey reminded me a lot of what Morgan Rielly did in his 16 year old season. Great mobility and vision on the ice, but still raw in terms of defensive assignments. He will get a bigger role in PA this upcoming season and could become their feature defenseman.
6. Alex Forsberg C Prince George – Might be ranked this high more on pedigree than hockey substance. Forsberg was the first pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft. Forsberg does have offensive skills and instincts, but whether he can get his teammates in Prince George to help him with the offensive burden will be something that needs to be seen. Needs to refine his hockey sense.
7. Morgan Klimchuk C Regina – Klimchuk started last season off strong but faded as the season went on. Klimchuk’s game revolves around hockey smarts and being opportunistic. Will get a big offensive role with the Pats this upcoming season.
8. Eric Comrie G Tri-City – Comrie is likely the best draft eligible goaltending from the WHL. Comrie has the pedigree and ability to be a first round draft pick in the upcoming draft, the question is whether or not he gets enough games in to justify it.
9. Madison Bowey D Kelowna – Kelowna continues to be a Dman factory, and Bowey is the latest edition. Smooth-skating, puckmoving Dman that will likely get more offensive looks this upcoming season.
10. Jamal Watson RW Lethbridge – Kind of a darkhorse player of mine to breakout offensively this season. Coming off a season where he only tallied 5 times, but loves to take the puck to the net with reckless abandon. Needs to fill out a bit in order to play that style effectively.
11. Jay Merkley C Lethbridge – Merkley and Watson should both get an opportunity to play in offensive roles this season. Merkley’s game hopes to develop into a two-way center. Should be interesting to watch these two kids grow.
12. Eric Roy D Brandon – Roy enjoyed a solid 2nd season with the Wheat Kings by putting up 53 points in 69 games. Roy has gifted offensive ability but at the moment is still a string bean on defense. Will need to bulk up in order to be effective at the pro level.
13. Shea Theodore D Seattle – Theodore had a solid 16 year old season on an anemic Seattle team. Finished third on his team in points with 35 as a defenseman. Also finished -36 meaning he was likely playing over his head defensively. It will be interesting to see what kind of role and production Theodore has on a rebuilding Seattle team.
14. Matt Needham RW Kamloops – Needham plays the game with a bundle of energy. Very tenacious on the forecheck and has modest offensive skills. Can play a variety of forward positons. Needs to bulk up a smidge if he wants to play the pest type game.
15. Greg Chase C Calgary – Playmaking center that had an up and down season. Crafty player with the puck. Should see an increase in offensive situations this upcoming season.16. Connor Rankin C Tri-City – Offensive centerman that played a depth role on their team last season. Crafty player that plays both ends of the ice very well. Should see an increase in icetime with their last year’s very solid 20 year olds now departed.
17. Carter Hansen RW Moose Jaw – Emerging yet very raw power forward has a year under his belt and can now make his adjustments. Once he learns how to use his frame in scoring situations, he should become a handful for opposing defenders. Tallied 8 times last year.
18. Brian Williams C Tri-City – Diminutive yet fearless offensive center doesn’t mind getting his nose dirty. Only standing at 5’7″ but plays a tenacious, on the puck style. Has emerging offensive skills.
19. Keegan Kanzig D Victoria – It’s rare to find a 17 year old that stands at 6’5″ 230lbs, but thats what Kanzig is. Not very mobile and tends to get beaten with speed, but if he can find better stick positioning and an element of nastiness to put fear into his opponents, he might have a future as a tough as nails Dman.
20. Andrew Johnson C Moose Jaw – Johnson did well in a depth role last season with Moose Jaw. Slender center that plays both ends of the ice well. He’s a part of the next wave of players that will take on offensive role in Moose Jaw.
21. Tristan Jarry G Edmonton – Jarry played in 14 games last season as he served as backup to Laurent Brossoit. Will likely to continue to do so this season. A hybrid athletic/positional type goaltender that scouts are looking for. Still very raw but emerging as a solid backstop.
22. Jesse Lees D Kelowna – Lees is an mobile, puckmoving Dman. Still growing into his frame, but should get more minutes in Kelowna. Lees will have to show more of an offensive dimension this season. Is one day from being a 2014 draft eligible player.
23. Jared Hauf D Seattle – This spot for Hauf is based more on pedigree than anything. He was the 4th overall pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft but has had a tough time at the WHL level. Seattle is a team that is trying to gain some traction, and Hauf playing to his ability would go a long way into establishing that. At 6’5 200lbs, he has the frame if he can put his game together.
24. Nic Petan C Portland – Petan played very well in a depth role on a very deep Portland team. Petan has decent offensive skill in his smaller frame. Will interesting to see if he can take on a larger role in this upcoming season.
25. Kohl Bauml C Everett – Bauml is another one of the diminutive but fealess forwards coming out of the U.S. Division. Has some offensive pop, but can play in a defensive role as well. Tenacious on the forecheck.
26. Macoy Erkamps D Lethbridge – Puckmoving Dman that got an education in his first WHL season. Put up 20 points in 63 games with a -23 rating on a weak Lethbridge team. Should enjoy a more productive 2nd season on a seemingly improving Lethbridge team.
27. Jordan Tkatch C Prince George – Scored 11 goals in his rookie season on a lethargic Prince George team. Is primed to be the 2nd line pivot behind Alex Forsberg, may even get a chance to play with him.
28. Kade Pilton D Victoria – Good sized defender that may have more offensive upside than his teammate Kanzig, but also is a work in progress defensively. He and Kanzig will be needed to get Victoria into a competitive state.
29. Mason Geertsen D Edmonton – Tough as nails depth defender last season. Doesn’t mind dropping the gloves to make a point. Decent skater for his size. Should be more of a regular heading into this season.
30. Chase Souto RW Kamloops – Souto played a depth role on a strong Kamloops team. Scored 11 times last season. Already a 2 year WHL vet, will be asked to take on a bigger role this season