March 21, 2013, Calgary, AB (ISN) – The Regina Pats were the big winners at Wednesday’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft Lottery in Calgary. By virtue of having their ball dropped first, the Pats will select second and move ahead of both Brandon and Prince George.
The Vancouver Giants, who finished with the worst record in the WHL this past season, will retain the first overall selection with Regina drafting second and the Cougars third. That means the Wheat Kings will drop from third to fourth.
Wednesday’s Lottery involved the WHL’s six non-playoff teams, including the Wheat Kings, with only three clubs – the Giants, Prince George and Brandon – having a chance to claim the number one selection. The Giants, who finished in last place overall, had the best odds going in. With the Pats moving up, the Cougars and Wheat Kings slip to third and fourth respectively.
The Wheat Kings, who finished the 2012-13 season with a 24-40-4-4 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2000, were participating in the league draft lottery for the first time ever.
Since the last time that they missed post-season play, the Wheat Kings have only had three top-ten selections in the draft. In 2000, Brandon used the fifth overall pick to grab right-winger Eric Fehr, who currently skates with the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals. In 2001, Brandon chose Jeff Topilko with the ninth overall selection and in 2006, the Wheat Kings used the 9th overall pick to draft Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers.
After not having a first or second round selection in 2010 (due to the MasterCard Memorial Cup), the Wheat Kings have had three first round picks over the last two years. In 2011, Brandon chosen defenceman Kord Pankewicz (11th) and netminder Jordan Papirny (22nd) while last May, they opted for Calgary center Braylon Schmyr (12th overall).
Despite slipping back to number four, the Wheat Kings will have their highest pick since 1993 when they took former captain Darren Van Oene with the second overall selection. Brandon has never had the number one pick since the league introduced the bantam draft in 1990.
In addition to the fourth overall pick, the Wheat Kings will also have Saskatoon’s first round selection (17th overall) thanks to the January Trade Deadline deal that saw veteran left-winger Michael Ferland move to the Blades. The Lottery only applies to the first round of the WHL Bantam Draft. For each round following the first round, WHL teams shall draft in the inverse order of final regular season standings with Vancouver receiving the first pick.
This year’s Bantam Draft is scheduled for May 2nd in Calgary.