April 28, 2013, Brandon, MB (ISN) – The 2013 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft will be held this coming Thursday at Calgary’s Deefoot Inn.
While no one knows who the Wheat Kings will choose with the fourth overall selection, which happens to be their highest pick in twenty years, it’s a safe bet that Brandon won’t be looking for someone to play between the pipes.
In fact when it comes to goaltending, the Wheat Kings have only used a first round selection to take one.
That one happens to be Jordan Papirny, who made his WHL debut with the Wheat Kings this past season while spending most of the year with the SSAC AAA Athletics in Edmonton.
The 22nd overall selection in 2011 may be the only first round pick in club history, but Papirny is one of a number of goalkeepers to be chosen by Brandon, since the WHL bantam draft was introduced twenty-three years ago.
Of them, several went on to enjoy outstanding careers in the Western League, including Tyler Plante. A local product and graduate of the AAA Midget Wheat Kings, Plante was a third round selection by Brandon in the 2002 draft. In his first season, he backstopped the Wheat Kings to the League Championship Final against the Kelowna Rockets.
A former WHL Rookie of the Year, Plante was later drafted by the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers. Today, he continues to play professionally in Europe.
Others to go on to play in the WHL include Mike Nichol (4th round, 2001), Joe Caligiuri (10th round, 2004), Deven Dubyk (11th round, 2006), Ty Rimmer (14th round, 2007), Liam Liston (3rd round, 2008) and Tyler Fuhr (4th round, 2010).
With Papirny expected to push returning veterans Corbin Boes and Curtis Honey in training camp this coming fall, the Wheat Kings enter Thursday’s draft in good shape between the pipes.
The WHL Bantam Draft is the first opportunity for WHL Clubs to replenish their systems with graduating bantam-aged players. The order of selection for the first round of the draft is determined through a weighted lottery consisting of the six non-playoff teams. The draft order is based on the inverse overall standings from the regular season.
Not only does Brandon own the fourth overall pick, the Wheat Kings have three of the first 25. In 1993, the Wheat Kings chose future captain Darren Van Oene with the second selection. He was later taken by Buffalo in the 2nd round (33rd overall) of the ’96 National Hockey League Entry Draft. Van Oene, who scored 59 goals and 141 points in 215 career games with the Wheat Kings, wound up playing seven seasons of professional hockey including four seasons with the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans.
The 2013 WHL Bantam Draft will see the Vancouver Giants select first overall. The last time the Giants chose first overall was in 2002 when they selected Gilbert Brule. Regina (2nd), Prince George (3rd) and Moose Jaw (5th) round out the top five.
Wheat Kings fans can watch the first round of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft live online via Webcast. The Draft begins at 9:30am CST. Fans can also keep up to date by following the Wheat Kings on Facebook, Twitter and online at www.wheatkings.com