April 30, 2014, Calgary, AB. (ISN) – Whoever goes first overall in Thursday’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft in Calgary will be joining some some pretty select company, by becoming one of only twenty-five to go first overall since the league introduced the draft in 1990.
The Brandon Wheat Kings, who will be selecting first for the first time in franchise history, haven’t had a top ten pick in the draft since 2006 when they took Saskatoon’s Brayden Schenn ninth overall. In fact, the Wheat Kings have had only one top five pick (Eric Fehr, 2000), since drafting second overall in 1991, ’92 and ’93 when they opted for Colin Cloutier, Wade Redden and Darren Van Oene respectively.
Among those that have been chosen first overall over the course of the past 24 years include the likes of Matthew Barzal (Seattle) and Jake Virtanen (Calgary), who recently joined Wheat Kings Ryan Pilon, Jayce Hawryluk and John Quenneville in helping Team Canada capture a bronze medal at the World Under 18 Championship in Finland.
Other members of that select company of former first round picks include Jarret Stoll (Edmonton Ice) of the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia’s Braydon Coburn (Portland), Jay Bouwmeester (Medicine Hat) of the St. Louis Blues, Jonathan Toews (Tri-City) of Chicago, Pheonix Coyotes’ Kyle Chipchura (Prince Albert) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer) of the Edmonton Oilers.
Nugent-Hopkins is one of five from that list that went on to become top ten picks in the National Hockey League, going first overall in 2011 and joining the Oilers as an 18-year old rookie later that year.
The others are Toews (3rd overall in 2006), Bouwmeester (3rd overall in 2002), Coburn (8th overall in 2003) and Cowan (9th overall in 2009).
Cowan has spent the last three years in Ottawa, Coburn has played the the past ten years in the NHL after being originally selected by the Atlanta Thrashers and has 157 points including 36 goals in 575 career games.
A member of back to back Gold Medal winning Canadian Olympic teams, Toews is a two time Stanley Cup Champion with 195 goals and 440 points in 484 career games. Bouwmeester meanwhile has played the past eleven years in the NHL with the Panthers, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues. In 846 career games, the Canadian Olympic blueliner has scored 76 goals and 344 points.
Following is a complete list of former 1st overall selections in the WHL Bantam Draft History:
- 1990 – Darcy Mattersdorfer, Prince George
- 1991 – Adam Smith, Kelowna
- 1992 – Mike McBain, Red Deer
- 1993 – Martin Hohenberger, Prince George
- 1994 – Jarret Smith, Prince George
- 1995 – Chris Nielsen, Calgary
- 1996 – Steve McCarthy, Edmonton Ice
- 1997 – Jarret Stoll, Edmonton Ice
- 1998 – Jay Bouwmeester, Medicine Hat
- 1999 – Ryan Hollweg, Medicine Hat
- 2000 – Braydon Coburn, Portland
- 2001 – Kyle Chipchura, Prince Albert
- 2002 – Gilbert Brule, Vancouver
- 2003 – Jonathan Toews, Tri-City
- 2004 – Ryan Kerr, Prince George
- 2005 – Colten Teubert, Regina Pats
- 2006 – Jared Cowen, Spokane
- 2007 – Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw
- 2008 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer
- 2009 – Derrick Pouliot, Portland
- 2010 – Alex Forsberg, Prince George
- 2011 – Jake Virtanen, Calgary
- 2012 – Mathew Barzal, Seattle
- 2013 – Tyler Benson, Vancouver
While Brandon will be selecting first overall for the first time ever, they will join seven other clubs that have had one number one pick. Those include Regina (Teubert), Moose Jaw (Howden), Spokane (Cowan), Kelowna (Smith), Prince Albert (Chipchura), Seattle (Barzal) and Tri-City (Toews).
Six other teams meanwhile have had the chance to draft first overall since the draft was introduced in 1990. Those teams are Medicine Hat (Hollweg and Bouwmeester), Red Deer (Nugent-Hopkins and McBain), Portland (Pouliot and Coburn), Calgary (Virtanen and Nielsen), Vancouver (Benson and Brule) and the Edmonton / Kootenay Ice (McCarthy and Stoll).
Only one club has more than two first overall picks in league history and that team is the Prince George Cougars, who have had a total of five (Mattersdorfer, Hohenberger, Smith, Kerr and Forsberg).
Among the teams that have never chosen number one – the Saskatoon Blades – who ironically won this year’s bantam draft lottery, only to give up the pick to Brandon as a result of a 2011 trade between the two clubs.
Players eligible for the draft will be 1999 born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska and the western United States. Three Manitobans – Toews and Howden of Winnipeg and Nielsen of Goodlands – have been selected first.
The draft will get underway at 9:30am (Manitoba time) Thursday, with the entire first round to be webcast on www.whl.ca To keep up to date on Brandon’s selections be sure to follow the Wheat Kings on Facebook, Twitter and online at www.wheatkings.com