Calgary, AB- The Victoria Royals are proud to announce the selection of 11 players at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft in Calgary, AB today.
Of the Royals’ 11 draft picks British Columbia and Alberta each contributed three players, Saskatchewan supplied two skaters and Manitoba provided one player. Victoria’s remaining two selections were drafted from the United States (Arizona and Colorado). By position the Royals selected six forwards, four defencemen and one goalie.
The Royals used their first pick, 13th overall, to select forward Eric Florchuk from the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL). Florchuk, a 5-10, 140 lb centre, suited up in 33 games and amassed 46 points (24g-22a). The Fort Saskatchewan, AB native led his team to the league final of the 2015 AMBHL Playoffs. During the playoffs he notched 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points in 14 contests.
“Eric is a dynamic player who is gifted offensively and one of the best players our scouts have seen in recent years,” General Manager Cameron Hope said. “We are excited about his future in the Western Hockey League.”
Victoria’s second round selection, 35th overall, was used to draft 6-1, 180 lb defenceman Mitchell Prowse. The native of Kelowna, BC most recently played for the Okanagan Hockey Academy (OHA) of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) where he collected seven assists and 24 penalty minutes in 18 games. Prowse helped OHA win the CSSHL Championship and accumulated three points (1g-2a) in four games.
“Mitchell has pro-potential,” Royals’ Assistant GM, Player Personnel Grant Armstrong said. “He is a very good defender with solid offensive instincts. We believe he is going to be a tremendous fit for our program.”
With the 57th overall selection, the Royals chose 5-10, 165 lb forward Kaid Oliver from the Arizona Bobcats U16 AAA team of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL). The product of Scottsdale, AZ collected 12 points (6g-6a) last season to go along with 40 penalty minutes over 20 games.
“Oliver is power-forward who is smart, skilled and physical,” Royals’ Director of Scouting Garry Pochipinski said.
The Royals used their second selection of the third round, 61st overall, to pick 6-1, 160 lb goaltender Dean McNabb. The Davidson, SK native spent the 2014-15 season with the Notre Dame Hounds Bantam AAA team of the South Saskatchewan Minor Hockey League (SSMHL). McNabb posted a 7-7-0 record with a 3.65 goals against average in 17 regular season games last year.
“Dean is a technical goaltender,” Pochipinski said. “He has quickness and moves well side-to-side.”
Victoria’s fifth round selection was used to draft forward Constandino Kambeitz. During the 2014-15 season, Kambeitz played for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders of the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA). The 5-11, 165 lb winger played in 15 games and collected seven points (5g-2a) and 14 penalty minutes.
“Kambeitz is a gifted and hardworking offensive player,” Armstrong said. “He has a nice touch around the net and works hard in all three zones of the rink.
Victoria grabbed Deloraine, MB product Grady Hobbs with their second pick of the fifth round, 102nd overall. This past season, the 5-8, 167 lb winger collected 50 points (27g-23a) over 31 games to go along with 100 penalty minutes for the South West Cougars B1 team of the Winnipeg AAA Hockey league.
“Grady is a gritty forward with offensive instincts,” Armstrong said. “He is an effective forechecker who generates offense by his hard work.”
With the 112th overall pick the Royals selected defenceman Luke Bast from the Red Deer Rebels White Bantam AAA team of the AMBHL. Over 31 games the 5-6, 139 lb blueliner recorded 14 points (8g-6g) and 30 penalty minutes.
“Luke is a very intelligent defenceman who has outstanding offensive abilities,” Pochipinski said. “He defends and moves the puck well.”
The Royals used their seventh pick, 145th overall, to draft defender Matthew Smith. The Saskatoon, SK native most recently played for the Saskatoon Maniacs Bantam AA team in the Saskatchewan Bantam AA League (SBAAL). Smith collected 29 points (13g-16a) to go along with 10 penalty minutes in 31 games.
“Matthew is a versatile young defenceman who plays well at both ends of the ice,” Pochipinski said. “He has very good vision, reads the play well and moves the puck at the appropriate time.”
Victoria selected Sean Gulka with the 182nd selection. Gulka, a 5-10, 145 lb centre, spent the 2014-15 season with the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins A1 team of the Pacific Coast Bantam Hockey League (PCBHL). Gulka helped the Bruins to a 3-2-0 record at the BC Provincials after they won the PCBHL Championship title.
“Sean plays on the edge and thus commands a lot of respect on the ice,” Armstong said. “He is a player who will be difficult to play against.”
With their second pick of the round, 189th overall, the Royals nabbed Victoria, BC native Lach Hadley from the Delta Bantam Prep team of the CSSHL. The 5-10, 155 lb winger played in 15 games where he picked up 15 points (5g-10a) to go along with eight penalty minutes. Hadley helped lead his team to a first place finish in their division with a 12-4-2 record.
“Lach is a player who he has tremendous upside,” Armstrong said. “We have seen continued improvement in his game and he has the potential to be a future Royal.”
Victoria’s final pick, 211th overall, was used to select defenceman Gabe Bast, older brother of Royals’ sixth round draft pick Luke Bast. The 1996-born blueliner is currently playing with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). During the regular season Bast collected 40 points (9g-31a) and 38 penalty minutes in 49 games. Currently participating in the RBC Cup, the 5-10, 185 lb defender has registered two goals and 10 assists for 12 points in 22 playoff contests.
“Gabe is an intelligent offensive defenceman that has exceptional puck handling skills, great vision and can defend well,” Pochipinski said.
The WHL Bantam Draft is an annual event in which the clubs of the Western Hockey League select players who have graduated from bantam. For the 2015 draft, players born in 2000 are eligible. The Draft order is determined by way of points in the regular season, with the exception of teams that missed the WHL Playoffs which are placed into a draft lottery for the first round only. With the exception of the lottery results in the first round, teams will select in order of fewest to most regular season points.
During the bantam draft, players from Western Canada and the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming are eligible to be selected.