Holding the fourth overall pick, the Brandon Wheat Kings went into Thursday’s Western Hockey League bantam draft in Calgary expecting to land a potential franchise player.
It turns out they got two.
The Wheat Kings used their own pick on Winnipeg Hawks forward Nolan Patrick, then traded up to nab record-setting Alberta defenceman Kale Clague with the sixth-overall selection. Both players were considered by some scouts to be candidates to go as high as second in a draft loaded with top talent.
"We’re absolutely thrilled to be able to select two players that … on any given year might be the first pick overall," Wheat Kings owner/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "For us it’s a pretty rare opportunity to put two players on our team together that are that elite in their age group."
The additions came at a price. To move up to sixth, the Wheat Kings sent the Lethbridge Hurricanes 20-year-old goalie Corbin Boes and the 17th pick, which Brandon had acquired in the trade deadline deal that sent Mike Ferland to Saskatoon. The Wheat Kings also traded 18-year-old forward Geordie Maguire of Winnipeg and a third-rounder to the Regina Pats for draft considerations, which were in essence an agreement that the Pats would not take Patrick second overall.
It paid off as the Wheat Kings landed Patrick, who was equally pleased with the outcome.
"I had no idea they were picking me going into the draft, but that’s probably where I wanted to end up," said Patrick, whose father Steve starred for the Wheat Kings in the late 1970s and early ’80s before going on to play in the NHL. "It’s close to home and my dad played there, so I’m really excited to go there."
Praised by McCrimmon for his leadership skills, the 6-foot-2, 172-pound Patrick can also score like crazy, notching 33 goals and leading the Winnipeg AAA Bantam Hockey League with 75 points in only 19 games.
After the Moose Jaw Warriors used the fifth pick on Oakbank’s Brett Howden, Brandon snapped up Clague, a 5-foot-11, 173-pound member of the Lloydminster Heat who broke Dion Phaneuf’s Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League scoring record for defencemen with 35 goals and 77 points in 33 games.
"I’ve been talking to (Patrick) pretty well all day and we’re both really excited about the opportunity that we’re going to get with Brandon," said Clague, who like all of the players in the draft won’t be eligible to play full time in the WHL until the 2014-15 season. "We’re both honoured getting picked in Brandon. We think it’s going to be a good place to play. Lots of hard work to make the team and hopefully some day we’ll be a good key to their success."
The Wheat Kings’ good fortune didn’t end there. With their second-round selection they chose Brandon forward Tanner Kaspick, followed by another homegrown forward, Ty Lewis, in the third round.
"One of the considerations we had when we were moving from 17 to six is we felt that it might cost us the opportunity to draft Tanner Kaspick," McCrimmon said. "That’s right around where we thought he would be selected, so we’re really pleased that he was there at 25."
After using their fourth-rounder on defenceman T.J. Brown, who had 16 goals and 32 points in 33 Bantam AAA games for his team in Red Deer Alta., the Wheat Kings came back to Manitoba in the fifth round, taking Winnipeg Monarchs forward Dylan Thiessen. Thiessen paced the Winnipeg Bantam AAA league with 50 goals in 30 games and was graded as a second-round talent by scouts the Sun spoke with before the draft.
Brandon chose 12 players (born in 1998) in the draft — eight forwards and four defencemen — with eight of them being Manitobans.
Also drafted by the Wheat Kings were:
• One of Patrick’s Hawks teammates, forward Linden McCorrister (seventh round).
• Minnesotan Ryan Lindgren (eighth round), who is very talented but has verbally committed to play at the University of Minnesota.
• Another Minnesotan in forward Joey Anderson (ninth round).
• Grandview’s Branden Storey (10th round), of the Parkland Bantam AAA Rangers.
• Bennett Dalke (10th round), a Pembina Valley Bantam AAA Hawks forward from La Salle.
• Boissevain forward Braden Billaney (11th round) of the Southwest Bantam AAA Cougars.
1. Vancouver, LW Tyler Benson, 5-11, 180 pounds, Edmonton SSAC Bantam AAA Lions
2. Regina, C Sam Steel, 5-10, 156, Sherwood Park (Alta.) Bantam AAA Flyers
3. Prince George, D Josh Anderson, 6-2, 190, Cowichan Valley (B.C.) Bantam AAA Capitals
4. Brandon, RW Nolan Patrick, 6-2, 172, Winnipeg Bantam AAA Hawks
5. Moose Jaw, LW Brett Howden, 6-1, 189, Eastman Midget AAA Selects
6. Brandon, D Kale Clague, 5-11, 173, Lloydminster (Alta.) Bantam AAA Heat
7. Everett, RW Tyson Jost, 5-9, 169, POE (Kelowna, B.C.) Bantam AAA
8. Seattle, D Dante Fabbro, 6-0, 170, BWC (Burnaby, B.C.) Bantam AAA Bruins
9. Kootenay, LW Jared Legien, 6-2, 184, Prairie Storm (Sask.) Bantam AAA
10. Medicine Hat, D David Quenneville, 5-7, 175, Edmonton SSAC Bantam AAA Lions
11. Victoria, C Dante Hannoun, 5-5, 140, NSWC (N. Vancouver) Bantam AAA Winterhawks
12. Swift Current, C Tyler Steenbergen, 5-10, 160, Red Deer (Alta.) Bantam AAA Rebels White
13. Prince Albert, C Jake Kryski, 5-11, 155, BWC Bantam AAA Bruins
14. Red Deer, C Jeff de Wit, 6-2, 175, Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels Black
15. Tri-City, C Parker Aucoin, 6-0, 176, Calgary Northstar Bantam AAA Sabres
16. Spokane, D Jeffrey Faith, 6-2, 168, Notre Dame (Wilcox, Sask.) Bantam AAA Hounds
17. Lethbridge, G Stuart Skinner, 6-3, 189, Edmonton SSAC Bantam AAA Lions
18. Calgary, C Beck Malenstyn, 6-0, 160, OHA (Penticton, B.C.) Bantam AAA Red
19. Kamloops, RW Quinn Benjafield, 6-0, 150, NSWC Bantam AAA Winterhawks
20. Vancouver, D Matt Barberis, 5-10, 172, BWC Bantam AAA Bruins
21. Kelowna, C Dillon Dube, 5-8, 155, Notre Dame Bantam AAA Hounds
22. Seattle, RW Kaden Elder, 5-9, 160, Notre Dame Bantam AAA Hounds