The Prince Albert Raiders will pick third overall in this year’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.
The Kootenay ICE won the draft lottery, held Wednesday at the WHL head office in Calgary, moving up from fourth to second.
The Raiders are in possession of the Prince George Cougars’ first round pick. They received the pick last year in a trade that saw the team acquire current defenceman Max Martin and the pick in exchange for defenceman Brendan Guhle.
Thanks to the Prince George, the Raiders will select third this year.
“We would have loved to win it again this year, but the great thing about western Canada is we produce great hockey players, and we’re getting ourselves a real good player at the number-three spot,” Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt said.
Last year, the Raiders won the draft lottery to leap over Kootenay for the first overall pick. With that selection, the team chose Brendan Guhle’s younger brother, Kaiden, also a defenceman.
This year, he had 14 goals and 25 assists in 35 games for OHA Edmonton Prep. He also dressed in eight games for the Raiders, picking up an assist and four penalty minutes.
The last time the Raiders picked third overall was 2012, when they selected Brendan Guhle.
Reflecting on that trade that sent Brendan to Prince George, Hunt said he’s happy to come out with a third-overall draft selection. “It’s part of the build we’re on.”
According to the WHL Bantam Draft database at dubnetwork.ca, the Raiders have picks in every round of the draft this year, except for rounds three and ten. However, they have two picks in round six. The team verified that data as correct.
Whomever the Raiders choose with that third pick, he’ll join the likes of fellow newcomers like Kaiden, defenceman Adam Herold and forward Ozzy Wiesblatt
“I do believe you have to develop your own. And i think we had excess picks which allowed us to make a move, which allowed us to advance our club this year,” Hunt said.
“We think we’re a good club now, and we’re about to embark on some great hockey here and some good experience for all of our guys.”
The year’s Bantam Draft will be held on May 3 in Red Deer, Alta.
With files from Evan Radford