Guhle and Schneider top WHL skaters in mid-season NHL Central Scouting rankings

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Kaiden Guhle and Regina Pats forward Robbie Holmes keep an eye on the puck at the Art Hauser Centre earlier this season.

Wiesblatt also makes top 15 among North American skaters

Local hockey fans have a pair of Western Hockey League blueliners to keep a close eye as the 2020 NHL Draft draws closer.

Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Kaiden Guhle and Prince Albert product Braden Schenider, who suits up for the Brandon Wheat Kings, were ranked sixth and seventh respectively among all skaters in North America by NHL Central Scouting in their mid-season rankings that came out Monday morning.

The duo were the top rated players from the WHL and trailed only third-ranked Jamie Drysdale of the OHL’s Erie Otters among defenceman.

Guhle, who was the first overall pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, leads all blueliners on the Raiders in scoring this season with 25 points in 43 games.

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Prince Albert product Braden Schneider prepares to make a pass for the Brandon Wheat Kings during a game against the Prince Albert Raiders at the Art Hauser Centre in November.

Schneider, who is a late 2001-birthday, is tied for ninth in defensive scoring in the WHL with 29 points in 39 contests.

The 18-year-old also had the chance to attend Hockey Canada’s World Junior selection camp in December but just missed out on making the final roster for the eventual gold medalists.

He also the highest ranked player from Saskatchewan, with Kamloops Blazers forward and Saskatoon product Connor Zary coming in 12th.

Raiders forward Ozzy Wiesblatt also impressed those with NHL Central Scouting as he was ranked 14th in North American skaters.

He is second in team scoring with 46 points in 43 games and will be joining Guhle and Schneider at the CHL Top Prospects Game in Hamilton, Ont. on Thursday.

The Raiders were also represented by first-year forward Ilya Usau and rookie blueliner Landon Kosior, who came in at 63rd and 126th respectively.

Usau is tied for fourth with Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs in WHL rookie scoring with 32 points in 37 games, while Kosior is tied with Christoffer Sedoff of the Red Deer Rebels for the fourth most points among first year blueliners in the league with 15 markers in 43 games.

Rhett Rhinehart, who was a first round pick by the Raiders in 2016 and was acquired by the Saskatoon Blades on Thursday from the Prince George Cougars, was ranked 111th overall.

The 18-year-old blueliner has 15 points in 38 games in his third WHL campaign.

Former Raiders forward Jakob Brook, who has nine points in 38 games this season and was dealt to the Regina Pats on Thursday as part of the Max Paddock trade, was ranked 171st.

One-time Prince Albert Mintos forward Josh Pillar, who has 23 points in 40 games this year for the Blazers, came in at 131st.

World Juniors MVP Alexis Lafreniere of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic was the top North American skater, with Quinton Byfield of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves just behind the projected first overall pick.

Nico Daws of the OHL’s Guelph Storm, who was passed over at the last two drafts, is the top ranked North American netminder.

Brock Gould, who was acquired by the Moose Jaw Warriors on Thursday as part of a blockbuster deal with the Victoria Royals that included Anaheim Ducks forward Brayden Tracey, led the way among WHL goaltenders in fourth spot.

The top ranked European skater and goaltender were Germany’s Tim Stutzle and Russia’s Yaroslav Askarov.