The Prince Albert Raiders chose a pair of forwards with the 13th and 14th overall picks in the 2021 WHL Prospects draft.
The Raiders selected Saskatoon Blazers forward Cole Peardon with the 13th overall pick. Pearson has 16 points (4G, 12A) in 18 so far this season.
Raiders player personnel director Bruno Zarillo mentioned character as being a big part of their pick.
“He’s a big, strong power forward,” Zarillo said in a media release. “He plays a 200 foot game and he fits right in to the kind of team we want to build here. The number one thing we’re looking for is character. We believe we have that. We’re excited about our culture to develop these kids and make them into proud Raiders.”
With the very next pick in the draft, the Raiders went with another forward, taking Ryder Ritchie 14th overall. Ricthie has three points in three games with the Rink Hockey Academy U18 team in Kelowna. In 2020-21, he had 28 points in five games with the U15 squad. Zarillo saw a lot of promise in Ritchie, and was drawn to his focus in games.
“I saw a kid who’s eyes were so focused, so determined, and a kid that’s just going to be a player,” Zarillo said. “With what I saw in the summer when I saw him, and on video in past years, we’re really excited to have him, and we feel there’s a strong upside. Character, number one. Work ethic and commitment to the team and the program, we feel these guys check all the boxes.”
With the first overall pick in the draft, it was not surprising to see the Spokane Chiefs take Berkly Catton of the Saskatoon Contacts with the first overall pick. Catton touched on why he chose the WHL path to play junior hockey.
“So many great players have come out of the WHL,” Catton said. “It’s a great league for development, and I’m super excited to be a part of it.”
Prince Albert’s Ashton Tait was selected 26th overall by the Kamloops Blazers. A rookie on the Prince Albert Mintos this season, Tait is tied for the team lead in goals with 14. He has 22 points in 20 games so far this season.
Goaltender Jayden Kraus, another Minto, was selected as the first pick in the third round. He went 46th overall to the Victoria Royals. In 14 starts this year, Kraus has a 2.22 GAA and a .929 SV% with one shutout.