Raiders select Daxon Rudolph, Riley Boychuk with top two selections in 2023 WHL Prospects Draft

Photo courtesy of the Prince Albert Raiders. Daxon Rudolph (pictured) was the first overall pick of the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft by the Prince Albert Raiders

For the first time since 2017, the Prince Albert Raiders were on the clock with the first overall pick in the WHL Prospects Draft.

The Raiders selected Daxon Rudolph, a defenseman from the Northern Alberta Extreme U15 Prep program. In 50 games with the Xtreme, Rudolph posted 17 goals and 33 assists in 50 games. He posted 12 points in 5 playoff games.

“(It) feels good.” Rudolph said after being selected. “It is something I’ve been working towards my whole life. Every kid in Western Canada dreams to go to the WHL and to be the first overall pick is really honoring and really exciting.”

The pick used to select Rudolph was acquired by Prince Albert back on Dec. 1, 2021, in a trade that sent then Raider captain Kaiden Guhle to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a blockbuster package that also included a first-round pick in 2021 (Prince Albert selected Cole Peardon with that selection), along with Eric Johnston and Carson Latimer.

Rudolph says he is excited to join the Raiders program in Prince Albert who have developed several defensemen into NHL talents in recent years including Kaiden Guhle, Josh Morrisey and Brayden Pachal.

“It’s a place every defenseman should want to be and that’s really where I want to be. Kaiden Guhle, obviously a really good defenseman, fun to watch on TV and someone I look up to, I hope I can be a role model like he was in Prince Albert, and he still is so I’m excited to get to work and hopefully continue to follow in his footsteps. Being the pick that they traded him for is really amazing and super proud and really exciting.”

According to Rudolph, Raider fans can expect to see him contributing offensively when he is eligible to become a full time player in the lineup in the 2024-2025 season.

“I consider myself an offensive defenseman who can move well, move the puck well and the biggest strength of my game is my hockey IQ. Being able to see the ice really helps me make plays and I love chipping in offensively, setting up my teammates to score the goals. It’s really fun chipping in offensively and helping the boys get the win.”

It was the first time in franchise history that Prince Albert held the second overall selection. The Raiders would use the second pick to select Riley Boychuk, a forward from the Airdrie Xtreme U15 AAA. Boychuk posted 18 goals and 62 assists in 33 games.

“It is obviously a very exciting day for not just me, but my whole family and friends.” Boychuk said about selection.  “I’m grateful that the Raiders organization drafted me. I can hopefully become part of their team one day. It was a great day and I’m lucky to get drafted by such a good organization. It’s something that you dream of when you’re a little kid. It’s a big dream come true.”

With Raider training camp not beginning until the fall, Boychuk says he is excited for the opportunity to introduce himself to the community when he finally makes the journey to Hockeytown North.

“I’m looking forward to it a lot because it’s going to be really cool. The Raiders have a bunch of highly skilled players and people that I’m looking forward to meeting. They had a really good draft today. It’s going to be cool to meet everybody, meet the rest of the staff, meet the fans, and just meet Prince Albert, which will be cool when it comes training camp.”

The Raiders used their final first round selection, seventh overall, to draft winger Ty Meunier of the St. Albert U15 AAA Sabres.  Meunier had 54 goals and 34 assists in 32 games with the Sabres. He also added three goals and six assists in eight playoff games.