Raiders send five prospects to WHL Cup

Prince Albert Raiders first overall draft pick Kaiden Guhle scrimmages with the team during training camp action at the Art Hauser Centre. Lucas Chudleigh/Submitted by Apollo Multimedia

The Prince Albert Raiders will be well-represented at this year’s WHL Cup in Calgary: Five of the team’s prospects have been chosen to represent their respective provinces at the annual under-16 tournament.

Kaiden Guhle and Ozzy Wiesblatt will try to help team Alberta win its fourth consecutive gold medal at the tournament, formerly known as the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup.

The Raiders selected Guhle first overall in the 2017 bantam draft; Wiesblatt was taken 25th overall, in the second round of the draft by the club.

Raiders’ director of player personnel Ron Gunville said that Guhle should be an immediate contributor for his side.

“He’s an elite player for his age group. He brings a good mix of offence and defence, and he’s one of the best skaters I’ve seen,” Gunville said.

“Ozzy is an elite, skilled player who works hard to be a good player and a good goal scorer,” he noted.

Gunville predicted that Alberta will rely on Wiesblatt for his scoring prowess, as it seeks to repeat as tournament champs.

Fellow second-round draftee Jakob Brook (taken 40th overall) will look to help his team Manitoba push into the tournament’s final this year, and best his team’s bronze medal finish from 2016. Centre Evan Herman will join Brook on the central prairie team.

Davin Griffin is the lone Raider representing team Saskatchewan. A native of Regina, Griffin will look to help his team earn a medal, after it lost the bronze medal game to Manitoba last year.

Gunville described Griffin as a top-end goal scorer in his age group in the province.

“He has pure goal scoring ability … but the defensive part of his game needs a lot of work,” Gunville said, citing the player’s back-checking skills as an example.

Had it not been for injuries, the Raiders would be sending seven prospects to the tournament: Saskatoon-born Cohner Saleski was selected 17th overall by the Raiders and had made the shortlist for team Saskatchewan; Langley-born Braydon Clark had been shortlisted for team B.C. The Raiders selected Clark 47th overall in the third round.

The round-robin tournament, which features under-16-aged players from Canada’s four western provinces, begins Wednesday, Oct. 18 at the Markin MacPhail Centre on the west side of Calgary.

It continues through to Sunday, Oct. 22 with the tournament final.