By Andrew Eide
A day after signing the 2012 top pick in Matt Barzal, the Seattle Thunderbirds selected 10 new players Thursday in the WHL Bantam Draft. Overall they picked up three defensemen, six forwards and one goalie.
The Bantam Draft is a bit of a crapshoot since these players are still very young and you never know exactly how they will develop, but the Thunderbirds should feel like they've added some good players for the future. Seattle had three picks in the top 30 selections of what was considered by most observers to be one of the deeper drafts in recent memory.
Seattle started off by selecting defenseman Dante Fabbro with the eighth pick. Fabbro played his hockey last year with the Burnaby Winter Club in B.C. If that club sounds familiar it's because it's the same club that Barzal played for when Seattle selected him. Fabbro and Barzal appear to be great friends and the two took to Twitter to exclaim their excitement about being reunited.
There had been whispers in the days leading up to the draft that the Thunderbirds might be looking to trade up to take Fabbro as they weren't sure he would still be there when their pick came up. Luckily they did not have to give up any picks to get their guy. Fabro is described as an offensive defensemen and was considered one of the top defensive prospects in the draft.
Seattle had another first-round pick at the end of the round (No. 22) and they used that selection to pick up center Kaden Elder, who played for the Notre Dame Hounds bantam club. Elder can score but scouts also praised his two-way game, something that head coach Steve Konowalchuk demands of all his players. Last year Elder put up 64 points in only 33 games.
In the second round the team selected another forward in Nolan Volcan from Edmonton, Alberta. Volcan can score as well as he potted 40 goals and 76 points in only 32 games for the Edmonton MLAC Bantam AAA team last year.
The Thunderbirds did not have another pick until the fifth round due to trades they had made last year. Seattle began picking again in that round and kept going all the way through the 12th round. In those rounds they selected defenseman Brandon Schuldhaus from Alberta, forward Jagger Williamson from B.C., winger Spencer Hunter from Vancouver, forward Colton Thomas from B.C., defenseman Shavan Khaira from Okanagan, goalie Devon Fordyce and center Caleb Griffin from Saskatchewan.
Fordyce is an interesting player as he has already appeared in the WHL. He was a listed player with the Prince George Cougars and appeared in four games with them last year. The Cougars had dropped them from their list, which made him eligible to be drafted again in the round after he had originally been selected.
The Bantam Draft is unlike the NFL or NBA draft in that it is hard to judge how well the team did with its selections. Their first three picks were all highly ranked by the scouts who watch these kids as they come up the ranks and now we'll have to wait and see how they develop. Based on the reports the T-Birds should feel good with the guys they picked up and with the later-round picks have added a lot of depth to their list.
You will get your first glimpse of them as training camp opens on August 22 and the ones that stand out could be with the club the following year.
Follow Andrew on twitter at @andyeide