By Andrew Eide
The Seattle Thunderbirds' brass found themselves in Calgary on Thursday for the annual WHL Bantam Draft. The draft is the best way that WHL teams build their roster as they select the top 1999-born players from Western Canada and United States. The T-Birds had the 16th pick in this year's draft and on the day ended up making 10 picks as they build for the future.
Unlike the NFL Draft, where players can make an impact the following year, WHL teams usually pick up the best player available as these players won't be eligible to join their team's full time for another year. On the day Seattle selected seven forwards, two defenseman and one goaltender.
Here is a break down of Seattle's picks.
First round (16th overall): Jarret Tyszka - Defense, Langley, B.C.
For the second straight draft the T-Birds went with a defenseman from British Columbia. Last year it was Dante Fabbro, this time Tyszka from Langley. Tyszka is a big player, listed over six-feet tall all ready and put up big numbers with Langley last year. Playing in 68 games, he potted 27 goals while chipping in with 47 assists.
Reports indicate that he can move the puck well for his size and has the defensive prowess to develop into a shut-down type of player as well. With the potential of other T-Birds defensive prospects, this pick could help Seattle keep a solid defensive corps for a long time.
Second round (38th overall): Matthew Wedman - Left Wing, Edmonton, AB
Wedman is another player who is over six-foot tall at only 15 and will continue the Seattle tradition of big forwards. He has some WHL pedigree as his older brother Cole has played the past three seasons with the Spokane Chiefs. Matthew Wedman played in 33 games last year with the South Side Athletic Club and scored 32 goals with 40 assists. He also potted three goals in the Alberta Cup last year, playing for Edmonton South.
Fifth Round (102nd overall): Wyatt Bear - Right Wing, Hodgson, Manitoba
Seattle picked up another big forward in the fifth round (Seattle had no picks in third or fourth round due to past trades) with the pick up of Bear. Bear hails from Manitoba, is no relation to current T-Birds defenseman Ethan Bear, and had 51 points for for the Interlake Lightning of the Winnipeg Bantam Division.
Fifth Round (104th overall): Ian Briscoe - Center, Winnipeg, Manitoba
The T-Birds dipped into the Manitoba pool for the second time in the fifth round by picking up Briscoe. Described as a highly-skilled player, the 5'8" Briscoe scored 25 goals last year. He is the first player of this year's draft selected by Seattle that is listed as under six-feet tall.
Sixth Round (126th overall): Baker Shore - Forward, Cherry Hills, CO
The first U.S. born player taken by the Seattle was Baker Shore from the Colorado Thunderbirds. Seattle has had luck with Colorado Thunderbirds as Danny Mumaugh and Scott Eansor are two current players who also came from that program. Shore is also described as a highly-skilled player and managed 72 points in 73 games last year. He also has NHL pedigree as he has three older brothers who were drafted by NHL clubs (Drew to Florida in 2009, Nick by Los Angeles in 2011 and Quentin by Ottawa in 2013). The T-Birds are hoping he carries on the family tradition.
Seventh Round (148th overall): MacKenzie Wight - Right Wing, Burnaby, B.C.
The T-Birds took Wight from the Burnaby Winter Club, a Bantam program that also produced Mathew Barzal and Dante Fabbro. Wight is another player with good size and has been described as a power forward.
Eighth Round (170th overall): Reece Harsch - Defense, Grand Prairie, AB
Listed at 6'2" and 165 pounds Harsch projects to be a big, physical shut-down defenseman that Seattle likes to have patrolling their back end.
Ninth Round (192nd overall): John Ormsby - Forward, Monroe, WA
Seattle took a local player in Ormsby with their first pick in the ninth round. Ormsby played for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings last year which is one of the top Bantam programs in the United States. It has produced players such as Bobby Ryan and Winnipeg Jets prospect, Eric Comrie. Ormsby is reportedly a fast skater and should be a home-town favorite in Kent.
Ninth Round (193rd overall): Reginald Pohl - Right Wing, Douglas, Manitoba
The T-Birds took their third Manitoba player with their second pick in the ninth round by taking the big, physical Pohl. Listed at 6'2" tall, Pohl had 20 points with the Southwest Cougars.
Tenth Round (214th overall): Hunter Bancroft - Goalie, Greeley, CO
The T-Birds finished off their draft day by taking their first goalie as they selected another Colorado Thunderbirds player. Greeley played with Baker Shore and joins Mumaugh as former Colorado goalies in Seattle's system.
As stated, none of these players are eligible to join the T-Birds next season but most should be at training camp in August, giving you a look at what the future holds for T-Birds hockey.
Follow Andrew Eide on Twitter @andyeide.