-Primarily made up of players from the St. Albert and Spruce Grove teams.
The offence is led by Matteo Gennaro, Ethan Lazaro and Conner Lukan. The 6'0 159lb Gennaro led all Northwest zone scorers in the AMBHL regular season with 23-21-44 in 31 games. His St. Albert team-mates Lazaro and Curtis Peck will be watched closely as well. Spruce Grove forwards Conner Lukan and Justin Jacobsen are a pair of 5'9 forwards who each bring something different. Lukan had a team high 27 goals this season which was 13 more than 2nd place finisher Justin Jacobsen. Jacobsen had the 2nd most PIMS in the entire AMBHL with 136 this season.
The defense could very well be the zones strong suit, featuring as many as 5 drafts picks coming up on May 3. The core is led by Mark Matsuba who was amongst the defenseman scoring leaders in the AMBHL as well as big 6'2 Dylan Overdyk and Tyson Helgensen from POE. Helgensen may have been a bit over-shadowed this year playing on such a talented defense core in POE.
Patrick Dea is one of the highest ranked goalies for the entire bantam draft. Big things will be expected from Patrick. The 5'10 Dea had a fantastic .920 save percentage this season.
Potential Draft Picks - Minimum of 7
- Primarily made up of players from Sherwood Park, Lloydminster and Carmose teams.
The offence is led by a pair or potential 2nd round rated prospects in Lloydminster sniper Andrew Koep and Camrose 6'2 Curtis Miske. Koep was one of just 3 AMBHL players to top 40 goals this season along with Merkley and Estephan. While Miske is intriguing due to his size and raw offensive ability. Miske put up 45 points in 33 games and led all Camrose scorers. Grayson Pawlenchuk is another who will be watched but was a bit up and down this season. Pawlenchuk is from Sherwood Park.
The defense core is led by a trio of Sherwood Park players who all have a decent chance of going in the top 2-3 rounds. Brendan Guhle is perhaps the best of them all though and he continues to get better and better and is being talked about as a very possible first round pick. Cameron Reagan is an offensive defenseman that could be one of the better at his trade in Alberta while Jordan Boulton is a smooth skating stay at home defenseman that scouts are really going to want to watch closely as he is being rated all over the map.
Zachary Klassen is just one of 4 goalies with over a .920 save percentage in the AMBHL this year.
Potential Draft Picks - Minimum of 6
- This is a team made of players primarily from Fort Saskatchewan, Edmonton CAC and , Edmonton KC Edmonton MLAC hockey clubs.
An offence with quite a bit of talented is highlighted by the players from the CAC program. Dylan Stewart, Brayden Burke, Cole Gammer, Andrew Marshall and Matt Dykstra all have a good chance at being drafted. PJ Morrocco, Joseph Nardi and Anthony Siranni all had decent seasons with their respective teams. However, the group is highlighted by Stewart who is a 6'0 170 forward with seemingly all the tools and we think he should be gone within the first 3 rounds. Brayden Burke and Andrew Marshall are very talented pure offensive talents to watch.
The defense has 7 players listed on it with the smallest being 5'10 160 Pinchuk. Justin Greer, Aaron Kellogg, Kole Bryks, Clayton Eisler all have a great chance at being drafted. Greer and Kellogg are two that will be watched closely to see if they can get in to the top 3 rounds. Aaron Kellogg is a player who played on such a bad team this season in Fort Saskatchewan and a good Alberta Cup could really help his cause. Greer is a 6'1 200lb player with size and offensive ability already.
Eric Szudor is a 6'2 goalie who played a stuggling Edmonton KC team and is someone who we would like to see in terms of placing. He faced over 40 shots most nights and kept his team in many games. Tyler Kwiatkowski from Edmonton CAC had a bit of an up and down season but could still garner a look on draft day.
Potenial draft picks - Mininum of 9
- Team made up of players from Edmonton SSAC and Leduc hockey clubs.
Just two Leduc representatives on the squad in Tristan Starzynski and Justin Young. Both players were 20+ goal scorers and Justin Young has become a prospect who could make some major noise on draft day in terms of climbing way up. The zone though is easily highlighted by top 6 rated prospect for the bantam draft in SSAC and AMBHL leading scorer Giorgio Estephan. Estephan led all AMBHL scorers this year in goals and points and we project him as a top 6 selection on May 3rd.
The defense is fairly small and doesn't feature many potential draft selections. Devon Brooks from SSAC though has really come on as the season has progressed and will be a player to watch. Zac Smith is another defenseman to watch, he played with MLAC this season and went a bit un-noticed.
6'0 184lb Brandon Kegler had a great season and could vault up the draft rankings with a solid Alberta Cup.
Potential Draft picks - Minimum of 5
- Players from Red Deer, Leduc, Airdrie represnted. Probably the most diverse rural team.
The offence is led by 5'7 149lb Matt Fonteyne who played the season with Leduc. Fonteyne had 29 goals and 51 points. Chase Olsen who is from Olds but played the season with Red Deer White had over a point per game and could be drafted. We will be watching Olsen pretty closely. Chandler Klein of Lloydminster had a successful season as well. Andrew Perry is a 5'10 200lb forward who has some good tools. The offence doesn't have any true high end talents however.
The defense is led by Gordon Ballhorn who played with Leduc this past season and gritty Jesse Freeborn who played with Red Deer. Freeborn and Ballhorn should be go somewhere in the 4-6 round range. A bit more was expected of Freeborn this year and a good Alberta Cup could really help his cause.
Travis Child is the teams top rated/ranked player heading in to the bantam draft. The big 6'2 Child is ranked in our top 3 goalies for the entire draft and should go in the 2nd round somewhere.
Projected draft picks - 4 minimum
- Made up of players from the bottom two Calgary teams this year, the Northstar Sabres and Bronks.
The offence has some talent but none that are likely to go in the top 3 rounds of the draft. The highest ranked players and ones to watch would be Mark Rassell and Zac Whitby from the Bronks along with Jordan Xavier and Austin Wagner from the Sabres. Rassell, Whitby and Xavier were all near 30 goals this season but are all fairly small which may hold them back a bit. A player who isn't small at all is 6'2 Hudson Elynuik who projects as a good 3rd line power forward type in the WHL and should go in the mid rounds as well.
Austin Strand is a big, strong defenseman who can add in a bit of offence. He is one of the true darkhorses of the draft to move way up, much higher than we have him. Another dman WHL scouts will be watching is Shane Bear. Bear is another with loads of potential who seems to yet to have hit his peak.
Riley Morris of the Calgary Bronks should be drafted and with a good Alberta Cup could sneak in to the 4th-5th round range.
Projected draft picks - 8 minimum
- Team that is made up of the top two teams from Calgary. The Calgary Bisons and the Calgary Royals make up the team.
It doesn't get much better than Nick Merkley in terms of offence in the entire WHL bantam draft this season. Merkley was one of the highest scoring players in the AMBHL and is one of the most dynamic players in the draft and will go in the top 6. Braylon Shmyr who is Merkley's team-mate with the Bisons has speed and skill to burn as well and should go somewhere in the 2nd round. Tyler Rohl and the Royals captain Cameron Anklewich are a could others to watch closely this weekend. Kelton Driedger is another who came on and got stronger as the season progressed.
All of the players on the defense core have a good chance at being drafted and are all very similar in size and stature. The group could very well be led by Bradley Forrest of the Calgary Bisons who has been a fast riser this season. Savi Scalise of the Royals has been consistent all season long.
Both Morrissey and Sawchenko were selected by the zone as the goalies. Sawchenko put up record breaking numbers this season with a 1.47 GAA and a .944 save percentage. Sawchenko could go in the top 2 rounds of the bantam draft.
Potential draft picks - minimum of 8
- Team made up of players who played with Airdrie, Medicine Hat, Okotoks and Lethbridge.
Last seasons AMBHL rookie of the year Mason McCarty had a very quiet season but remains the most prolific scorign threat from this zone. He had 22 goals and 39 points in just 23 games which were very good totals playing for Okotoks. McCarty's team-mate and converted defenseman Eric Theander is also on the team and did well this season. Chase Bell from Lethbridge, Mitch Hallas from Medicine Hat and Chad Harrison along with Kris Leclair from Airdrie are some others to watch.
The defense core is led by pure game Tristan Thompson who played with Airdrie and can be very nasty.
Ryan Ternes of Aidrie could garner some consideration as a draft pick next Thursday with a strong tournament. Ternes did well in KIBIHT and will look to carry that play forward.
Potential draft picks - minimum of 3
Things to watch/consider
The Top two forwards in Alberta with Estephan and Merkley. Will one out-shine the other?
Can a defenseman rise as Guhle has risen this year?
Who will open up the WHL scouts eyes more between Sawchenko, Dea and Child? All three are ranked within the top 5 overall goalies in the entire draft!
With just 3 projected AMBHL players to go in the first round, the lowest number in many years...can anyone vault up and join the elite?
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