The second last provincial camp is set to get underway beginning Friday, April 20 in Regina at the Cooperators Centre. The approximate 160 players will arrive in Regina at 11:30 AM and various meetings and presentations will take part during the afternoon. Game action will begin at 4:30 with Zone 8 taking on Zone 5.
In recent years Saskatchewan has had about 45 players drafted on average. That means about 5-6 players per team are likely to be selected. Here is a bit of a preview on what to watch at this weekends tournament.
One of the favorites entering the tournament has be the zone including players who played on one of the provinces powerhouse teams - Balgonie and players from Weyburn and Melville. Every single player on the defense core stand a good chance to be drafted. Among the group could be three second round draft picks.
In goal, the team boasts the 2nd and 3rd ranked goalies in terms of GAA in the SBAAHL. Braeden Pyne split time in Balgonie this year with Blade Roh and was somewhat over-shadowed. However, he went the entire regular season without a loss and posted a stellar 2.26 GAA to go with that 11-0-1 record. Chantz Vinck from Weyburn had a sparkling 1.95 GAA with 3SO and placed just behind Blade Roh in GAA in the overall league. Vinck is a small goalie still at just 126 lbs.
The Defense looks to be easily the best this tournament will have to offer as a whole. Ethan Bear (POE) will come over to join potential 2nd round picks from Balgonie in Brennan Riddle and Troy Murray. Even Armstrong from Melville is a 6'2 155 raw defenseman with good potential. Add in hard hitters from Weyburn in Drew Fellner and Nick Lenius and there really aren't any holes. Overall, there will be at least 4 draft picks from this group with Lenius and Armstrong possibly making it all 6.
The forward group is led by the top ranked forward in the province in Jayden Halbgewachs. We fully expect Jayden to be a high pick in the up coming bantam draft. Rykr Cole, Dakota Boutin, Donovan Neuls and Jesse Gabrielle give this group ample fire power. It will be interesting to see what Gabrielle can do in this tournament. Is he a first rounder? We will find out. There will be a minimum of 5 draft picks from this group.
Projected Draft Picks - 10
Top Picks (first 2 rounds) - 3 Jayden Halbgewachs, Ethan Bear, Brennan Riddle
This is a zone that comprises players from Regina. On paper, they really don't have much of a chance of competing for the title but do have some prospects that could be fairly high picks in a couple weeks.
A goalie that we will really be watching at this tournament is 5'11 160lb Logan Flodell. Flodell entered the year as one of the top goalies in Saskatchewan but has fallen off a bit as the season wore on. He posted a sub-par 4.33 GAA, placing him 17th in the league. On the other hand, 5'8.5 130lb Shaun Fleming had a very good year with the Regina Canucks.
The defense is led by Michael Eskra. Eskra led all SBAAHL in goals this season and is a very poised, offensive type defenseman. Jake Tesarowski is a skill defenseman who can play forward. He is somewhat undersized at 5'8 145lb but should garner a look come draft day. Billy Waronek is another defenseman we will be watching as he projects as a shut-down defender.
The forward group lacks star power with nobody projected to be drafted within the top few rounds this year. A few players to watch would be 5'7 160lb Arthur Miller who plays hard in all areas, competes hard and is a strong player for his size. Owen Sillinger is a 5'2 120 player with a late 97 birthday who likely won't get drafted but has good bloodlines. Sillinger's team-mate Conner Chaulk has some compete in him and could be a possible draft pick.
Projected Draft Picks - 4
Top picks (first 2 rounds) - Eskra (maybe)
This zone comprises of players from SW Saskatchewan. The majority of the players on this team come from the Swift Current and Moose Jaw bantam teams. On the surface, it looks like this will be another zone who doesn't stand much of a chance at winning Sask First but they do have some decent prospects.
Kyle Zinger is a goalie to watch heading in to Sask First. Zinger is a big goalie with good overall skills and went somewhat overshadowed this year.
The defense doesn't have anyone who is currently on our rankings but one player who could garner a look is 5'10 155lb Carter Doerksen who played this past season with Swift Current.
Up front Colton Adam from Swift Current bantam is a 6'0 140lb player who could still have more filling out to do and projects as a decent prospect. However, the kingpin of the entire squad is Regan Nagy who is from Ogema and played this year with Weyburn. Nagy has all the tools to be a top player and is a very smooth skating winger with excellent compete in his game. We think Nagy could be a top 2 round selection most definite and possibly slip in to the later part of the first round with a solid showing this weekend. After that, perhaps Bhody Magnusson from Moose Jaw could be a late round selection. Bhody works hard and leaves it all out there.
Projected Draft Picks - 3
Top Picks (first 2 rounds) - Regan Nagy
This zone is made up of players from the East-Central area of Saskatchewan. The squad is primarily made up of players who played with the Yorkton bantam team. This team is made up of several hard hitting defenseman and smallish forwards. Not a lot of draft picks on this team but a few could definitely surprise.
Matt Kustra entered the season as one of the highly touted goalies and a possible top 3 rounder. His play early on suffered but that could be due to the fact they were playing in a Midget AA league. As the season wore on, he got better and with a strong Sask First could re-cement himself as a top goalie for the draft.
The defense core features as many as 4 draft picks. Yorkton defenseman Turner Ottenbreit and Chance Patterson project as mid round selections. Patterson is a big 6'2.5 defenseman with a hard shot and huge upside while Ottenbreit is a mean defenseman who competes hard and has a good overall feel for the game. A pair of Notre Dame defenseman had very strong KIBIHT tournaments. Evan Werle is a tremendous skater and competed hard. His team-mate Hilderman showed some promise as well and could be a pick.
The forward group isn't as strong and really only has Tyler Kreklewich who played this past season with Melville as its only likely selection. Kreklewich's offensive production suffered a bit as he played on a 2nd line behind Neuls/Cole and Boutin in Melville.
Projected Draft Picks - 6
Top draft picks (first 2 rounds) - 0
This zone is made up of players from the out-laying areas of Saskatoon. This zone is perhaps the most diverse in that some of the players played "A" hockey, others in the GSHL and others in the SBAAHL. Overall, each position in Zone 5 is thin on depth but each have some highly rated players to watch.
The goalie to watch here is Sask Valley Vipers starter Connor Ingram. The 5'11 184lb Ingram was in the top 10 in GAA in the SBAAHL and had just 1 loss the entire season.
A defenseman who has climbed faster than almost any other this season is Sask Valley Vipers 6'2 170lb Evan Fiala. Fiala plays tough, competes hard and has some raw offensive skill, he should go in the top 3 rounds of the draft and some feel he could go as early as the early 2nd round. Logan Karakochuk from Humboldt is an offensive type defenseman who see's the ice extremely well.
Up front, Terrell Draude led all SBAAHL players in scoring with 54 goals and 94 points in 24 games. He can take over games at times. Strong shot, long reach and super hockey sense. I think WHL personal want him to improve his skating but his overall game and skill set should land him in the 2nd round. Drew Litwin from Humboldt had a very frustrating season, battling injury all year. He has great offensive skill and with a good Sask First, could cement himself as a mid round pick. Wyatt Sloboshan from Saskatoon is perhaps the top forward from the GSHL this year. Wyatt is a skill forward with leadership and great offensive awareness. Logan Schatz is a small shifty player with good skill and ability to pick up points consistently. Logan could be a draft pick if teams can overlook his 5'6 130lb frame.
Projected Draft Picks - 7
Top picks (first 2 rounds) - 3 (Evan Fiala, Terrell Draude, Wyatt Sloboshan(maybe))
Traditionally a very strong zone. This zone is made up of players from Saskatoon and has averaged at least 10 draft picks over the past 6 years. This years team may not touch that level though. Although we will see definitely 3 defenseman selected from this group, that forward group may not fair so well.
Both tenders are undersized and could easily be passed over. Brock Hamm is just 5'5 120lb while Swystun is 5'8 145 but has a late December birthday, making him almost a 98 born. Swystun was thought to have a decent chance at being drafted at the start of the season and still could be selected.
This zone features three defenseman would could all be top 3 round selections. The group is led by Top 10 overall rated Tate Olson. Olson doesn't have any holes in his game and some nights this year, played as much as 40 minutes. Olson has an offensive flair and is very steady in his own zone as well. Could be the first defenseman taken in the draft. Connor Hobbs is a 5'11 163lb defenseman who projects as more of a stay at home defenseman who I believe will still get much bigger. Tough has nails. Dustin Perillat is the 3rd of the big 3 dman and has a good offensive game.
This years group of forwards doesn't really come close to years of the past. The top rated forward on this zone would be 5'7 135lb Cameron Hebig. Hebig is one of the more skilled players from the province. Jimmy Lambert is a 5'2 100lb forward who likely will not be drafted due to being so small. He isn't 5'5 Brayden Point small, he is just 100lbs still. If Lambert were 5 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier, he would be a top 2-3 round pick. Very skilled and tremendous speed. Could be worth taking a late flyer on to see if he can grow a bit.
Projected Draft Picks - 8
Top picks (first 2 rounds) - 3 (Connor Hobbs, Tate Olson, Cameron Hebig(maybe))
This zone is made up of players from western Saskatchewan around Battlefords, Maidstone and Rosetown areas. Most of the players on this team played with Battlefords or West Central. Both teams were mid pack in the SBAAHL north this year.
Both goalies from this zone stand over 6'0 tall. We currently don't have either Malenfant or Kidd in our rankings but that is why Sask First can be such a key tournament. If either show well, they could be a selection. Kidd had a 4.46 GAA with West Central this season. Malenfant had a great 3.50 GAA and we'll be watching him closely.
The Defense is led by another of the provinces fast climbers in West Central defenseman Shane Collins. Many view Collins as a possible 1st round selection. We have him in the 2nd round. He is another defenseman who simply can do it all.
The offence features a few players who could be mid-round selections. Spencer Bast likely leads that crew though. Bast is a 5'10 155lb forward who will likely go lower than he should but does project as a possible dark horse scoring forward. Brandon Arnold, his team-mate from West Central has skill but is undersized. Keifer Hintz has fallen a bit this year but is a strong forward with good compete. Ryan Rothenburger, Layne Young and Brayden Uhrich could all be mid to late round picks. Uhrich plays with grit and toughness. Young is offensive and Rothenburger has really come on late in the season.
Projected Draft Picks - 7
Top draft picks (top 2 rounds) - 1 (Shane Collins)
Another of the favorites to win Sask First. Zone 8 is made up of players from NE Saskatchewan and features players from Prince Albert and defending Saskatchewan bantam champs North East Wolfpack.
Nik Amundrud is one of the top ranked goalies, if not the top rated goalie from Saskatchewan. He proved himself a bit at the westerns as he held his team in many of the games. Amundrud is a late birthday and is 5'11 145. He will look to establish himself as a possible 3rd to 4th rounder for draft day.
The defense boast as many as 3-4 draft picks we feel. Lochlan Morrison is a player with good bloodlines and plays with a good, raw complete game. Morrison we have a bit higher than most do and we think he could be a 3rd rounder. Bryce Fiske is as gritty as they come in this years draft. He takes no prisoners and his compete level is 2nd to none. Fiske is a bit undersized for a defenseman and really that is the only thing holding him back from being a very high pick. Matt Long is a hard hitter with good leadership and projects as a stay at home defenseman. Devin Gerwing was strong at westerns and could see a look.
This is a very deep group. The zone here is led by Matthew Campese who is a December birthdate. Campese has one of the hardest shots in Saskatchewan and possesses good speed. We think Matthew will land somewhere in the early 2nd round. Reed Gunville is a player with good skill and some grity. When he fills out, he could be a very good player. The team will have several of the North East Wolfpack players led by Caleb Seaman, Tristan Elder and Zac Paziuk. Elder is the most intriguing of the group to many as he has great raw offensive skill and has much more room to grow past 6'1 158. Paziuk has some big time skill and a good nose around the net. Seaman will need to have a big tournament to re-establish himself as a top 4 round selection. Grambo and Zary could also be late round selections.
Projected Draft Picks - 10
Top draft picks (first 2 rounds) - 2 (Matthew Campese, Tristan Elder(maybe))
10 Players to Watch for Various Reasons
D - Ethan Bear - Bear played this season on a stacked POE squad which featured as many as 4 players who will be taken in the top 2 rounds. As a result, Bear didn't see the ice time he was used to prior to moving to POE and perhaps didn't have quite the dominating season many thought he would. Bear remains a first or second round prospect for the draft but we want to see if he can dominant at a level to put him back in the first round. He has the talent to do so.
D - Tate Olson - A player that we have had somewhat limited viewing on. Just the way it worked out. However, Olson has shown all the tools to be the top defenseman in western Canada. He will need to dominate and be heads and shoulders above the rest to cement a top 6 selections where many feel he can land.
F - Jesse Gabrielle - Many are very anxious to see Gabrielle at Sask First. He played this year at Osseo Maple Grove Crimson HS in Minnesota due to family reasons. Gabrielle is a 5'11 180 scoring star who will need to prove his status as a top 2 round rated prospect. Gabrielle is from Moosomin, the same hometown as other top players Rykr Cole and Dakota Boutin who will also be watched closely.
F - Troy Murray - The brother of Everett Silvertip and likely top 5 overall NHL selection coming up this year Ryan Murray. Troy is a late birthday who like his brother, really seems to be getting better and better at a very fast rate. He may not have the offensive upside his brother has but has a lot of high end tools. It will be interesting to see if he can cement himself as a top 2 rounder.
G - Logan Flodell and G - Matt Kustra - Both goalies have all the tools to become top tenders down the road. Both have battled inconsistent play this year. We want to see if one of them can take the bull by the horns and rise to elite status like we believe they can.
D - Mike Eskra - High scoring blue-liner who is a big under-rated by some. He will be compared to Ethan Bear as both play similar styles. Eskra has a chance to be taken in the 2nd round as well with a good tournament.
F - Regan Nagy - Needs a strong Sask First and some dominant play to keep first round status. However, once again what will hurt him is that he plays on a team with not much else in terms of star talent to help him out.
D - Evan Fiala - Surged up the rankings late in the year and then had a sub-par KIBIHT tournament. We will look for Evan to return to his dominating self and regain his status as a top 2 round selection.
F - Spencer Bast - One of the dark horse players of the draft. He isn't likely to be selected in the top few rounds but has the skill to be a high end point producer. With a good tournament, he could open up some eyes.
F - Tristan Elder - Big forward with good skill for a player his size. Some have him as high as the first round, we are so sure yet. He will need to prove that type of status to his this weekend!
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