1998 Super Elite
The 1998 Super Elite group promises to be very competitive, highlighted by a few very strong squads. On paper, the Edmonton Mercurys look to be the favourites with the Jr. Steelers, Saskatoon Jr. Blades, Team Traktor (Minnesota), Vancouver Vipers and the Calgary Jr. Hitmen all fielding strong teams.
The Edmonton Mercurys feature as many as 6 potential 2013 WHL Bantam Draft first round talents. Kale Clague, who is ranked #1 currently in our latest rankings will anchor the defense core and he will be joined by AMBHL North Defenseman of the year, David Quenneville. Up front, Sam Steel, Tyler Benson, Jordan Taupert, Tyson Jost and Alex Rotundo give the Mercury's ample fire power. Carter Hart from Fort Saskatchewan will handle the goaltending duties for the most part. Carter is one goalie we'll be watching very closely next season.
The Jr. Steelers squad have a great chance to knock off the star studded Mercurys. The high end talent in Manitoba for the 1998 age group is the strongest it has been in recent memory and the Jr. Steelers feature most of the top players in the province. They will feature up 5 potential WHL Bantam Draft first round talents. Leading the way is Nolan Patrick, who is coming off an injury plagued rookie bantam year last season but has shown very strong so far in spring hockey and led the tournament last weekend in Winnipeg with 16 points in just 6 games. Brett Howden, the brother of former WHL 1st overall bantam draft pick Quinton Howden is another highly skilled forward who is amongst the best in western Canada. The offence doesn't stop there though, Dylan Thiessen has played aged advanced hockey in Manitoba for several years and has held his own and will add big time offence if he has healed from his injury in time. Tanner Kapstick who played aged advanced as well is a big time talent. The team also features perhaps the top goalie in the 98 age group in Ryan Kubic. Garrett Kuklica is a defenseman who will be closely watched and will be one of the first defenseman taken in the bantam draft.
Team Traktor from Minnesota is another team that will challenge for the championship as well. They are led by our #1 ranked prospect from south of the border in Joey Anderson. Anderson is a big time offensive talent who has a chance to lead the tournament in scoring. Kiefer Bellows, the son of former NHL star Brian Bellows, is a big time offensive talent who with Joey Anderson could really put up huge numbers in the tournament. Ryan Lindgren is one of the top defensive prospects in the 98 age group from the USA and will be one to watch.
The Saskatoon Jr. Blades have most of all the top 98 born players from the province of Saskatchewan. Traditionally the Jr. Blades are one of the favourites and are led by one of the top defenseman in the 98 age group in Nolan Reid. Reid played last season with the Balgonie Prairie Storm and held his own amongst the top dmen in the league as a first year player. Nolan is likely headed to Notre Dame for next season. Abrook, Reeve and Malainey are just a few of the other defenseman who will lead the Jr. Blades in what will be a defense first mentality. The offence is to be led by several good not great prospects led by Kolby Johnson, Elder, Ross, Lind and Borstmayer.
The Calgary Jr. Flames are loaded with most of the top Calgary and area prospects for next season. They are always a team to be taken very serious and this year will be no different. Defensively, Carter Cziakowksi, Ryely McKinstry and Kyle Yewchuk are the top three and we expect that they all have a chance at being top 2 round picks. Up front, Parker Aucoin and Matthew Phillips have really had a great spring and have led the squad in scoring at various tournaments. Kyle Dumba, the younger brother of Matthew Dumba is the go-to goalie and will be one of the top goalies to watch heading in to next season. Watch for '99 born Kyle Olson on the Jr. Flames as well as he continues to play aged advanced hockey.
The Vancouver Vipers are another team who has had a tremendous spring, winning most of the BC and area spring hockey tournaments. They are led defensively by a pair of BWC defenseman who should be 1st round selections in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft in Dante Fabbro and Matt Barberis. However, the team will be missing star forward Jaeger White due to injury so Dante Hannoun, Luke Gingras, Jake Kryski and Michael Regush will have to carry the load offensively. In goal, they are very solid with Tyler Shugrue who at this point is one of our top ranked goalies and has been stellar this spring.
The Vancouver Selects Blue are usually one of the favourites to win every tournament in the spring but they have to be considered a bit of an underdog in this one. They are led by several smallish, speedy forwards in Taylor Ward, Davis Koch and Kohen Olischefski. However the main go-to player has to be Beck Malentsyn who has really taken his game to the next level and keeps getting better and better. The defense is led by Wickman, Rizzolo and Khaira while Wilms and Kelleway will look to establish themselves as top goalies.
The rest of the 1998 Super Elite group will feature the Notre Dame Prospects, Red Army(Manitoba), Southern Alberta Selects Fusion, Manitoba Predators and DHI Octane Elite. We believe that these five teams would be considered long shots to win the tournament. The Notre Dame Prospects, SA Selects Fusion and the Manitoba Predators have some top prospects but not enough depth to compete with the big boys. It should be noted that we have not viewed the Ontario based DHI Octane Elite so they could finish anywhere really.
1. Edmonton Mercurys
2. Jr. Steelers
3. Team Traktor (Minnesota)
4. Vancouver Vipers
5. Calgary Jr. Flames
6. Saskatoon Jr. Blades
7. Vancouver Selects Blue
8. Notre Dame Prospects
9. Southern Alberta Selects Fusion
10. Manitoba Predators
11. Red Army
Not Ranked due to limited viewed....DHI Octane Elite
What to watch for?
Can Kale Clague cement himself as the top ranked defenseman heading in to the 2012-2013 season? Will Tyler Benson dominate the tournament scoring board, or will someone knock him off his perch? Who will emerge as a top prospect from this tournament and make scouts take notice? Can the Mercurys be knocked out by the Jr. Steelers, Team Traktor or the Vipers or will they roll through the tournament?
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