2016 NHL Draft Preview: Bean heads WHL group that could have light first round presence

By Glen Erickson

Dillon Dube - Kelowna Rockets

Photo: Kelowna Rockets forward and 2016 prospect Dillon Dube improved his point total from 2014-15 to 2015-16 by 39 points, going from 17 goals and 27 points in 2014-15 to 26 goals and 66 points this past season (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

 

7. Sam Steel, C, Regina Pats

Sam Steel arrived in the WHL to some degree in the large shadow cast by Benson. Both players ran roughshod over opponents throughout central Alberta during their bantam draft year, dominating the score sheets. Steel is perhaps the most purely skilled forward among those in our ranking.

At 5’11” and 175 pounds, Steel is not as physically imposing as Howden or Benson, but he has the ability to set the tone in the attacking zone with his puck skills, vision and creativity. He appeared in all 72 regular season games with the Regina Pats, scoring 23 goals and adding 47 assists.

8. Dillon Dube, C, Kelowna Rockets

At 5’10” and 180 pounds, Dillon Dube is a thick, speedy forward with very good vision and puck skills. On occasion, Dube appears as though he is capable of doing it all at high speed with a heavy shot and quick release. He can be rambunctious, creating open space for his linemates.

From Cochrane, Alberta, Dube responded well this season to high expectations with 26 goals and 40 assists in 65 games. His scoring exploits were vital in Kelowna as the Rockets spent much of the past season without Rourke Chartier (SJS) and Nick Merkley (ARI) in the lineup. His penchant for physical play could vault him ahead of Steel.

9. Josh Mahura, D, Red Deer Rebels

Much like Benson, Josh Mahura had a tough time this past season, appearing in only two regular season games due to a knee injury and subsequent surgery. It is reminiscent of the experience Morgan Rielly endured during his draft season, when similar circumstances limited him to 17 games. Still, the former Moose Jaw Warrior rearguard was selected early in the first round and has become a stalwart with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

While Mahura does not yet possess the same skill set and pedigree as did Rielly, he has been under the watchful eyes of Hockey Canada for some time and has been effective internationally. He was fit enough to appear in 17 postseason games with the Red Deer Rebels, and another four games at the Memorial Cup. He shoots well and moves with speed and good balance. He earned an invitation to the NHL Combine. The 6’, 170-pound Mahura could become an Draft Day surprise in Buffalo.

10. Noah Gregor, C, Moose Jaw Warriors

After a strong first half, where Noah Gregor put forth notable performances in both defending and attacking zones, he especially made scouts take notice with his early season performances in short-handed situations. His production was important in Moose Jaw while star center Brayden Point (TBL) nursed a shoulder injury.

Listed at 6’ and 178 pounds, Gregor is from Beaumont, Alberta. He appeared in all 72 games this past season, scoring 28 goals and adding 45 assists. He was also a late addition to Team Canada for the U18 World Championship in Grand Forks.

Other Notables

Simon Stransky, LW, Prince Albert Raiders
Jordy Stallard, C, Calgary Hitmen
Ty Ronning, RW, Vancouver Giants
Zach Sawchenko, G, Moose Jaw Warriors
Max Lajoie, D, Swift Current Broncos
Lucas Johansen, D, Kelowna Rockets
David Quenneville, D, Medicine Hat Tigers
Stuart Skinner, G, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Egor Babenko, RW, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Matt Phillips, C, Victoria Cougars
Patrick Bajkov, RW, Everett Silvertips
Evan Sarthou, G, Tri City Americans
Josh Anderson, D, Prince George Cougars

Total number of WHL players selected at the NHL Draft

2015: 35 (1st Rd: 5)
2014: 37 (1st Rd: 9)
2013: 33 (1st Rd: 8)
2012: 32 (1st Rd: 6)
2011: 33 (1st Rd: 6)
2010: 33 (1st Rd: 5)
2009: 31 (1st Rd: 5)
2008: 37 (1st Rd: 9)
2007: 37 (1st Rd: 9)
2006: 24 (1st Rd: 4)

Follow Glen Erickson on Twitter via @glenerickson51

 

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