At the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, a paltry 24 WHL players were chosen. This season, the talent pool in the WHL is significantly deeper, which suggests the number of drafted players should increase dramatically.
With an eye on the NHL Entry Draft in June, scheduled for Columbus, Ohio, here’s our WHL Top 10 prospects, listed in alphabetical order.
Karl Alzner, D (Calgary Hitmen)
Height: 6’2. Weight: 210 lbs.
DOB: Sept. 24, 1988
The Calgary Hitmen can look forward to some steady play from Karl Alzner as the amicable 18-year-old continues to shine along the backend. Like many prospects, Alzner admits his emphasis these days is on becoming the best defensive player he can be. However, his play this season has resulted in improved offensive performance as well. Alzner is mobile for a big defenseman and is able to take control of the puck in his own end to slow down the tempo. An effective passer, Alzner continues to make good decisions when head-manning the puck.
His strong play this season in Calgary combined with a solid performance in the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge and the national junior team developmental camp has earned the native of Burnaby, B.C. a trip to Sweden for the 2007 WJC.
Drayson Bowman, LW (Spokane Chiefs)
Height: 6’. Weight: 180 lbs.
DOB: Mar. 8, 1989
Bowman has proven his durability in Spokane, having played all 72 games last season as a rookie. The Littleton, Colorado native will likely see his first playoff experience this season as the much improved Chiefs continue to battle for positioning in the U.S. Division. He has 14 goals and seven assists in 34 games this year.
Keaton Ellerby, D (Kamloops Blazers)
Height: 6’4. Weight: 190 lbs.
DOB: Nov. 5, 1988
A regular contributor to the success of the Kamloops Blazers this season, Ellerby is a huge defenseman with good speed, acceleration and lateral movement. Like Alzner, emphasis on defensive play is his priority, yet his offensive upside cannot be ignored. Ellerby, a native of Okotoks, Alberta, plays behind veterans Ray Macias (COL) and Victor Bartley (free agent) in Kamloops. He sees time on special teams and adds a physical presence in front of the club’s young goaltending tandem. Ellerby played in the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge. He was invited to the national junior team selection camp, but was released.
Colton Gillies, F (Saskatoon Blades)
Height: 6’4. Weight: 185 lbs.
DOB: Feb. 12, 1989
The current campaign has been a series of highs and lows for Gillies, beginning with his role as an assistant captain for Canada’s gold medal winning U18 team at the World Championships in August. Since then, Gillies has found the going tough as a young leader on an inexperienced Saskatoon Blades hockey club. Blessed with good size and mobility, Gillies has been hobbled in recent weeks by an ankle injury, which hampered his play in the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge.
Zach Hamill, F (Everett Silvertips)
Height: 5’11. Weight: 190 lbs.
DOB: Sept. 23, 1988
Hamill was the first player chosen in Silvertips’ history at the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft. Since then, he has become the organization’s all-time leading scorer. Selected to play in the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge, Hamill was not invited to the Canada’s national junior selection camp. The oversight did not sit well with the native of Port Coquitlam, B.C., who is determined to prove his point over the remainder of the season. Hamill has scored 41 points in 33 games this season.
Spencer Machacek, F (Vancouver Giants)
Height: 6’1. Weight: 185 lbs.
DOB: Oct. 14, 1988
Benefiting from the Giants’ Memorial Cup play last year, Machacek also played for Team WHL during the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge. The personal growth and confidence gained by playing with the best in the league is expected to keep the lanky Machacek motivated and productive during the second half of the season.
Paul Postma, D (Swift Current Broncos)
Height: 6’3. Weight: 160 lbs.
DOB: Feb. 22, 1989
An explosive skater, Postma anchors the backend in ‘Speedy Creek’ where the surprising Broncos have been able to keep pace with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the race for top spot in the East Division on the Eastern Conference. He is working hard to bulk up and will benefit from the professional experience of former NHL defenseman Dean Chynoweth, the head coach and general manager in Swift Current.
Michal Repik, F (Vancouver Giants)
Height: 5’11. Weight: 185 lbs.
DOB: Dec. 31, 1988
Another of the key contributors in Vancouver this season, Repik provides scoring depth and will play in all situations this season. An import in the WHL, Repik came to the Giants from Vlasim in the Czech Republic. He has scored 33 points in 33 games this season and is expected to play in the 2007 WJC for the Czechs.
Linden Rowat, G (Regina Pats)
Height: 6’2. Weight: 175 lbs.
DOB: Jun. 27, 1989
Rowat brings professional size to the nets in Regina and should get a serious look from scouting staffs around the NHL. He covers the net well, employing the popular butterfly-style. A quick glove hand compliments his play. An early season knee injury has proven to be nothing more than a slight hiccup as the Pats were confident enough in Rowat’s play and potential that they traded veteran goaltender David Reekie to the Everett Silvertips. Rowat, from Cochrane, Alberta, will play the majority of minutes for Regina this season. He will play a major role in short-term future of the Pats organization.
Tyson Sexsmith, G (Vancouver Giants)
Height: 6’. Weight: 205 lbs.
DOB: Mar. 19, 1988
Initially, the Giants had Sexsmith platooning with veteran Dustin Slade, the same pair who participated in the 2006 Memorial Cup. With Slade electing to leave the team in November to pursue his professional aspirations, Sexsmith has become the go-to guy in Vancouver. While the Giants have acquired veteran Blaine Neufeld (free agent) from the Saskatoon Blades to provide a competent backup, Sexsmith will handle the bulk of the workload as the club prepares to host the 2007 Memorial Cup.
Sexsmith relies on his fundamentals. He has good balance, plays his angles well and works hard to stay on his feet. He will benefit from an efficient defensive corps in Vancouver that will limit shots on goal, however, Sexsmith’s ability to stay focused suggests he brings a strong mental approach to the rink.
Sexsmith will have plenty of opportunity to show professional scouts what he can do as he will play a ton of minutes this season. Barring injury or a change of heart by Giants’ brass, Sexsmith is pegged to carry the load for Vancouver at the Memorial Cup.
Oscar Moller, F (Chilliwack Bruins), Nick Ross, D, (Regina Pats), Thomas Hickey, D (Seattle Thunderbirds), Justin McCrae, F (Saskatoon Blades), Dana Tyrell, F (Prince George Cougars), Brandon Sutter, F (Red Deer Rebels), John Blum, D (Vancouver Giants), Eric Doyle, D (Everett Silvertips), Radek Meidl, F (Seattle Thunderbirds), John Negrin, D (Kootenay Ice), Kurtis Mucha, G (Portland Winter Hawks), Taylor Ellington, D (Everett Silvertips), Eric Doyle, D (Everett Silvertips), Alex Plante, D (Calgary Hitmen), Justin Leclerc, G (Lethbridge Hurricanes), Andrew Clark, F (Brandon Wheat Kings)
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.