WHL Top prospects of 2004-05

By Aaron Vickers

Below is a ranking of the Western Hockey League’s Top 20 drafted prospects during the 2004-05 season.

Top 20 at a Glance

1.Dion Phaneuf, D (CAL) – Red Deer Rebels
2.Cameron Barker, D (CHI) – Medicine Hat Tigers
3.Ryan Getzlaf, RW (ANA) – Calgary Hitmen
4.Eric Fehr, RW (WAS) – Brandon Wheat Kings
5.Andrew Ladd, LW (CAR) – Calgary Hitmen
6.Braydon Coburn, D (ATL) – Portland Winter Hawks
7.Andres Meszaros, D (OTT) – Vancouver Giants
8.Shea Weber, D (NAS) – Kelowna Rockets
9.Brent Seabrook, D (CHI) – Lethbridge Hurricanes
10.Devan Dubnyk, G (EDM) – Kamloops Blazers
11.Marek Schwarz, G (STL) – Vancouver Giants
12.Shawn Belle, D (DAL) – Tri-City Americans
13.Nigel Dawes, LW (NYR) – Kootenay Ice
14.Mike Green, D (WAS) – Saskatoon Blades
15.Clarke MacArthur, LW (BUF) – Medicine Hat Tigers
16.Jeremy Colliton, C (NYI) – Prince Albert Raiders
17.Kyle Chipchura, C (MON) – Prince Albert Raiders
18.Colin Fraser, C (CHI) – Red Deer Rebels
19.Dustin Boyd, C (CAL) – Moose Jaw Warriors
20.Jeff Glass, G (OTT) – Kootenay Ice

Key: Current rank, Name, position, age, team, Draft position, NHL rights, Grade, and Projection.

1.Dion Phaneuf, D, 19, Red Deer Rebels
Draft: 1st round, 9th overall 2003
Rights: Calgary Flames
Grade: 9.0A Projection: Elite defenseman

Widely regarded as the top drafted player in the Canadian Hockey League, Red Deer Rebels alternate captain Dion Phaneuf has lived up to expectations thus far in not only his play in junior, but his developmental path as well. Since being selected ninth overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Phaneuf has done nothing but impress both Red Deer bench boss Brent Sutter as well as his brother Darryl Sutter, GM of the Calgary Flames.

After signing a contract on the eve of the NHL lockout, Phaneuf was returned to the Rebels, where he did not disappoint. Amongst defensemen, there isn’t a statistical category imaginable that Phaneuf wasn’t listed among the league leaders, despite missing time due to both injury and a gold-medal performance at the 2005 World Junior Championships where he totaled six points and was named Top Defenseman.

Known for his devastating hits and elite shot, Phaneuf, who had 56 points in 55 games this season, has all the tools necessary to become an upper-echelon defenseman for the Calgary Flames. The future of the Flames defensive core has certainly shone brighter since the addition of Dion Phaneuf to their talent pool.

What an anonymous scout said:
“[Phaneuf has] great range. His skating gives him the ability to attack, take chances. Linearly, he probably skates further than anyone in the game, and he doesn’t burn energy skating, he can skate all night. He can pinch in probably one or two more situations than any other defensemen. He can come late and join the rush, and if nothing happens, he has the ability to go back and pick somebody up.”

What Phaneuf said:
“Well, I’ve got to get better every day, I know that. I’ve got to worry about Calgary when I get there, and I’ve got to work hard to get there. For now, I’ll concentrate on the Red Deer Rebels.”

2.Cameron Barker, D, 18, Medicine Hat Tigers
Draft: 1st round, 3rd overall 2004
Rights: Chicago Blackhawks
Grade: 8.0B Projection: First pairing defenseman

In terms of sheer offensive talent, there are very few defensemen who can match what Medicine Hat Tiger Cameron Barker can bring to the table. A top three pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Barker added another dimension to the Chicago Blackhawks prospect pool that already boasted Brent Seabrook and Anton Babchuk.

This season with the Tigers has been a trying one though for Barker, who had 48 points in 52 regular season games during 2004-05. Barker regularly plays upwards of 30 minutes a game, and uses his energy very conservatively. He’s been criticized for not giving his full effort every shift, but one can make the argument that he’s simply being efficient in his skating, in order to be better prepared for clutch situations at later stages in the game.

It was Barker’s offensive prowess that earned him a spot on Brent Sutter’s 2005 Canadian Junior Team, the only defenseman available to return to the same tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2006. Although Canada was able to win the 2005 tournament, Barker was not a part of the gold medal clinching game, forced to watch after it was revealed he was suffering from mononucleosis. The smooth-skating defender recorded a goal in one of his three tournament games.

What an anonymous scout said:
“Offensively, [Barker’s] a great guy. [He] has a good shot from the point. He takes a little bit off his shot sometimes and lays it down so it can be tipped. A lot of his shots are tipped, yet it looks like he’s shooting for them to be tipped. He’s got that ability. It’s sort of like Al MacInnis with Calgary. He could be better in his own end, but like all offensive defensemen, priorities are points. He’s always going to have to be paired with a guy that always tries to drop off. If you hold Barker back and try to make him play a defensive role, why hold him back? You’ve got him there for offense.”

What Tigers Coach Willie Desjardins said:
“He’s bigger and stronger. He’s more composed with the puck. You don’t know how much you missed him until he came back. He makes things look easy, controls the play, and he’s just a big horse back there. I think [the mono] has helped him; I think he’s got more strength now. He played with it for a while; I think he fought through with it for a longtime where he just wasn’t very good. You could see it in his color. He played for a month where he was just white and didn’t have any color in his face so I think he had it for a while before it was caught. He looked slow and people made comments on it but he was still playing and playing a lot but since he came back he just kept getting better and better.”

3.Ryan Getzlaf, RW, 19, Calgary Hitmen
Draft: 1st round, 19th overall 2003
Rights: Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Grade: 8.0B Projection: First line forward

Ryan Getzlaf was another Western League prospect who signed an NHL contract on the eve of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. After being returned to the Calgary Hitmen for his fourth and final junior season due to the lockout, Getzlaf seemingly appeared disinterested at times on the ice and that lead to a slow start for the sniper.

With too much talent to waste, Getzlaf quickly picked up his game, and a plethora of points. In a season that can only be described as inconsistent, the 19th overall selection from the 2003 NHL Entry Draft slipped in and out of form all season for a variety of reasons. Still, though, Getzlaf managed 54 points in 52 games.

This season was arguably Getzlaf’s busiest, despite appearing in his lowest total of games for the Hitmen. Getzlaf found himself burdened by injury for periods of time this year, including a slow recovery from his first concussion, suffered at the hands of 2005 World Junior Championship teammate and Red Deer Rebels bruiser Phaneuf. Still, with an exceptional set of hands and a lethal snapshot, Getzlaf was able to find success on the scoresheet, as well as off the ice, as he was named the Hitmen Player of the Year.

Getzlaf had an impressive performance at the 2005 World Junior Championships and finished second in scoring for Canada with 12 points.

What an anonymous scout said:
“Well, great all-around skill. He can pick up the tempo of a game or slow the tempo down all on his own. As he goes, Calgary goes. He is a key guy. It’s all up to him. He’ll do whatever he wants to do in the NHL. Once he gets there, and gets used to the tempo and the parameter of the whole game, it’s all up to him.”

What he said:
“It’s been tough. It’s been up and down, and I’m not exactly happy with my season. The points have been okay, but it’s been a battle missing games with the concussion and the World Juniors.”

4.Eric Fehr, RW, 19, Brandon Wheat Kings
Draft: 1st round, 18th overall 2003
Rights: Washington Capitals
Grade: 7.5B Projection: First/second line forward

Offensively, there is no one in the Western Hockey League who had a season that could compare with Washington Capitals prospect Eric Fehr’s. The Brandon Wheat King finished atop the league in both goals (59) and points (111) respectively, en route to his second consecutive 50-goal season, many as a result of his explosive wrist-shot, thought by many to be the best wrist shot in the league and already NHL-caliber.

While much of Fehr’s success centered around teammate Ryan Stone, it was quickly made clear that the 18th overall selection in 2003 was able to function on his own after being split up from Stone midway through the season to anchor a line with Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Tim Konsorada and Jakub Sindel.

What one scout said:
”Eric Fehr has elevated his game to the point where things look easy for him. He’s used his size, strength and natural scoring instincts to emerge as the league’s top goal scorer. Fehr has been unstoppable on the power play and he’s done a fine job of avoiding any prolonged slumps.”

5.Andrew Ladd, LW, 19, Calgary Hitmen
Draft: 1st round, 4th overall 2004
Rights: Carolina Hurricanes
Grade: 7.5B Projection: First/second line forward

After suffering a separated shoulder at the Canadian Junior Development Camp in August, ironically enough at the hands of Hitmen teammate Ryan Getzlaf, Maple Ridge, BC native Andrew Ladd struggled to find success early in his second WHL campaign. Sophomore jinx and injury aside, Ladd wasn’t about to make excuses for his poor play, which saw him score a meager 45 points in 65 games.

After being selected fourth overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, expectations were high for Ladd. Many had written him off as a poor selection based on his early season play, but the Hitmen winger was able to shake off his rough start after bringing home gold for Team Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championships. The event seemed to re-energize Ladd, who finished fifth in team scoring for the tournament behind Bergeron, Getzlaf, Carter, and Crosby.

Upon his return to Calgary, fans and coaches alike saw the Andrew Ladd that they had remembered from the season prior. With a fresh start, Ladd was once again a banging, hitting, forechecking and offensive juggernaut, to the relief of the Calgary Hitmen and Carolina Hurricanes alike.

What one scout said:
“The only thing that would be a problem with [Ladd] is that he’s got a short fuse and sometimes will play into the hands of the other team. As far as the complete hockey player is concerned, he’s got it all ahead of him. He’s good, sound, durable hockey player who hits as much as he gets hit – he’s not afraid to get hit, and he always plays through the other player, in other words, this is one boy who doesn’t stick check. He’ll finish the check, he’s got good hands. What he needs more than anything else is patience, he needs to play with patience.”

What he said:
“I was pretty excited because [Carolina] isn’t too deep in terms of their prospects. Looking from that perspective it gives me a pretty good chance to make my way up through the organization. They’ve got a lot of great young players coming up. It’ll be fun to see how us guys progress.”

6.Braydon Coburn, D, 20, Portland Winter Hawks
Draft: 1st round, 8th overall 2003
Rights: Atlanta Thrashers
Grade: 8.0B Projection: First pairing defenseman

The 2004-05 Western Hockey League season will not be one that Portland Winter Hawks defenseman Braydon Coburn will soon forget. Not only did Coburn set new personal highs in goals (12), points (44) and plus/minus (+9), but those statistics placed him among the top 15 in defensive scoring for the first time in his career.

Coburn, who is under contract with the Atlanta Thrashers, served as the captain for Portland this season. At 6’5, 224lbs, the rugged defenseman is said to be an excellent, all-round defenseman who could play a more physically aggressive game.

Not only was Coburn successful in the WHL, but he was also a key contributor to the Team Canada squad that won gold at the 2005 World Junior Championships registering a pair of assists along the way. He has recently signed an amateur tryout contract with the AHL Chicago Wolves and has one assist in three games played.

What the Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell said last summer:
“I watched him play a lot. He’s playing 27-30 minutes a night. He’s a big kid, he’s the smartest player in the Western League that I’ve seen play in my five years. Will he have to play a little meaner here? There’s no doubt. I think he’s capable of that too. No, I think his progress was very good [in 2003-04]. That would be not just my opinion, but the opinion of the scouts. In fact, the other thing, when you’re trying to trade for other players, everyone always wanted him. He was the one everyone always wanted.”

7.Andrej Meszaros, D, 19, Vancouver Giants
Draft: 1st round, 23nd overall 2004
Rights: Ottawa Senators
Grade: 7.5B Projection: First/second pairing defenseman

In his first season in the WHL, Slovak import Andrej Meszaros made a heavy impact with the Vancouver Giants. After the Giants lost fellow 2004 NHL Entry Draft first round selection Mark Fistric for the majority of the year with a broken jaw, Meszaros was thrust into the spotlight and has never looked back.

With 41 points in just 59 games this season, Meszaros finished in the top 15 among defensemen in the league, and also lead all rookie defensemen in scoring. On top of that, Meszaros also finished sixth overall in rookie scoring.

Among both the league leaders in points for defensemen and rookies, it wasn’t uncommon to see Meszaros log upwards of 30 minutes a game for the Giants. Said to be one of the top defensemen available in his draft year, the Ottawa Senators couldn’t pass on adding an all-round defenseman to their prospect core.

At the 2005 World Junior Championships, Meszaros’ three goals were a team high for Slovakia and he finished fourth overall on his national team for tournament points.

What one scout said:
“Well Meszaros, he’s got the ability to dictate the pace of the play from the back end, and that isn’t something that many defensemen are able to do. He’s got a nice shot which he isn’t afraid to let go and his passing is crisp. He isn’t overly physical in the sense that he puts himself out there to make big hits, but he doesn’t hesitate to play rough.”

8.Shea Weber, D, 19, Kelowna Rockets
Draft: 2nd round, 49th overall 2003
Rights: Nashville Predators
Grade: 7.5C Projection: First/second pairing defenseman

If the 2005 World Junior Championships was any indication of the play that Kelowna Rockets defenseman Shea Weber is capable of, then the Nashville Predators organization is all smiles.

After dropping to 49th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft as a result of injury, Weber’s stock has done nothing by soar. His excellent defensive zone coverage combined with his physical play and underrated offensive abilities have Weber’s name being mentioned in the same breath as the WHL’s elite defensemen.

In fact, Weber already ranks among the league’s top blueliners in several statistical categories, including points. Weber is also the only defender in the league to lead his team in points. Weber, who had 41 points in 55 games for the Rockets, finished 14th among defensemen in scoring, despite missing significant time due to an injury to his leg.

What one scout said:
“He’s a big guy with really good mobility and has a presence on the ice. He’s not a tough guy but I think everyone pays attention when he’s out there. Down the road he looks to be a really good defenseman. I’ve been very impressed with him and I think he’ll be a very good NHLer.”

9.Brent Seabrook, D, 19, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Draft: 1st round, 14th overall 2003
Rights: Chicago Blackhawks
Grade: 7.5B Projection: First/second pairing defenseman

The 2004-05 Western Hockey League season was a coming-out party for Lethbridge Hurricanes defenseman Brent Seabrook. After a pair of solid seasons in 2002-03 and 2003-04, Seabrook established himself as one of the WHL’s top defensemen, dominating the opposition at both ends of the ice.

The 6’3, 215-pound Seabrook finished the season among the top ten in defensemen scoring, despite missing time to play in the World Junior Championships, where he collected three points in five games. Seabrook’s 54 points in 63 games placed him sixth in the league among defenders.

What Hurricanes coach Lindsay Hoffard said:
“I thought he was outstanding last year and all the way through to this point. Obviously he’s our quarterback back there, he’s solid defensively, and he’s got a great offensive presence out there as well. He’s our captain so he’s definitely a great leader as well so there are really no downsides to ‘Seab’s’ game at all.”

What he said about Chicago:
“The guys they’ve got in the organization are as talented as any around, and I’m looking forward to hopefully being a part of that and growing with the organization. With the jersey they have and the background they have with guys playing over the years, just some great guys in the past and the present. Just to be drafted to that organization, an original six team, it’s a great honor.”

10.Devan Dubnyk, G, 18, Kamloops Blazers
Draft: 1st round, 14th overall 2004
Rights: Edmonton Oilers
Grade: 8.0C Projection: Starting goaltender

Expectations were high for Devan Dubnyk this year as critics demanded to see why he was the second goalie chosen at the 2004 draft when most publications listed him no higher than third. The Edmonton Oilers must have seen what others did not though, because aside from the occasional poor outing, Dubnyk had a fantastic year with the Kamloops Blazers.

The Blazers, widely regarded as one of the weakest teams in the WHL this past year, rode Dubnyk into a playoff position and stole a pair of games from the heavily favored Kootenay Ice before bowing out of their first round clash. Dubnyk was named a game star in the first three games of the series, which followed the pattern from the regular season where the 6’5 goalie was given honors in roughly half the games he played in.

No goalie played more games or faced more shots that Dubnyk who ended the schedule with a respectable .912 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average.

Dubnyk took part in both the August and December camps for Canada’s Under-20 team but played himself out of consideration. Of all the goalies invited to the two camps, the Oiler prospect is the only one eligible to play for Canada in 2006.

What the Edmonton Oilers Kevin Prendergast said:
“[Kamloops] is thin forward wise, they don’t have a lot of skill up front so a lot of the game is played in their end. If the team is going to have a chance to win, Devan’s going to have to stand on his head.”

11.Marek Schwarz, G, 18, Vancouver Giants
Draft: 1st round, 17th overall 2004
Rights: St Louis Blues
Grade: 8.0B Projection: Starting goaltender

The second of two rookie imports for the Vancouver Giants, goaltender Marek Schwarz hasn’t had the same success that Andrej Mezsaros has found in North America, but has still impacted the club in a positive manner.

Schwarz, the third goaltender taken in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, came to North America after the Vancouver Giants selected him in the import draft, looking to solidify a WHL Championship run by adding their missing piece of the puzzle. Schwarz, though, hasn’t found the success expected upon his arrival, and has struggled at times to adjust to the North American game, and more specifically, the angles involved with a smaller ice surface.

Although his 26-24-4 record in 2004-05 seems respectable, the expectations on both himself and the Vancouver Giants were much higher. Couple his record with the fact that he didn’t rank among the leagues top 15 in either goals against average (2.67) or save percentage (.900), and one has to consider the season a learning experience for the Czech netminder.

Upon returning to the larger, more familiar ice, Schwarz was dominant. It was on the larger ice that the Czech netminder was able to lead his native country to a bronze medal finish at the 2005 World Junior Championships, an event in which he was named the tournament’s top goaltender.

What one scout said:
“Schwarz has outstanding ability and can be a hell of a goaltender. He’s so quick that he makes up for his lack of size. He’ll need to improve controlling his rebounds and angling them into the corners, though, but that will come with learning the North American rinks.”

12.Shawn Belle, D, 20, Tri-City Americans
Draft: 1st round, 30th overall 2003
Rights: Dallas Stars
Grade: 7.0B Projection: Second pairing defenseman

Much like Canadian junior teammate Brent Seabrook, Tri-City Americans blueliner established himself as a force over the course of the 2004-05 Western Hockey League season. Belle, who had 45 points in 62 games this season, set new career highs in every offensive category imaginable, en route to finishing third on the club in scoring, and tenth in the Western Hockey League amongst defensemen.

Belle, finishing up his fourth season with Tri-City, won gold on Team Canada in the 2005 World Junior Championships. In the tournament Belle had just a single goal but played a physical role and helped move the puck up the ice extremely well.

What the Dallas Stars Guy Carbonneau said at the WJC:
“Our organization has a lot of hope with him. He has the size and the skating ability to play in the NHL. He also has a very good head on his shoulders. Someday, he will play in the NHL. It is just a matter of time.”

What teammate Clayton Stoner:
“I have been playing with him for a couple of years now and he’s another great player. He likes to lug the puck and I like to stay at home. The balance is there and it works out pretty great. We have really learned to play [with] each other very well.”

13. Nigel Dawes, LW, 20, Kootenay Ice
Draft: 5th round, 149th overall 2003
Rights: New York Rangers
Grade: 7.0C Projection: Second line forward

Quietly, New York Rangers prospect and Kootenay Ice winger Nigel Dawes had another explosive year in the WHL. Ending the season with 50 goals for the first time in his career, Dawes finished second only to Brandon Wheat King scoring sensation Eric Fehr for the league lead in that category. Dawes won the category last year. His 76 points in 2004-05 also saw him rank ninth in the league in points.

Captain of his Kootenay Ice squad, Dawes, much like teammate Jeff Glass, caught fire upon returning from his gold medal winning performance at the 2005 World Junior Championships, a tournament that Dawes lead in scoring a year before. Although he did not score at the same pace he had in 2004, Dawes had six points and provided invaluable leadership that brought Canada’s gold drought to an end.

Dawes, selected by the Rangers in the fifth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, is already signed by the Rangers, and after his current season with the Kootenay Ice, will leave the Western League with a legacy intact.

What one scout said:
“Great little player. He’s got great peripheral vision. It’s really hard to get a solid piece of him, almost like he’s got ‘rear-view mirrors.’ Teams try to nail him, try to take space away from them but he’s very difficult to hit. Dawes doesn’t take punishment. You can’t hit him. As far as creativity, he’s very creative with the puck and has an innate ability to enter the slot or open area, and has good body position to get the shot off quickly. That’s why he scores so many goals, because he’ll curl high and come back into the slot. For a winger to feed him, he’s an easy guy to feed. There are guys that have that ability to make themselves available to the shot. He’s got that ability.”

What Ice coach Cory Clouston said:
“If anything, [Dawes] might’ve raised [his] level, but he was just as important before the Worlds as he is now. [Dawes is] a competitor.”

What he said:
“It’s definitely a younger [Rangers] team and something I’m looking forward to. There’s definitely going to be a lot of opportunities there and you’ve just got to take advantage of them.”

14.Mike Green, D, 19, Saskatoon Blades
Draft: 1st round, 29th overall 2004
Rights: Washington Capitals
Grade: 6.5C Projection: Second/third pairing defenseman

Even with questions about his average size and how it would hold up at the pro level, the Washington Capitals felt that with the 29th overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Mike Green was the right choice for the organization. The selection caught many off guard after the Capitals had selected Calgary Hitmen blueliner Jeff Schultz two spots earlier, but the decision is looking better and better each day.

After spending the 2003-04 season with a disastrous Saskatoon squad, the Blades were able to turn their fortunes around with the help of a coaching change, and find success in the 2004-05 season. The turnaround was so dramatic that Green went from a minus player a season ago when he finished -29, to finishing fourth in the league in plus/minus, with a +36 rating.

Even more impressive may be the fact that Green led all WHL defensemen in assists and points, registering 66 points in 67 games this season.

What he said:
“I didn’t have a clue where I was going to go, but I was just thankful I was going to Washington. They’re a great organization. Hopefully I can get into it soon.”

15.Clarke MacArthur, C, 19, Medicine Hat Tigers
Draft: 3rd round, 74th overall 2004
Rights: Buffalo Sabres
Grade: 6.5B Projection: Second/third line forward

Quietly, Medicine Hat Tiger forward Clarke MacArthur had one of the best seasons of any Western Hockey League player this season. With 74 points in only 58 games, MacArthur finished 11th in the league in scoring, but finished third in points-per-game, behind only Brandon Wheat Kings duo Fehr and Stone, and ahead of Getzlaf, Ladd and Dawes.

On top of his offensively successful Western Hockey League season, MacArthur also found success with another team. MacArthur was an instrumental part of the gold-medal winning Team Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championships, where he admirably filled an energy role for the team and still scored four goals.

What one scout said:
“[MacArthur] really has come on. He used to labor in his skating, but has really improved his skating. If his skating comes on and he can improve it next year as much as he’s improved it this year, he’ll have no trouble. When he first came in the league, he didn’t have a high gear, but it’s improved. Very smart player, very intelligent with the puck. He lets the puck work for him. He’s very adaptable. You can put him on a blend line, you can put him with anyone.”

What Tigers coach Willie Desjardins said:
“He’s been outstanding a lot of nights. He’s a bit of a marked guy where other teams will pay a lot of attention to him. He just plays. He passes the puck like a pro, and shoots it like a pro.”

16.Jeremy Colliton, C, 20, Prince Albert Raiders
Draft: 2nd round, 58th overall 2003
Rights: New York Islanders
Grade: 7.0C Projection: Second line forward

The New York Islanders have to be happy with the developments made by Prince Albert Raider center Jeremy Colliton. They probably weren’t as impressed, though, with how Colliton’s season unfolded.

After starting the first half of the season at a torrid scoring pace, Colliton struggled with a knee injury, most noticeably at the 2005 World Junior Championships, where he was originally skating on the team’s top line with Rimouski Oceanic star Sidney Crosby and Providence Bruin Patrice Bergeron.

Colliton hobbled out of the tournament, though, after suffering from what was described as an upper-body injury at the time. Colliton also suffered a knee injury after the tournament, limiting his action in a Prince Albert Raider uniform. Still though, Colliton, who served as captain for the Raiders before turning the captaincy over to Luke Fritshaw, will certainly look back on the events of the 2004-05 season with a smile. Colliton ended up with 46 points in 41 games.

What teammate Kyle Chipchura said:
“He’s probably the guy who’s taught me the most, player wise. The guy is the best player I’ve played with throughout the year. He’s a hard-working guy, great all-around player, really consistent and brings his best to the ice every day and you just take stuff from him by watching him. He’s also the first guy to help you out, he’s a good friend and a good teammate to have.”

17.Kyle Chipchura , C, 19, Prince Albert Raiders
Draft: 1st round, 18th overall 2004
Rights: Montreal Canadiens
Grade: 7.0A Projection: Second line forward

The 2004-05 season was both a successful and difficult one for Montreal Canadiens prospect and Prince Albert Raiders forward Kyle Chipchura. After getting off to an incredible start offensively, Chipchura suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon which forced him to have immediate emergency surgery. It appeared after 28 games, in which Chipchura scored 32 points, Chipchura’s season was done.

This however, wasn’t the case. Out since early December, Chipchura has returned to the Prince Albert Raider lineup for the playoffs.

What he said:
“I enjoy more of a physical game. I am more of a physical player then more of a wide open style player. Out here in the WHL we don’t get many of those wide open games as most are a lot more physical.”

18.Colin Fraser, C, 20, Red Deer Rebels
Draft: 3rd round, 69th overall 2003
Rights: Chicago Blackhawks
Grade: 6.5C Projection: Second/third line forward

Red Deer Rebels captain Colin Fraser was definitely the leader that Head Coach Brent Sutter was looking for to guide the team this season. Fraser, widely regarded as one of the top captains in the Western Hockey League, lead the club not only in the dressing room but all over the score sheet as well.

With 67 points in 63 games this season, Fraser was just five points, one assist and eight goals away from leading the club in all three categories. Fraser, who was also +17, lead the team in plus/minus and his 148 minutes in penalties were also tops among Rebel skaters.

Perhaps Fraser’s greatest achievement, however, came with earning five points and winning gold for Team Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championships.

What one scout said:
“[Fraser] needs to get stronger and bigger. He’s an excellent face-off guy. He needs a little more power in his stride, but is a good, smart, all-around player, and he plays the game that a bigger man plays. The bigger and stronger he gets, the better he’s going to be, because he doesn’t play a finesse game. He plays a contact grinding game and he’s got good anticipation and he’s strong with the puck.”

19.Dustin Boyd, C, 19, Moose Jaw Warriors
Draft: 3rd round, 98th overall 2004
Rights: Calgary Flames
Grade: 6.5A Projection: Second/third line forward

A relative unknown heading into the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Moose Jaw Warriors forward Dustin Boyd has certainly taken the 2004-05 WHL season to open some eyes. Boyd, known primarily as a shut-down, defense-first center, has added the element of offense to his game this season, finding the touch that made him the top scoring midget player in Manitoba three seasons ago.

Heading into the season, Boyd might have had some additional inspiration to step up his game. After an injury to Ladd in the Canadian Junior Development Camp in Calgary, 2005 Canadian Junior Head Coach Brent Sutter hand-picked Boyd to be his replacement. Obviously impressed with what he saw, Boyd was again chosen by Sutter to represent the WHL in the ADT CHL Canada/Russia Challenge, being named game MVP in the sixth and final game of the series.

Taking his game one step further, Boyd was finally invited to the 2005 Canadian Junior Selection Camp, where he was one of several cuts. Using the event as motivation, Boyd managed to pull the lowly Moose Jaw Warriors, who won one game from the start of October through the end of November, into a playoff club by season’s end.

What he said:
“Oh it was just that much better to know the Flames were in the finals and I was watching their games all throughout the playoffs. It was just that much better to be selected by a team having that much success. [Before the draft] I went to the NHL combine and had eight interviews, one of them was with the Flames. I talked to them and they seemed pretty high on me.”

20.Jeff Glass, G, 19, Kootenay Ice
Draft: 3rd round, 89th overall 2004
Rights: Ottawa Senators
Grade: 7.0C Projection: NHL goaltender

Quietly, Kootenay Ice goaltender Jeff Glass has had a solid, if not spectacular season in the WHL, and the 2004-05 season definitely won’t be one that the Ottawa Senators prospect will soon forget.

After an excellent start to the 2004-05 season, Glass found himself among the list of invitees for the Canadian Junior Selection Camp, despite not even being among the five goaltenders invited for the Canadian Junior Development Camp, held months earlier. Glass, along with Prince Albert Raider goaltender Rejean Beauchemin, was named to represent Team Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championships, in which Glass backstopped Canada to its first gold medal in seven years.

Upon returning to his Kootenay Ice club after the tournament, Glass continued to tear up the league. Glass, a third round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, didn’t lose a regulation game in the month of January and, combined with the World Junior Championships, went nearly two months without suffering defeat. He propelled his Kootenay team into top spot in the BC Division, and is the quiet favorite around the league to be named the WHL’s Top Goaltender.

What one scout said:
“Well, Glass has really improved the last couple of years. He’s really improved his angles. He’s always in very good position, always facing the puck. He doesn’t have a real high arc in his game. He plays to the top of the crease, always in very good position. Very economical in his body movement, he’s not flopping around or swimming. He’s not necessarily a hybrid, but he can go into a butterfly, but he tends to recover quickly and get up, not flopping around all the time.”

What Ice coach Cory Clouston said:
“What a great experience to be in a pressure cooker like that in the national spotlight and the world spotlight, and those are things that are invaluable [to his development], those types of experiences.”

Guy Flaming, Jeff Dahlia, Glenn Gawronski, Holly Gunning, and Simon Richard contributed to this article. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.