Saturday, May 25, 2024

Wenatchee Wild complete first Western Hockey League prospects draft

Wild select 13 players as team builds for future ahead of 2024-25 season

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WENATCHEE – The Wenatchee Wild are pleased to announce the selection of 13 players in the 2024 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft, held Thursday. The 2024 edition was the club’s first-ever turn in the WHL Prospects Draft, after the Wild participated in their first-ever U.S. Priority Draft on Wednesday morning.

Wenatchee’s first selection of the day was Boston Tait with the 12th overall pick in the draft, a defenseman from Estevan, Saskatchewan and the Estevan Bruins Under-15 AA program. Tait piled up 46 points last season for the Bruins in 24 games, including 30 goals, and played in four games for the Estevan U18 Great North Bears AAA team, and became the earliest Estevan-born player chosen in the WHL draft since 2015. He was chosen as his team’s Hardest Working Player, and shared his team’s Most Valuable Player award.

“We feel like we’re getting a cornerstone defenseman for our program,” said Wenatchee Wild director of scouting Leigh Mendelson. “We obviously like the size, the mobility and the ability to play offense. He can lean on guys when he has to, defensively, and we feel he’s a very well-rounded player. In our interactions with him this year, he’s been a very mature young man, and great to deal with. With our first pick, we wanted to establish our own direction with our defensive corps, and we felt we really satisfied that with this pick. For Boston to be available at this point, it wasn’t a very long discussion.”

Other Wenatchee selections in Thursday’s draft included:

ROUND 3, PICK 63 – DEVIN PELLETIER (C – Sherwood Park, Alberta – Sherwood Park U15 AAA Flyers)
Devin plied his trade in the Alberta Elite Hockey League this past season and cranked out two points a game for his Flyers team, notching 33 goals and 33 assists in 32 games at the Under-15 level. He also pitched in 15 points in 10 postseason games, leading the Flyers to a fourth-place finish in the Alberta provincial championships. Pelletier wasn’t hesitant to step up the competition level, either, posting two assists in three games for Sherwood Park’s U17 Squires team, and three goals in five games at last month’s Alberta Cup.

ROUND 3, PICK 65 – DANIEL VAILLANT (D – Cochrane, Alberta – Airdrie Xtreme U15 AAA)
Just two picks later, the Wild chose another player coming off an outstanding U15 season in Alberta – Daniel notched 37 points in 34 regular-season games for the Airdrie Xtreme, and posted seven points over five games during his postseason run. Vaillant scored the game-winner to send his team to the provincial title game, leading his Xtreme team to a runner-up finish before posting two points in five games at last month’s Alberta Cup.

ROUND 5, PICK 104 – GRADY VEARY (RW – Campbell River, British Columbia – Island Hockey Club U15)
Grady has played at several different levels of the Junior Prospects Hockey League over the last two years, but spent most of this past season with Island Hockey Club’s Under-15 team. He posted 39 points in 33 games during the regular season, and nine points – seven of them goals – in five playoff games on his club’s Wild roster.

ROUND 6, PICK 122 – KOLTON DENICH (D – Naramata, British Columbia – Okanagan Hockey Academy U15 Prep)
Hailing from a small community on the east side of Lake Okanagan, Kolton has played just down the road at OHA for the last two seasons, landing on OHA’s Prep roster this past year after playing on the program’s Varsity roster a year ago. He notched 16 points for the U15 Prep team this past season, one season removed from a point-per-game run through the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s U15 Western Championships.

ROUND 7, PICK 140 – CARSTEN LEYERZAPF (G – Calgary, Alberta – Edge School U15 Prep)
The first goaltender on the draft board for the Wild, Leyerzapf has been excellent in two years of CSSHL play, earning wins in 11 of his 14 appearances for the Edge School’s U15 Prep team this past year. He won both of his decisions in the league’s Western Championships as well, including a 36-save performance to send his team to the championship game.

ROUND 7, PICK 145 – TYSON MEDERNACH (LW – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Saskatoon Stallions U15 AA)
Tyson took his game to a brand-new level in 2023-24, in his second year with the Saskatoon Stallions Under-15 team, cranking out 71 points over 28 games, and another 10 points in six postseason appearances. He was far and away his team’s top scorer this past season, opening the year with eight straight multi-point games and notching four multi-point outings in a row in the postseason.

ROUND 8, PICK 166 – DALTON FORBES (D – Calgary, Alberta – Calgary CBHA U15 AAA Bisons)
Dalton has played his last two seasons for the Bisons in the Alberta Elite Hockey League’s Under-15 division, posting six points this past year. He earned his first AEHL goal January 13 in a tie against the South East Tigers.

ROUND 8, PICK 167 – ETHAN COLLINS (RW – Fort McMurray, AB – Fort Saskatchewan Rangers U15 AAA
After spending his 2022-23 campaign in the Northern Alberta Hockey League, Ethan stepped up his offense another notch this year in the Alberta Elite Hockey League with 57 points in 34 regular season games. He followed that up with nine points in five AEHL postseason games, with three of his five goals coming on the power play, and five games in last month’s Alberta Cup.

ROUND 9, PICK 196 – ATTICUS CRUZ (C – Winnipeg, Manitoba – Winnipeg Wild U15 AAA Green)
Atticus played his first season at the AAA level last season, and jumped right into the offense for the Winnipeg Wild Green team with 46 points in 32 games. He hardly slowed down in the postseason, picking up three goals and four total points in three games of the Winnipeg AAA League playoffs.

ROUND 10, PICK 211 – MATT HENKELMAN (D – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Saskatoon Generals U15 AA)
Matt has played at the U15 level for two years in his hometown, playing for the Saskatoon Stallions a year ago before suiting up for the Generals in 2023-24. He cranked up his offensive output along the way, earning 25 points in 29 games, plus seven assists in six postseason outings. He also picked up four games for the Riverkings U18 team along the way.

ROUND 11, PICK 233 – KISHAN SAGGU (C – Surrey, British Columbia – Delta Hockey Academy U15 Prep Green)
Kishan has played the last two seasons in Delta Hockey Academy’s CSSHL program, and was up to the challenge in moving to Delta’s U15 Prep team this past year. Last season he notched a point-per-game average over 26 contests for Delta’s Varsity group, but bumped that total up to 15 goals and 23 assists this year in 27 CSSHL contests. He also had two goals in a win over Okanagan Hockey Academy to open the CSSHL Western Championships.

ROUND 12, PICK 255 – ANDERSON CARTER (C – Vancouver, Wash. – Wenatchee Wild 14U AAA)
Wenatchee took its final pick in-house, choosing a center from the Wenatchee Wild Hockey Academy – Anderson joined the Wild Hockey Academy this year after playing for the Vancouver Rangers in 2022-23. He and his Academy mates excelled in guest appearances at CSSHL showcases, with Carter notching a dozen points in eight CSSHL U15 Varsity contests. He had game-winning goals in back-to-back CSSHL games in January, helping his group go unbeaten at the Edge School Showcase.

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