The 2016 WHL Bantam Draft is shaping up to be a big year for young Albertans, especially early in the first round.
Four of the top 10 projected WHL Bantam Draft selections are from Alberta, including the top player at each position according to various scouting reports.
Consistently in the top 10 are Lethbridg D-man Bowen Byram, Rocky Mountain Raiders’ forward Peyton Krebs, Fort Saskatchewan native and forward Kirby Dach and Taylor Gauthier of the Calgary Buffaloes.
Currently favoured to round out this year’s top 10 WHL draft prospects are four skaters from B.C. Three players from the Yale Hockey Academy, while Manitoba and Saskatchewan have one representative apiece.
If Byram or Krebs go first overall, it would mark the third time in four years with an Albertan taken first overall, following Ty Smith to the Spokane Chiefs last year and Tyler Benson to the Vancouver Giants in 2013.
In 2011 and 2013, Alberta had four players chosen in the top 10. In 2010, there were four players born in Alberta drafted early, plus Morgan Klimchuk, who was born in Saskatchewan but played minor hockey in Calgary.
Comparing the Western provinces to each other by top 10 picks across the past six years offers a glimpse into where the top talent comes from.
Since 2010, British Columbia and Alberta have battled for the higher number of top 10 selections. B.C. has had 20, while Alberta has had 18. Saskatchewan is next with 13, and Manitoba has eight, six of whom have come in the past two drafts.
Keep in mind, Alberta and B.C. have more than four million residents, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba have just over a million.
Correction: Original version of article stated that should an Albertan be drafted first overall in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, it would mark three straight years with an Albertan being selected with the top pick. A correction has been made to reflect that it would be the third time in four years that an Albertan was drafted number one. Ty Smith from Lloydminster was drafted first in 2015, Winnipeg's Stellio Mattheos was the top pick in 2014, while Tyler Benson from Edmonton was drafted with the top pick in 2013. (Updated Jan. 30, 2016 at 3:30 p.m.)
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