May 15, 2008
Posted in BC Edition
By Jeff Bromley /
Success in the standings won't get you that high on the list come the WHL Bantam Draft.
Finishing in the top-ten league-wide over the past decade, the Kootenay Ice found themselves in a similar position this year for the Western Hockey League's annual cattle call of young talent.
With the 15th pick, Kootenay director of scouting Garnet Kazuik liked what he saw when Ft. Saskatchewan Ranger forward Brendan Hurley was still there.
"There's always going to be some unexpected players that do end up there," said Kazuik. "There were a few guys we had expected to see there but obviously he wasn't one of them. When it came to our pick we had to make a decision and you can never replace goal-scoring and that's something that stood out with Brendan."
Blessed with goal-scoring along with size, the 6-1, 175-pound left winger who led the Rangers in scoring and finished fourth in Alberta Bantam League scoring are both attributes Hurley has in spades. Notching 51 goals in 33 games was too much of a plum for the Ice head scout to let go by.
"He's not going to score two goals a game at the higher levels but he should have some success as he moves up."
The club's first round pick has the size and uses it too as Kazuik also said that Hurley was often the biggest player on the ice during his last season at the Bantam level.
"He can skate well for a big player and he overtakes players on the ice. It wasn't very often he was on the losing end of a one-on-one battle with opposing players."
Pre-draft pundits, including scouts from the International Scouting Service that ranks the top 20 Bantam-aged players headed into the draft each year, had Hurley mentioned in the top six picks, including players such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from Burnaby Winter Club and Ty Rattie from the Airdrie Extreme, both of whom went one and two overall to Red Deer and Portland, respectively.
So much so that Hurley drew comparisons to Everett Silvertip forward Kyle Beach, an abundantly gifted goal-scorer who will likely get selected in the first round of the NHL Draft next month but along with it brought the baggage of undisciplined play on the ice since he was a tenth overall pick three years ago.
"That didn't have any effect on our selection whatsoever," said Kazuik. "We're just looking for the best player. Is he the best player in the draft? We definitely hope he is but I guess time will tell. Is he the wildcard in the draft? That remains to be seen."
The club looked to Calgary for their second pick in Ryan Bloom, a slick forward from the Calgary Bisons organization.
In the third round, the Ice took Prince George-born defenceman Micheal King, who played for Team Northeast at the BC Winter Games in Cranbrook and Kimberley in February.
Some familiar names dot the club's section list of eleven players such as forward Jagger Dirk out of Penticton with the 235th overall pick.
Dirk is the son of former Vancouver Canuck defenseman Robert Dirk.
The Ice scouting staff hoped to have mined another impact player from the American Southwest in forward Cody Bisbing from the Phoenix Firebirds Bantam AAA club, though a caveat has been that the American kids are getting harder and harder to attract north.
"Any time you select an American player beyond the first pick you run the risk of not getting them because the American programs are so good now," Kazuik said of the tenth-round pick.
The Ice themselves have a pick from last season in Colton St. Clair, a talented forward from the same club that has verbally committed to Colorado College, though the club still hopes to recruit him to play with the Ice.
"If we can recruit him then it will be a bonus, if not then we'll approach the same way we're approaching St. Clair. We're willing to take the risk because with Cody and Colton they are both very high-end players with high-end skill and they could definitely play in our league."