This year's bantam draft for the Western Hockey League got underway this morning, with nine players from St. Albert seeing their names get called in the first three rounds.
With the seventh overall pick, the Prince Albert Raiders selected 14-year-old Ty Meunier, who's coming off an absurd showing with the U15 AAA St. Albert Sabres this past season.
In just 32 games Meunier recorded 54 goals and 34 assists, enough to lead league scoring by eight points. Meunier's 54 goals were 20 more than the second most prolific U15 Alberta Elite Hockey League scorer in 2022-2023.
With the very next pick in the draft the Vancouver Giants selected Spruce Grove-born centreman Brett Olson, who played with the U18 AAA St. Albert Raiders this past season as one of the youngest players on the team.
Olson registered a slick 30 points in 38 games with the Raiders this past season, which was good enough for fourth on the team's scoring leaderboard.
St. Albert-born goaltender Parker Snell saw his name get called in the second round by the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Snell, who played for the U15 Northern Alberta Extreme this past season, will head to an Oil Kings team known to pump out NHL quality goalies, such as Tristan Jarry, Laurent Brossoit, and Sebastian Cossa, who was selected 15th overall in the 2021 NHL entry draft.
Snell recorded shutouts in four of his 16 starts with the Extreme this year. Oh, and the team didn't lose a single game in which he was the starter.
Another goalie, Finn Werner, was the next local player to be drafted today.
Werner was selected 54th overall by the Everett Silvertips, a team based in the U.S state of Washington.
Playing with Meunier on the U15 AAA St. Albert Sabres, Werner recorded a shocking 21-1 win-loss record this past season.
This past January, Werner was named best goalie in the 2023 John Reid Memorial tournament, an honour that saw him feature in a Gazette article at the time.
A third player from this year's Sabres squad was selected by the Tri-City Americans immediately after Werner, Jesse McKinnon.
McKinnon, a left-winger, recorded 20 goals and 31 assists in just 33 games with the Sabres this past season.
By drafting McKinnon, the Americans team ensures their roster contains at least some Botanical Arts City-raised talent as Marc Lajoie, the team's most recent captain, was traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings earlier today.
With the 61st overall pick in today's draft, the Regina Pats selected St. Albert-born centreman Cameron Kuzma.
Kuzma played for four different teams last year, most notably HC Edmonton U15.
With HC Edmonton, Kuzma put up 22 points in only eight games. In his 11 games with the U15 Delta Hockey Academy Prep team, Kuzma had 16 points in 11 games.
A fourth member of the U15 AAA St. Albert Sabres was chosen by the Kelowna Rockets in the seventh round of the draft, Sullivan Fogolin.
Fogolin, who's set to turn 15 later this month, registered 12 assists as a defenceman with the Sabres this past season.
Yet another member of that same Sabres team was selected in the ninth round by the Victoria Royals, Mathieu Lajoie, the who is the younger cousin of Marc Lajoie.
Mathieu put up big numbers for the Sabres last season, 18 goals and 52 assists, which was second in overall team scoring behind Meunier.
Surprise, yet another member of the Sabres was drafted, goaltender Kai Zurowski.
Zurowski, 15, served mainly as Werner's backup for the Sabres this past season, although he still won 10 of his 11 starts, including two shutouts.
Like Kuzma, Zurowski was selected by the Regina Pats. He was taken 188th overall.
By time of publication the WHL draft was approaching the 11th of the 15 total rounds.
The Gazette will have updates if more local talent is drafted.