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WHL draft wraps up with 10 local players getting taken

This year's bantam draft for the Western Hockey League took place on May 11, with nine players from St. Albert seeing their names get called, as well as another Raiders stand-out who was born in Spruce Grove.

This year's bantam draft for the Western Hockey League took place on May 11, with ten players from St. Albert seeing their names get called, as well as another Raiders stand-out who was born in Spruce Grove.

The WHL is one of three major junior hockey leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League, which is the highest level of junior hockey in the country. 

With the seventh overall pick in this year's draft 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 also 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, 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, 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.

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. 

In January, Werner was named best goalie in the 2023 John Reid Memorial tournament, an honour that saw him be featured 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 ensure 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 on draft day. 

With the 61st overall pick in the draft the Regina Pats selected St. Albert-born centreman Cameron Kuzma.

Kuzma, who split last season between two U15 teams while also seeing playing time as an affiliate for two U17 teams, was a key contributor anywhere he went, most notably for 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 then selected in the ninth round by the Victoria Royals, Mathieu Lajoie, who is the younger cousin of previously mentioned 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.

Yet another member of the Sabres was drafted in the ninth round, 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. 

A seventh member of the Sabres, Riley Thorpe, was one of the final picks in the draft.

Thorpe, chosen in the 11th round by the Moose Jaw Warriors, recorded 27 goals and 22 assists with the Sabres this past season.

The 10 local players selected this year is double the amount who were drafted in 2022, and six more than were drafted in 2021.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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