The newly labeled Winnipeg Ice earned their first win yesterday afternoon when they were awarded the first overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft. The Ice, who played last season, and the 20 seasons previous, in Kootenay will move to Winnipeg for the 2019/20 season.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 20, 2019
The Ice finished 21st of 22 teams in the WHL this notching only 13 wins and 36 points in 68 games. The only team with better odds at today’s lottery was Prince George, who had previously acquired the first round pick belonging to the Swift Current Broncos who managed only 28 points this season and finished last. Winnipeg will pick have picks number 1 and 9 in the first round of the draft which takes place on May 9th.
Matthew Savoie, a high scoring forward from Alberta, was the consensus number one pick for the draft. That was the thought prior to this week anyways. Savoie was recently denied exceptional player status and will not be allowed to play full-time in the WHL next season. Savoie responded to this by committing to the University of Denver. This will make the Ice decision that much harder. If whoever chooses Savoie cannot change his mind, what was once a no brainer pick, becomes a total waste.
Koehn Ziemmer is another Albertan product who will draw interest within the top 5 picks. Ziemmer is another highly skilled prospect who scored 76 points in 29 games this season playing in the CSSHL (Canadian Sport School Hockey League).
Rounding out the current top 3 projections is another Albertan, 5’10 defenseman Keaton Dowhaniuk. Dowhaniuk plays alongside Ziemmer and put up 35 points in 25 games this season.
Winnipeg will be the first city to host an NHL, AHL and WHL team, and though questions remain about the city’s ability to maintain all three teams, there is excitement around the Winnipeg Ice. A first overall pick and two in the top 10 should do nothing but heighten interest in a hockey crazed city.