© File Photo
Prince Albert Raiders general manager Bruno Campese goes over some notes as he prepares for the annual Western Hockey League bantam draft next Thursday in Calgary.
In exactly one week the Prince Albert Raiders will be adding more assets to the organization when the Western Hockey League’s annual bantam draft is held in Calgary.
Following a much-improved season, the Raiders slip to the 13th pick overall and general manager Bruno Campese says that is a sign that the team has turned things around.
“The last couple of years we had higher picks,” noted Campese while enroute to Alberta for one final busy weekend of evaluations. “You can look at it as a good thing that we aren’t picking as high because that shows we are doing the right things.”
The Raiders had the third overall pick last year and with that spot they selected defenseman Brendan Guhle from Alberta. Then with the 23rd pick overall they grabbed goaltender Nick McBride from British Columbia.
Both of those players, along with netminder Rylan Parenteau who was a third-round pick in 2011 and is presently tending goal for the Saskatoon Contacts at the Telus Cup national midget hockey championship, will be strong candidates to crack the line-up this year as the Raiders have some holes to fill with the graduation of overagers Luke Siemens, Anthony Bardaro and Davis Vandane in addition to Mark McNeill and Harrison Ruopp moving on to begin their professional careers.
Last year at the bantam draft, Campese worked a deal with the Moose Jaw Warriors to land Siemens to fill a glaring need in goal and although he never spoke of anything like that was being in the works this time around, there is always a possibility of something like that coming to light.
What Campese did indicate, however, is that his scouting staff is prepared to have another successful year selecting prospective talent.
“With our first pick we will be going for quality,” says Campese. “It is not about any position or anything. We will be taking the best player possible that has been identified by our scouting staff.”
“Every draft has your top players, but this year in the first round we know we are going to get a good pick,” added Campese, who is fully aware that studs Tyler Benson from Edmonton and Kale Clague from Lloydminster will be long gone before he makes his first selection.
Campese and his staff will be busy in the days leading up to the draft as they spend this weekend in Strathmore, Alta., watching the Alberta Cup tournament that features the top 15-year-old players from that province.
They will then gather all their data collected from the four western provinces and painstakingly go through it so that they are on the same page when draft day takes place. One final review will occur on Wednesday when everyone gets together again in Calgary for the WHL awards banquet and then it will be time to welcome as many as a dozen new players into the Raider organization.
The Raiders have seen a sharp increase in identifying quality talent since head scout Dale Derkatch was brought on board three years ago with players like Josh Morrissey, Reid Gardiner and Tim Vanstone all joining the team as 16-year-olds. It will be interesting to see who the next wave of future Raiders will be.