Raiders Take 11 in 2016 WHL Bantam Draft

Prince Albert, SK – The Prince Albert Raiders have selected 11 players to complete the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.

Of the 11 players taken by the Raiders on Thursday in Calgary, AB, six came from Saskatchewan. Three players were drafted from Alberta, along with one from the Northwest Territories and one from Colorado. The Raiders selected six forwards, four defenceman, and one goaltender.

“We came to the draft looking to develop some size to complement the group we selected last year,” explained Raiders Director of Player Personnel Ron Gunville. “We emphasized adding character and size. We needed to add some top-end defencemen to support the group from our 2015 draft class and we believe we did that.”

Round 1

With their first pick, 13th overall, the Raiders selected defenceman Rhett Rinehart from the Yale Hockey Academy Bantam Prep team. The Lloydminster, AB product compiled five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in 25 contests. He also spent time last year with Yale’s Elite 15s squad where he skated in five games.

“Rhett is a big strong defenceman who improved as the season went on and shows a lot of room for growth and skill development,” said Gunville. “He is a very physical kid who has very good puck-skills.”

Round 2

In the second round, the Raiders used the 35th overall selection to take defenceman Adam Herold of Montmartre, SK. Playing for the Balgonie Prairie Storm Bantam AA club, Herold recorded 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points in 29 contests. He also played one game with the Moose Jaw Generals of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL).

“We were very excited to be able to get Adam, we had him much higher on our list. He is a big strong defenceman who can play in all situations,” said Gunville.

With their second pick of the second round, Prince Albert used the 42nd overall pick to draft centre Eric Pearce. A Regina, SK product, Pearce netted 51 goals and added 20 helpers for 71 points in 30 games with the Regina Aces Bantam AA squad. Pearce also dressed in five games for the Regina Pat Canadians of the SMAAAHL where he picked up two assists.

“Eric is probably the most pure goal scorer in the draft. He has great size and bloodlines and projects as a big strong power forward for us,” noted Gunville.

Round 3

The Raiders acquired the 51st overall selection in the WHL Bantam Draft from the Tri-City Americans in exchange for 1996-born defenceman Dalton Yorke. Prince Albert used that pick to take goaltender Brett Balas from Calgary, AB. In 19 games with the Calgary Flames Bantam AAA team, Balas earned nine wins and posted a 2.55 goals-against average with a 0.926 save percentage.

“We were very happy to get Brett during a run of goaltenders taken in the early rounds. We love his size and athleticism and see him as a real gamer,” said Gunville.

Later in the third round, with the 57th selection, Prince Albert choose forward Luc Marleau of Tisdale, SK. Marleau spent the 2015-16 season with the North East Wolfpack Bantam AA club where he scored 24 goals and collected 22 assists for 46 points in 27 contests. Marleau also got into the line-up for five games with the SMAAAHL’s Tisdale Trojans and scored one goal.

“We had a chance to watch Luc a lot this season and view him as someone who competes very hard, much like a Tim Vanstone. He skates really well and is a strong physical kid,” explained Gunville.

Round 4

With their sixth pick, 79th overall, the Raiders grabbed forward Arsenii Smekhnov. The Aurora, CO resident skated for the Colorado Evolution Elite U14 team in 2015-16. In 22 games, Smekhnov tallied 22 goals and eight assists for 30 points. He attended the 2016 WHL U.S. Combine in April.

“Arsenii came highly recommended by our scout Dave Faulkner and was voted as the top forward at the WHL U.S. Combine in California. We identified him early as someone who could be a big-time player in our league with good size and skill,” said Gunville.

Round 6

Prince Albert drafted forward Quinn Olson of Calgary, AB with the 128th overall pick in the sixth round. Olson played 36 games during the 2015-16 season with the Calgary Bisons Bantam AAA team where he scored 10 goals and added 33 assists for 43 points.

“Quinn is a smaller forward who has great hockey sense. He has a great skill level and has quick feet. He has family who plays in the league and comes from a great hockey-committed family,” explained Gunville.

Round 8

The Raiders took defenceman Mkyllan Couture with the 167th pick in the eighth round. A product of Pilot Butte, SK, Couture played for the Balgonie Prairie Storm Bantam AA team where he netted eight goals and five assists for 13 points in 30 games.

“Mkyllan is a very competitive kid who works hard and has improved his overall game. He carries a good level of grit and toughness to his game and comes with a strong recommendation as a player with lots of room to grow,” said Gunville.

Round 9

With their ninth round pick, 189th overall, the Raiders nabbed winger Aiden Bulych of Yorkton, SK. In 30 games last season with the Yorkton Terriers Bantam AA team, Bulych collected 24 goals and 29 assists for 53 points. He also dressed in one game with the Yorkton RawTec Maulers of the SMAAAHL.

“Aiden became a player who we couldn’t pass up at this point in the draft. He has a big time shot and comes with a lot of offensive talent. He is another player who we project as a strong power forward,” noted Gunville.

Round 10

The Raiders went to the Northwest Territories with their 10th round selection as they picked forward Connor Fleming with the 211th overall pick. Fleming, who played for the Yellowknife Wolfpack Bantam A team, represented the Northwest Territories at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C.

“Connor was brought to our attention by our scout Curt Brownlee. He fell in love with his compete and effort level after seeing him at a tournament mid-way through the season,” explained Gunville.

Round 11

In Round 11, 233rd overall, the Raiders drafted Logan Rawlyk from Saskatoon, SK. During the 2015-16 season, Rawlyk dressed for the Saskatoon Frostbite Bantam AA squad where he posted three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 31 contests.

“We were very excited to be able to grab Logan with our last pick. He brings a really strong physical element to his game and is someone who can clear the front of the net and play with a lot of grit,” said Gunville.


Raiders 2016 WHL Bantam Draft Summary
Round 1 13 Rhett Rhinehart
Round 2 35 Adam Herold
Round 2 42 Eric Pearce
Round 3 51 Brett Balas
Round 3 57 Luc Marleau
Round 4 79 Arsenii Smekhnov
Round 6 128 Quinn Olson
Round 8 167 Mkyllan Couture
Round 9 189 Aiden Bulych
Round 10 211 Connor Fleming
Round 11 233 Logan Rawlyk


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