A rundown of players from the WHL that I think will have the biggest impacts on their on NHL clubs in the future.
1. Sven Bartschi LW Portland Winter Hawks - Selected by Calgary Flames Round 1 #13 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP47 G33 A61 P94 +15
- Bartschi attacking style off the wings will be very beneficial to the Flames in the very near future. Can make plays in a multitude of ways. A good blend of power and cerebral play. Got some games in with the Flames this year and made an impact. Bartschi could be playing full time with the Flames as soon as next season.
2. Emerson Etem RW Medicine Hat Tigers - Selected by Anaheim Ducks Round 1 #29 overall 2010 NHL Draft GP65 G61 A46 P107 +29
- Etem plays a power winger style that is tough for defenses to handle. A blend of speed and braun cutting in off the wings. Can score through crashing the net or shooting from the outside. Etem could be ready to play for the Ducks as soon as next year but may see some time in the AHL.
3. Mark Stone RW Brandon Wheat Kings - Selected by Ottawa Senators Round 6 #178 overall 2010 NHL Draft GP66 G41 A82 P123 +45
- Stone is more of a methodical power forward as opposed to the top two. Uses puck possession and vision to put up points. Will likely need a year in the AHL to adapt to the pro style but is very much a hidden 6th round gem that Ottawa may have uncovered.
4. Brett Bulmer RW Kelowna Rockets - Selected by Minnesota Wild Round 2 #39 overall 2010 Draft GP53 G34 A28 P62 +10
- Bulmer is another power rusher off the wings. Not quite the finishing ability of Bartschi or Etem, but will still be a handful nonetheless. Could use a year in the AHL but showed himself to be not out of place in the NHL when he got a 9 game look with the Wild.
5. Brendan Gallagher RW Vancouver Giants - Selected by Montreal Canadiens Round 5 #147 overall 2010 NHL Draft GP54 G41 A36 P77 +19
- Has Jordan Eberle type qualities where he is able to create space and seems and then use a quick release to handcuff goalies. Gallagher is a very smart hockey player that will help the Canadians with their goal scoring woes. Will likely be a AHL/NHL tweener next year.
6. Brendan Shinnimin C Tri-City Americans - Signed by the Phoenix Coyotes GP69 G58 A76 P134 +45
- Shinnimin had about as dynamic a year as anyone in the WHL this year. Led the league in scoring and plays the game the right way. Full of energy and creativity. Phoenix found themselves a real gem here and will likely be an offensive assassin for Phoenix after needing a year or two in the AHL.
7. Patrick Holland RW Tri-City Americans - Selected by Calgary Flames Round 7 #193 overall 2010 NHL Draft GP72 G25 A84 P109 +42
- Saw a 47 point boost in his totals this year. Has emerged as an off the wing type playmaker. Thicker body that can test defenses on the rush. Was traded from Calgary to Montreal this year and will likely be Gallagher's teammate next year in Hamilton.
8. Joe Morrow D Portland Winter Hawks - Selected by Pittsburgh Penguins Round 1 #23 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP62 G17 A47 P64 +6
- Morrow is a smooth puck moving Dman with excellent offensive instincts. Morrow is a decent defender that is at his best when he has the puck. A real asset on the power play. Morrow was a very late cut for the Penguins this season and will push to make the team again next season.
9. Mark McNeill C Prince Albert Raiders - Selected by Chicago Blackhawks Round 1 #18 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP69 G31 A40 P71 -10
- McNeill's game is at its best when he is skating and he has the puck. A dynamic player off the rush. McNeill still needs to learn the finer points of defensive play. Is eligible to play in Prince Albert one more year. It would be wise if he did so to improve his overall game and put up better numbers.
10. Quinton Howden LW Moose Jaw Warriors - Selected by Florida Panthers Round 1 #25 overall 2010 NHL Draft GP52 G30 A35 P65 +10
- Howden is another off the wing speedster. Probably the fastest of the bunch but also the player with the least amount of finishing ability. Howden's biggest asset will be his versatility at the next level. He can play in a variety of roles and be very good at all of them. Will likely play in the AHL next year.
11. Matej Stransky RW Saskatoon Blades - Selected by Dallas Stars Round 6 #165 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP70 G39 A42 P81 +6
- Stransky is a big bodied winger that is dangerous off the rush. Puck possesion is his game but needs to work on strength and balance in order to thrive at the next level. Has a game built for the NHL. To find a player of Stransky's ability in the 6th round is a great find for the Stars. Will likely need a year or two in the AHL. Eligible to play for Saskatoon again next year.
12. Tyler Bunz G Medicine Hat Tigers - Selected by Edmonton Oilers Round 5 #121 overall 2010 NHL Draft GAA2.57 W39 L17 SOL5 S%.921 SO3
- Tyler Bunz has improved year after year after his draft year. To point now, where I feel he is the best goaltender in the WHL. A hybrid style of goaltender. To find a goaltender that plays the butterfly well but still has the athleticism to make recovery saves are very hard to find. Bunz will likely play in the ECHL with some cups of coffee in the AHL next year.
13. Martin Gernat D Edmonton Oil Kings - Selected by Edmonton Oilers Round 5 #122 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP60 G9 A46 P55 +41
- Martin Gernat has had a fine rookie campaign for the Oil Kings. Quickly established himself as the offensive conscience of the defense by using his low, booming shot or through jumping in the play. A big frame that is mobile are hard to find and the Oilers looked to have found a gem in Gernat. Gernat with either be back with the Oil Kings or start his pro career in Oklahoma City. As of right now, I'd say its 50/50.
14. Ty Rattie RW Portland Winter Hawks - Selected by St. Louis Blues Round 2 #32 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP69 G57 A64 P121 +23
- Ty Rattie saw a 42 point increase this season to finish 3rd in WHL scoring. Rattie is an offensive dynamo that creates offense through speed and vision. Need to work on strength to add to his slight frame without losing speed. Should be an intriguing prospect to follow to see if his offense can translate to the pros. Will likely be back in Portland for another year.
15. Brenden Kichton D Spokane Chiefs - Selected by New York Islanders Round 5 #127 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP71 G17 A57 P74 +24
- Kichton's game is one of continual evolution. He broke into the league as smallish defensive defenseman and now his offensive game has evloved so much he is now a puck moving, offensive Dman. Kichton ability to breakdown defenders, especially on the power play, is something that he will rely on heavily at the pro level. Kichton likely could use a year or two in the AHL to work on the finer points of playing defense but playing in the Islanders orgainization, he may get to the bigs sooner than that.
16. Michael St. Croix RW Edmonton Oil Kings - Selected by New York Rangers Round 4 #106 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP72 G45 A60 P105 +40
- St. Croix enjoyed his best season to date and emerged as the offensive catalyst of the Oil Kings. St. Croix game is one built on speed, vision and craftiness. His sense of timing is very good around the offensive zone. Should likely be back with the Oil Kings next season.
17. Michael Ferland LW Brandon Wheat Kings - Selected by Calgary Flames Round 5 #133 overall 2010 NHL Draft GP68 G47 A49 P96 +17
- Ferlund enjoyed a breakout year with the Wheat Kings this year. A bullish winger that is a terror off the rush. Even if the offense doesn't translate to the pros, he should enjoy a significant career as a utility player. A player that can play a variety of roles. Ferlund will start his pro career next year.
18. Duncan Siemens D Saskatoon Blades - Selected by Colorado Avalanche Round 1 #11 overall 2011 NHL Draft GP57 G6 A22 P28 +12
- Siemens has had another solid season for the Blades. Siemens plays the gamea great deal of poise and toughness. Chips in offensively here and there but his real value is he plays the other teams toughs, often to stalemates. Siemens was barley eligible for the 2011 draft having an early September birthday. Will likely be back to Saskatoon next year.
19. Dylan McIlrath D Moose Jaw Warriors - Selected by New York Rangers Round 1 #10 overall 2010 NHL Draft GP52 G3 A20 P23 +7
- As an old school gladiator, you have to admire the toughness and aggression with McIlrath plays the game. As hockey moves towards a more kinder, gentler version, players like McIlrath may be a dying breed. Still plays the game with a lot of poise for a big man and knows when to engage in the physical aspect. Should start his pro career in the fall.
20. Max Reinhart C Kootenay Ice - Selected by Calgary Flames Round 3 #64 overall 2010 NHL Entry Draft GP61 G28 A50 P78 +19
-Reinhart should prove to be a very versatile piece for the Flames going forward. Can play in a variety of roles and still put up offense. Smooth skater that does a very efficeint job of creating quick strike offense. Should join Ferland next year in playing with the Abbottsford Heat in the AHL.