WHL US Draft: Preview

For the first time in its history the WHL Draft will be conducting a draft solely for US born players. This draft will take place this afternoon at 2pm MDT.

NZ has put together a list of every US born player drafted in the top 150 in the WHL Draft since 2015. You can click on every prospect and go to their individual player profile.

There has only been 1 first-round pick and only 4 second-round picks in the past 5 years of drafts which shows the difficulty the WHL has in drafting US born bantams. Of the 59 players who have been drafted from the US in the top 150 of the WHL Draft only 11 have actually signed with those teams (so far).

US Players Drafted in Top 150 of WHL Draft from 2015-19

NameRoundOverallDraft YrStar RatingWhere are they now?
Luke Toporowski1820164.25Spokane (WHL)
Luke Reid22720164.75Chicago Steel (USHL)
Josh Niedermayer23020194OHA (CSSHL)
Jake Hoffrogge24120183.75Sask Contacts (SMHL)
Gabe Ludwig24220194Pitt Elite U15 (NEP)
Ty Smilanic35120174.75NTDP U18 (Ind)
Bryan Lockner35820153.5Medicine Hat (WHL)
Hunter Campbell36020163.5Everett (WHL)
Zane Rowan36120193.75Delta (CSSHL)
Ty Murchison36320184.5NTDP U17 (USHL)
Braxton Whitehead36620193.75Pitt Elite U15 (NEP)
Jake Sanderson46720174.75NTDP U18 (Ind)
Erik Middendorf46720154.25Chicago Steel (USHL)
Coleton Panowyk46820173.25Georgetown (OJHL)
Ryan Savage46820154.25Miami-Ohio (NCAA)
David Hymovitch46920184Phoenix U16 (T1EHL)
Alex Bolshakov46920173.75Victoria (WHL)
Chaz Lucius47420185NTDP U17 (USHL)
Cross Hanas47720174.5Portland (WHL)
Camden Shasby48320193.75Fox Motors (T1EHL)
Jackson Desouza48420184Okanagan (BCMML)
Garrett Brown48520193.5San Jose (T1EHL)
Josh Langford48520163.75Topeka (NAHL)
Michael Gildon48620164.5Ohio State (NCAA)
Tyler Dysart48820193.75San Jose (T1EHL)
Zach Michaelis48820173.75Elk River HS (MN HS)
Nick Castro58920152.75Yellowstone (NA3HL)
Aidan Hreschuk59020185NTDP U17 (USHL)
Jack Niedermayer59020163.75Penticton (BCHL)
Dino Kambeitz59020153.75Lethbridge (WHL)
Erik Atchison59420173.5Spokane (WHL)
Dylan Silverstein59520194Dexter (NE Prep)
Colton Langkow59920193.75Phoenix U15 (T1EHL)
Matthew Ng510020193.5Culver U16 (Ind)
Riley Stuart510420173.75Dubuque (USHL)
Dustin Wolfe510420164.5Everett (WHL)
Jack Barnes510420153.5Penticton (BCHL)
James Hong510820193.5Anaheim (T1EHL)
Ryan O’Reilly510920154.25Green Bay (USHL)
Dawson Butt611820153.75Everett (WHL)
Nik Norman611820163.5Chippewa (NAHL)
Hunter Strand612020174.25NTDP U18 (Ind)
Hayden Cox612120183.5Compuware (HPHL)
True Crowe612220173.25Aurora (OJHL)
Luke Schelter612420193.5Mt. St. Charles (NEP)
Stanislav Demin612720154.5Denver (NCAA)
Will Brown612920153Retired
Jackson Dylla613220173.5Dallas Stars (T1EHL)
Devlin McCabe713520153.75Minnesota (NAHL)
Jaxon Nelson713720154.25Minnesota (NCAA)
Matthew Gross714120183.75Phoenix U16 (T1EHL)
Cal Sandquist714120163.75Corpus Christi (NAHL)
Aidan Thompson714320174Berkshire (NE Prep)
Paul Minnehan714620184.25NJ Avalanche (NEP)
Ryan Robinson714620164Des Moines (USHL)
Jeff Montoya714720172.75Phoenix U18 (T1EHL)
Nicholas Kent714720164Vernon (BCHL)
Jace Foskey714820154Harvard (NCAA)
Ryan Nutt715020183.25Lake Forest (MPHL)

The new US WHL Draft will allow the WHL programs to focus more on the best players in the US instead of having to guess what round they can afford to take a prospect at.

“We are seeing just over 7% of the WHL Draft in the top 150 selections are Americans and of those picks only 18% of those prospects are signing with the teams,” said Donald Godreau, Director of Western Canadian scouting for Neutral Zone. “This means less than 2% of the last 5 years of WHL drafted Americans who went in the top 150 spots have been signed. So it was clear a change needed to be made to the system and we feel this is a good step so GM’s and scouts don’t have to worry if they should take a player in the 3rd round or 6th round not knowing if the player will report or not.”

Donald also suggests it will bulk up teams scouting efforts in the US now that they have to draft two rounds of US talent before their draft begins. “Some teams spend more time than others in the US, some have full time scouts in Minnesota or Western US but this should collectively improve the leagues scouting and recruiting efforts south of the border.”

The WHL also made the date of this draft over a month before the regular WHL Draft which allows teams to start educating US players and parents on the WHL route and their specific programs. “It will be interesting to track the impact of the new NCAA recruiting rules and how that impacts Western US prospects,” said Donald. “All the WHL teams will have the ability to offer a contract to these prospects before the NCAA schools can even talk to them which could be a real advantage to the WHL going forward.”

# of US Born prospects drafted in Top 150 in WHL Draft from 2015-2019

YearUS Top 150Players Signed

Check back with NZ after the draft tonight to get insight on the players selected!

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images