Giants pick Tyler Benson first overall in WHL bantam draft, and other notes

As expected, the Vancouver Giants invested their first overall pick of the 2013 Western Hockey League bantam draft on Edmonton native Tyler Benson.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound winger is regarded as one of the top talents to come out of Western Canada in recent years after his phenomenal season with the SSAC Lions in the AMBHL. He broke St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie’s scoring record, racking up 57 goals and 146 points in 33 games.

“We are very excited to have selected Tyler with the first overall pick. He has proven to be a mature player who doesn’t only produce but also makes everyone around him better,” says Giants’ Executive VP and General Manager, Scott Bonner.

The Regina Pats also looked to Alberta with the second pick in the draft. They chose Sherwood Park native Sam Steel, who scored 52 goals and 104 points in 31 games this year in the AMBHL.

In addition, the Queen City Kids GM Chad Lang made a deal with the Calgary Hitmen for puck-stopper Dawson MacAuley. The 6-foot-5, 212-pounder, who turns 19 in June, is currently playing in the Western Canada Cup with the Yorkton Terriers of the SJHL.

The Prince George Cougars made the first somewhat off-the-wall selection with the third pick. They selected Duncan, B.C., defenceman Josh Anderson, who was ranked 23rd by International Scouting Services and 11th by Western Elite Hockey Prospects. BTN has learned the unwillingness of Winnipeg native Nolan Patrick and Lloydminister native Kale Clague to commit to Prince George played a role in their decision to draft Anderson, though.

The Brandon Wheat Kings made a big splash at the draft. After selecting 6-foot-2, 173-pound winger Nolan Patrick third overall, they dealt puck-stopper Corbin Boes and the 17th overall pick, which they acquired from the Saskatoon Blades for Michael Ferland at the trade deadline, to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the sixth overall pick in the draft. With that selection, the Wheat Kings chose Clague, who the majority of scouts regarded as the top blueliner of the draft.

The trade is the right move by Wheat Kings GM Kelly McCrimmon. He sacrificed a player with only one year left in the Dub to bring in a prospect that is expected to be a significant piece to the puzzle when Brandon is ready to take a run at the Ed Chynoweth Cup. This smart long-term thinking is why the Wheat Kings have dominated the East Division for the last 18 years.

Past the first round, the Wheat Kings added some local talent. They drafted Brandon natives Tanner Kaspick in the second round and Ty Lewis in the third round.

In between the Wheat Kings’ first-round picks, the Moose Jaw Warriors looked to a familiar family with the fifth choice, selecting Winnipeg native Brett Howden, the younger brother to former Warrior and Florida Panthers first-round pick Quinton Howden.

Howden is one of the few bantam prospects who made the jump to midget AAA this year, suiting up for the Eastman Selects of the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League. The 6-foot, 170-pound winger’s transition to the next level was smooth as he finished second on his club in points with 11 goals and 24 points in 30 games.

The Calgary Hitmen, meanwhile, drafted Minnesota Wild first-round Mathew Dumba’s younger brother, Kyle Dumba, in the fourth round with the 68th pick. But unlike his eldest brother who plays defence, the 15-year-old guards the blue paint.

The Everett Silvertips selected the first American in the draft – Patrick Khodorenko – with the 26th pick. The Walnut Creek, CA., native scored nine goals and 26 points in 14 games with the Honeybaked bantam squad.

The Portland Winterhawks didn’t pick until the 121st selection because the league stripped them of several draft picks for player benefit violations. With that draft choice, the Winterhawks picked Carter Czaikowski.

The Notre Dame Hounds program, which is based out of Wilcox, Sk., stood out on the draft floor to say the least. Three Hounds were drafted in the first round: the Spokane Chiefs selected defenceman Jeffrey Fiath 16th overall, the Kelowna Rockets picked centre Dillon Dube 21st overall, and the Seattle Thunderbirds grabbed winger Kaden Elder 22nd overall. Not to mention, eight other Hounds were selected later on in the draft.

Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

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