Rockets 2012 Draft Picks: WHO ARE THEY?
Here's the Kelowna Rockets draft picks taken in the 2012 WHL bantam draft held in Calgary.
9 Nick Merkley C Calgary, AB 5-9, 162lbs Calgary Bisons Bantam AAA
"We think he's a dynamic young player," said Director of player personnel Lorne Frey. "He's quick and very unselfish. He moves the puck very, very well. We're excited. We think we got another dynamic young player."
A 5-foot-9 forward, Merkley led the Bisons in scoring in the Alberta Bantam Hockey League this year, putting up 73 points in 32 league games. Overall Merkley played in 56 games with the Bisons, scoring 68 goals and adding 50 assists.
31 (to Regina for Bell)
34 (from Brandon via Saskatoon for McColgan) Joe Gatenby D Calgary, AB 5-11, 150lbs POE bantam team 1
"He's mobile, an excellent skater with good size, your typical modern-day defenceman," Frey said of Gatenby.
Gatenby played with the Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna last season where the 5-foot-11 blueliner had 23 goals and 50 assists in 60 games.
45 (from Prince Albert for Corbin) Chris Seto LW Surrey, BC 5-10, 160lbs Cloverdale bantam tier 1
53 (to Prince George for Rigby)
75 Christian Cakebread RW Chandler, AZ 5-11, 155lbs Phoenix Firebirds U-14
97 (to Saskatoon for Scissons)
101 (from Saskatoon for Astles) Jake Morrissey G Calgary, AB 5-11, 140lbs Calgary Royals bantam AAA
119 Lucas Johansen D Port Moody, BC 5-10, 145lbs Port Moody bantam tier 2
141 Jarrell Pinchuk D Fort Saskatchewan, AB 5-10, 160lbs Fort Saskatchewan bantam AAA
163 (to Tri City for Stebner)
185 Kristan Pangura D Kimberley, BC 6-0, 168lbs Cranbrook bantam AA
207 Brogan O'Brien C Prince George, BC 5-11, 160lbs Prince George bantam tier 1
229 Luigi Naccarato D Edmonton, AB 5-11, 190lbs Edmonton MLAC bantam AAA
Big move at WHL Bantam Draft
The Kelowna Rockets have gotten bigger and younger after a WHL draft-day deal with the Saskatoon Blades.
The Rockets traded leading scorer Shane McColgan and forward Jessey Astles to Saskatoon on Thursday, acquiring centre Ryan Olsen, 18, a 6-foot-2 Tsawassenn, B.C. native. The Rockets also receive two 2012 draft picks in return, Saskatoon's 2nd and 5th round picks in the draft, being held today in Calgary.
Olsen had 15 goals and 32 points last season with the Blades, his second full season in the WHL.
Rockets coach Ryan Huska described Olsen as a two-way centre.
"Ryan is the big two way centre we have been looking for," said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. "He has good offensive ability and we look forward to developing him into an important member of our hockey club."
"We were looking for a big forward and Ryan has good size," added Rockets' president and general manager Bruce Hamilton. "We wanted to add size and this trade also addresess our needs at this draft. We now have a second round pick and we think Ryan is going to be a great addition."
In making the trade, the Rockets will part ways with McColgan, the team's leading scorer last season. McColgan and Astles are both 19 and both spent three seasons in Kelowna.
Hamilton thanked the players for their commitment to the Rockets organization.
"In losing Shane, we're losing our leading scorer," said Hamilton. "I think a fresh start will be good for him. With Jessey, we have a number of guys that play like him and that allowed us to move him. We wish both players all the best."
The Rockets now have two additional draft picks in the 2012 bantam draft in Calgary. Heading into the draft, Kelowna didn't have a second round pick. They will now use Saskatoon's spot (13th). The Rockets also own Prince Albert's third round selection, the second pick.
Interestingly, the 5th round draft pick returns Kelowna's original draft spot that the club dealt away to acquire captain Colton Sissons.
Rockets excited about prospects
By Larry Fisher
Lorne Frey made 10 picks in the 2012 WHL bantam draft - two of which he considers potential steals.
Landing Lucas Johansen in the sixth round and Christian Cakebread in the fourth could be quite the coups, according to Kelowna's draft guru and director of player personnel.
Johansen, selected 119th overall during Thursday's draft, is a defenceman from Port Moody and the younger brother of Ryan Johansen, a forward for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, formerly of the Portland Winterhawks.
"I honestly think he might be the steal this year," said Frey, who found Brett Bulmer in the 11th round of the 2007 draft and Damon Severson in the ninth round in 2009, among his many diamond-in-the-rough discoveries. "For where we got (Johansen), I just think his upside is huge. I was a little bit shocked at that (given the bloodlines)."
Lucas Johansen stands 5-foot-10 at 14 years old but should top six-feet, as Ryan, now 6-3, enjoyed a late growth spurt while playing for the BCHL's Penticton Vees a few years back (2008-09).
"You can see he's going to be a big guy, a lot of growth left in him, I think," Frey said of Lucas. "He's an excellent skater and a very smart, intelligent player. Maybe a lot of people didn't see him during the year. We had heard about him, but we didn't see him until the B.C. Cup. I think he went under the radar with a lot of teams because he played in Port Moody, and I don't think a lot of (scouts) really seen Port Moody play.
"From playing there on not a great team, then stepping into the B.C. Cup with all the top guys, he certainly didn't look out of place at all. I think he could be a very good player for us."
Cakebread is a bit of a different story. A forward from Chandler, Ariz., he was a well-known commodity but likely fell to 75th overall because of his American roots. Had he been born and raised in B.C., Cakebread might have been a first-round pick - at least in the eyes of Rockets assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert, who helped identify him at a prospects camp in Anaheim.
"He has a chance to be a big-time player if we can land him," Frey boasted, noting another Kelowna scout winters in Phoenix and also raved about the 5-foot-11 right-winger who played for the Phoenix Firebirds U-14 team last season. "From what we hear, he is one of the top (1997-born) players in the U.S., and that's why we may have trouble getting him. I think there's interest there, but we'll have to wait and see."
The Rockets have been hit-and-miss in luring American prospects north of the border. Shane McColgan, from Manhattan Beach, Calif., Kelowna's leading scorer the past two seasons, who was recently traded to Saskatoon, was a hit in the first round (13th overall) of the 2008 bantam draft. But Luke Moffatt was a miss at second overall in 2007, instead taking his talents through the U.S. National Development Team to the University of Michigan.
The Rockets opted for more of a sure thing with their second- and third-round picks. At 34th overall, Kelowna stayed close to home by selecting Calgary transplant Joe Gatenby, a defenceman for Kelowna-based Pursuit of Excellence. And, with the 45th pick, the Rockets took Surrey sniper Chris Seto, who they see as a future complement to first-rounder Nick Merkley, a playmaking centre picked ninth overall out of Calgary.
Frey described Gatenby as "your typical, modern-day defenceman that is an excellent skater with very good skills and who can move the puck very well." He's 5-foot-11 and still growing, though he might not have as much offensive upside as current Kelowna blue-liners, Jesse Lees and Madison Bowey, former first- and second-round picks, respectively, in 2010.
As for Seto, "He's a scorer and that's why we took him," Frey said. "Merkley is so unselfish with the puck and if you've got somebody that can shoot, you've got a chance to score some goals. And Seto can score goals; he's really crafty and he's great around the net. He competes and he can shoot. He reminds me a little bit of Ty Rattie."
Kelowna also added a goaltender, Jake Morrissey of Calgary, in the fifth round (101st overall). With veteran netminder Adam Brown graduating from the junior ranks and incumbent starter Jordon Cooke turning 19 next month, the Rockets needed to address their future between the pipes.
Frey said Cam Barnes, an 18-year-old from Calgary who played for the AJHL's Canmore Eagles last season, is expected to be Cooke's backup next season, but Morrissey could find a role in the years to come.
"We're not great with (drafting) goaltenders, but everybody seems pretty confident with him, so we're hoping he'll turn out for us," Frey said of Morrissey. "This year, in all honesty, our plan was to probably take a goalie in the second round. There were three that we were interested in, but the first one (Patrick Dea) went to Edmonton (with the last pick of the first round) and then all of the sudden the next two went bang, bang. So we had to go back to the drawing board a bit and Morrissey is the other guy our scouts really liked."
Five goalies were selected before Kelowna's second pick, including Morrissey's partner with the Calgary Royals, Zachary Sawchenko, 33rd overall to Moose Jaw.
Our scout in Calgary thought Morrissey was the better of the two," Frey said. "He had pretty good numbers this season, a real good save-percentage, and he actually has a brother that plays in Prince Albert (17-year-old defenceman Josh Morrissey)."
Not much went according to script for the Rockets on draft day, at least not in the later rounds. Frey said the plan was to focus on forward depth, but defencemen emerged as the better options with four of their last five picks.
"The funny thing is we ended up taking five defencemen. I really don't know if we wanted to do that," Frey said. "We were looking for forwards, but there was nothing that really appealed to us, so that's why we went ahead and took those guys."
Kelowna also drafted (position, name, round, pick, hometown): D Jarrell Pinchuk, seventh, 141st, Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.; D Kristan Pagura, ninth, 185th, Kimberley; C Brogan O'Brien, 10th, 207th, Prince George; D Luigi Naccarato, 11th, 229th, Edmonton.