4Jett Woo
Photo Credit: courtesy WHL

Hitmen make splash at bantam draft, acquire Jett Woo

The Western Hockey League’s annual bantam draft is often an occasion for hockey people to chuckle about the various variations of the name “Brayden.” But the Calgary Hitmen made a big move at Wednesday’s draft when they acquired defenseman Jett Woo.

The Hitmen sent 1999-born import defenseman Vladislav Yeryomenko, 2002-born forward Ryder Korczak, 2019 first round pick and 2021 second round pick to the Moose Jaw Warriors for 2000-born Woo.

Yeryomenko, Nashville’s fifth round pick in 2018, would take up both an import slot and an overage slot next year (as he’ll be considered a 20-year-old under CHL rules). Given that he’s an NHL prospect, it’s improbable that he’ll be suiting up for the Warriors. That uncertainty is likely why the Hitmen had to give up first and second round picks in the deal.

Woo is considered a 19-year-old for next season and will spend the year with the Hitmen. He was the Canucks’ second round pick in 2018 and was an offensive beast last season with 66 points in 62 games. Stylistically he’s a buzz-saw: he’s not huge at six feet tall, but he’s thick and uses his size and physicality intelligently.

The trade nicely sets up Calgary’s defensive pairings for 2019-20:

Egor Zamula – Jett Woo
Jackson van de Leest – Dakota Krebs
Layne Toder – Luke Prokop
(Devan Klassen)

The Hitmen were one of the WHL’s big surprises this past season, bouncing back from a rough start to not only make the playoffs, but beat the impressive Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round. However, the local junior squad had to rely on a committee approach to all aspects of their game as aside from perhaps rookie goaltender Jack McNaughton, they had no stars.

They have a star now on their blueline, and if enough of their young players take a step forward they could be a very formidable force in the WHL’s Central Division.