Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
How is the Western Hockey League crop shaping up for the 2024 NHL Draft?
By Ryan Pike3 months ago
Folks, we’re almost a third of the way through the Western Hockey League’s regular season schedule. Given that, enough time has probably passed in this season that we can see how the 2024 NHL Draft crop from the WHL is shaping up.
So far, there are a few prominent prospects that are looking like strong prospects.
To provide a bit of a snapshot of probable top prospects, we’re using the draft tiers from FC Hockey and the NHL’s Central Scouting Service. For both organizations, players rated A are potential first-rounders, while B-rated players are potential second or third-rounders. The two tiers were released in October – FC’s on Oct. 13, Central Scouting’s on Oct. 25 – so this season’s performances likely didn’t impact them a ton.
(These players were rated As on both rankings.)
C Berkly Catton – Spokane Chiefs
Catton was ranked 9th on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. He captain Canada Red at the Under-17s and Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and he’s captured medals at the U-17s (bronze), Under-18s (bronze) and Hlinka Gretzky Cup (gold). Through 16 games, he had 11 goals and 23 points. Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis referred to him as “the best playmaker in the draft.”
LW Tanner Howe – Regina Pats
Howe was ranked 29th on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. Now in his third full WHL season, Regina’s captain has already won bronze at the U18s and gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He had 14 goals and 29 points through 22 games. Ellis: “Beyond the scoresheet, he’s a respected leader, and there’s a reason why he’s already wearing the “C.””
RW Ryder Ritchie – Prince Albert Raiders
Ritchie was ranked 11th on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. The son of former Flames forward Byron Ritchie, Ritchie won gold with Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and was named the WHL’s Rookie of the Year last season. So far this season, he has 12 goals and 25 points through 23 games. Ellis noted: “He’s a good small-area player and moves well enough everywhere to put himself in a scoring position.”
D Carter Yakemchuk – Calgary Hitmen
Yakemchuk was ranked 15th on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. He’s a right shot defender listed at 6’3″ and 194 pounds, and plays a big role in every situation for the Hitmen. (No wonder why scouts love him.) Through 19 games, he had nine goals and 23 points for the Hitmen.
(These players were rated As on one of the two rankings.)
D Charlie Elick – Brandon Wheat Kings
Elick was ranked 22nd on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. In a sense, he’s Yaremchuk without the offensive numbers: he’s a right shot defender listed at 6’3″ and 199 pounds, but has one goal and eight points through 21 games. Ellis: “At his core, Elick has the makings of a shutdown defenseman that, as long as he keeps his offensive game simple, should have no issue adjusting to the pro game.”
C Adam Jecho – Edmonton Oil Kings
Jecho was ranked 38th on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. He’s big (6’5″, 201 pounds), won silver at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and is in his first WHL season after two seasons spent playing in high-level Swedish junior hockey. He had eight goals and 18 points through 19 games. Ellis: “Some scouts think he’s a lock for the first round.”
C Cayden Lindstrom – Medicine Hat Tigers
Lindstrom was ranked 7th on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. He’s listed at 6’4″ and 215 pounds and he won gold with Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. The Chetwynd, B.C. product had 15 goals and 26 points through his first 21 games. “From talking to a few WHL defenders, Lindstrom might be the most feared player in a 1-on-1 situation due to his combination of speed, skill and pure mass.”
(These players were rated Bs on both rankings.)
LW Andrew Basha – Medicine Hat Tigers
Basha is a Calgary kid in this third full WHL season. He had seven goals and 25 points through 21 games.
C Ollie Josephson – Red Deer Rebels
A gold medallist at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Josephson had two goals and nine points through his first 19 games.
RW Carson Wetsch – Calgary Hitmen
A medallist from the U17s (silver) and U18s (gold), Wetsch had six goals and 11 points through 19 games.
(These players were rated Bs on one of the two rankings.)
LW Clarke Caswell – Swift Current Broncos
A Brandon product, Caswell had seven goals and 20 points through 21 games.
C Maximilian Curran – Tri-City Americans
Listed at 6’3″ and 190 pounds, this Czech import won a silver medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He had one goal and 16 points through 18 games.
RW Hiroki Gojsic – Kelowna Rockets
Listed at 6’3″ and 198 pounds, Gojsic played in Penticton with Flames prospect Aydar Suniev last season. He had four goals and seven points through 20 games.
C Tij Iginla – Kelowna Rockets
Iginla was ranked 16th on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. Jarome’s eldest son had a small role on a very stacked Seattle Thunderbirds team last season, and it wasn’t clear precisely how he would respond to a larger role in Kelowna. Well, he’s really blossomed. Ellis noted Iginla’s consistency challenges, but you can’t argue with his overall offensive output: 15 goals and 23 points through 20 games.
RW Terik Parascak – Prince George Cougars
Parascak was ranked 31st on Daily Faceoff’s November ranking. This Edge School product is in his first year in the WHL and has really burst onto the scene as part of a potent Cougars team. He had 18 goals and 30 points through 20 games. Ellis: “He’ll have to prove he’s more than a finisher, though, but the progress has been staggering.”
D Colton Roberts – Vancouver Giants
Listed at 6’3″ and 195 pounds, Roberts had five goals and 13 points through 20 games.
C Adam Titlbach – Vancouver Giants
An import from Czechia (with a silver medal from the Hlinka Gretzky Cup), Titlbach had four goals and seven points through 20 games.
From asking around to some members of the scouting community, this year’s WHL crop seems to be a little weaker at the very top – last year’s first-round crop included Connor Bedard, Samuel Honzek and others – but the secondary crop in the rounds after the first round may be a little bit better in terms of depth.
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