Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects. The major junior hockey season is several weeks old and we’re here to take a look around the Western Hockey League. Today, we bring you our 2019-20 WHL B.C. Division Players to Watch.
You can check out all of this year’s Top Shelf Prospects articles here.
2019-20 WHL B.C. Division
Players to Watch
Quinn Schmiemann, Defence, Kamloops Blazers
Drafted in the sixth round by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Schmiemann put up five goals and 28 points in 58 games last season. He is a strong skater and this helps him to play a two-way game. He can start the transition by skating the puck away from forecheckers and passing the puck up to the forwards. Schmiemann can also play the point on the power play. He can find open teammates and gets the puck through passing lanes. He also has a decent shot that he gets on the net by using his agility to open up shooting lanes.
Nolan Foote, Left Wing, Kelowna Rockets
A first round pick of the Lightning, Foote has very good size and plays with a blend of skill and power in his game. He has good stickhandling and puck protection ability. His size helps him to protect the puck on the cycle, and control the puck down low below the hash marks. He keeps the puck moving with smart passes to teammates and then moves to get himself open and take it back.
Foote has an excellent wrist shot and a very quick release. When teammates have the puck, he finds open areas to get that shot off. When the other team has the puck, he is quick to get in on the forecheck, causing pressure and creating turnovers. Foote also is a good playmaker with good vision and decent passing skills. Foote is willing to work in the dirty areas of the ice. He gets to the front of the net and uses his size to create havoc. He also battles well on the forecheck. Don’t expect Foote to be a huge hitter though, while he uses his size effectively in battles and to protect the puck, he does not through a lot of big hits.
Dillon Hamaliuk, Left Wing, Kelowna Rockets
Taken in the second round by the San Jose Sharks, Hamaliuk is a prototypical power forward. He loves to get in on the forecheck, pressuring opposing defenders and creating mistakes. He gets to the front of the net both with and without the puck. His quick hands allow him to score in tight, beating goalies with dekes, deflecting in shots from teammates, and burying rebounds or passes from teammates. He also has a strong wrist shot and a quick enough release to fool goaltenders from further out. His one-timer is also effective on the power play. Hamaliuk creates problems in front of the net as he is tough to move when he establishes his position. His size also creates a screen that is tough for goalies to see around.
Kaedan Korczak, Defence, Kelowna Rockets
A second-round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights, Korczak’s calling card is his defensive game. His strong skating ability leads to outstanding gap control. He is very difficult to beat in one-on-one defensive situations whether that be on the rush or containing his man on the cycle. Korczak is willing to play physical, separating his man from the puck with a big hit, battling in the corners for loose pucks, and clearing the front of the net. He is also very good positionally and uses his big frame and his long stick to block shots and cut down passing lanes. He must continue to get stronger and add muscle to that frame to play this style at the NHL level.
Cole Moberg, Defence, Prince George Cougars
Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks, Moberg is a very strong skater. He also has a very good shot from the blue line and scored 13 goals and 40 points last season. The 6-foot-3 defenceman is also a good passer and can help in the transition game and at the point on the powerplay. His skating also helps him in the defensive zone as he is tough to beat in one-on-one situations. Moberg is a physical defender but can work on his positioning.
Bowen Byram, Defence, Vancouver Giants
Drafted fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche, Byram is an excellent skater in both directions and this becomes the basis of a strong two-way game. He is able to join the rush, or pinch in at the blue line and still get back to his defensive position. His strong backwards skating allows him to maintain strong gap control and makes him tough to beat on the rush. Byram has outstanding speed and excellent acceleration. He also adds excellent pivots, edgework, and agility. This allows Byram to cover all areas of the ice. Byram is strong on his skates and has excellent balance. He wins battles in front of the net and along the boards. He is also strong at protecting the puck.
Byram has a very good shot from the blueline and the vision and passing skills to quarterback the power play. He understands how to get his shot on the net through traffic, using his lateral agility to open up shooting lanes. He is able to score in a variety of ways and can sneak down from the point to use his wrist shot or snapshot. Both feature a quick release. They can also be effective weapons on the rush. Byram also has an excellent slap shot. Byram is a strong puck-mover, willing to make plays through the neutral zone and to push forward to create offence as well. He is not afraid to lead the rush or join it as a trailer.
Milos Roman, Centre, Vancouver Giants
A Calgary Flames draftee, the bread and butter of Roman’s game is his playmaking ability. He has excellent vision and high-end hockey IQ. Roman sees plays developing and finds open teammates in traffic. He can make passes through tight areas, and threads the needle on defenders, or makes an accurate saucer pass on a teammate’s tape. Roman is a good stick-handler and uses his body to protect the puck on the cycle. He can extend plays and allow a teammate the time and space to get open. Roman works hard to pressure defenders in the corners, creating turnovers on the forecheck. He wins battles for pucks, and when he does, he can quickly turn that into a scoring chance. The majority of Roman’s goals come in close to the net.
Gary Haden, Centre, Victoria Royals
The overage centre was acquired in an off-season trade. He put up 30 goals and 62 points in 55 games for Saskatoon last season. Haden brings offensive production to a team that really needs it. While he is undersized, he has good hockey IQ and makes smart plays with and without the puck. Haden finds soft spots in the opposing defence and has a strong wrist shot and good release that he takes when given the puck. He is also a smart passer who can make plays for his linemates.
2020 NHL Draft Prospects To Watch
Connor Zary, Centre, Kamloops Blazers
A late 2001 birthday, if Zary was born a week earlier he would have been eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. The six-foot centre put up 24 goals and 67 points in 63 games last year and also added seven points in seven games for Team Canada at the U18 World Championships. He’s had a good start to the new season with 14 points in nine games.
Zary is at his best working in the dirty areas of the ice. He gets to the front of the net both with and without the puck. His stickhandling is strong and he protects the puck well on the cycle and makes plays in the slot. He has good vision and passing skills allowing him to set up teammates for scoring chances. He also has a good shot with a quick release. Zary plays a two-hundred-foot game, as he is not afraid to be involved in his own end.
Rhett Rhinehart, Defence, Prince George Cougars
The 13th overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, Rhinehart is already 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. He uses that size to play a physical defensive game. Rhinehart also skates well for his size and his mobility allows him to cover a lot of ice. Attackers must keep their heads up on his side of the ice or risk being laid out with a big hit. He also has good vision and passing ability allowing him to start the transition game and play on the powerplay. Rhinehart has developed a big shot from the point but needs to do better at opening up shooting lanes. He put up five goals and 24 points last season.
Justin Sourdif, Centre, Vancouver Giants
Selected 3rd overall in the 2017 WHL Draft, Sourdif had 23 goals and 46 points in 64 games as a 16-year-old on a strong WHL club. Now 18-years-old, the Giants are hoping that Sourdif has an even bigger impact. Sourdif is a good skater who pairs that with soft hands. This helps him to create space off the rush or working off the boards in the cycle. He is willing to take the puck into the dirty areas to make plays. Sourdif protects the puck well down low, extending plays and waiting for teammates to get open. When they do, he can make tape-to-tape passes through tight areas. He is especially strong on his skates for his size. Sourdif has a quick release on his wrist shot and snapshot.
2019-20 WHL B.C. Division Main Photo:
KENT, WASHINGTON – MARCH 30: Bowen Byram #44 of the Vancouver Giants takes a shot on gaol in the first period against the Seattle Thunderbirds at ShoWare Center on March 30, 2019 in Kent, Washington. The Vancouver Giants top the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-1, and win the playoff series 4-2. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)