The second annual Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Bantam Draft was held Thursday, June 2 in Nipawin and the Battlefords North Stars made six selections.
Before the draft, North Stars head coach and general manager Kevin Hasselberg stressed they wanted to draft some local talent into their program, and they wasted no time in doing so by taking Macklin native Tye Scherger in the first round, 12th overall.
“Tye is a gritty player and a skilled player,” Hasselberg said. “He’s a 200-foot player and when you look at those things and combine them with the positives of being a part of our program we’re excited that he’s going to be playing locally next season.”
Scherger played with the West Central Wheat Kings this past season, scoring 18 goals and adding 19 assists in 28 games. He will be playing with the Battlefords AAA Stars in the 2016-17 season. With the 24th overall pick, Hasselberg went north and drafted forward Dylan Esau from Meadow Lake.
“He’s a big power forward and someone we got to watch a lot because his team played our local midget AA team in the playoffs,” Hasselberg said. “I think he’s got some decisions to make over the next couple years and we hope we can factor into those decisions in helping him become a better player.”
This isn’t the first time in 2016 Esau was drafted; he was a 10th round pick of the Kelowna Rockets in the Western Hockey League draft. Hockey runs in Esau’s bloodline, as his father Len played 27 games in the NHL during an 11-year professional hockey career. Esau played for the Meadow Lake Midget AA Stampeders this season, posting 12 goals and 13 assists in 28 games. The North Stars had two picks in the second round, using the first to draft Saskatoon’s Tyler Danielson.
“The thing I really like about Tyler is his no fear attitude,” Hasselberg said. “He’s not a glass-and-out style of defenceman. He’ll join the rush and he’s an outstanding skater. Over the course of the next year or two we’ll certainly be keeping in touch with him.”
Danielson scored seven times and added 15 assists in 30 games with the Saskatoon Generals. With their second pick in the third round the North Stars picked up one of the highest scoring bantam players in the province in Aaron Toews of Swift Current.
“We were pleasantly surprised that he was available to us,” Hasselberg said. “He’s being compared to (former North Stars and current Portland Winterhawk) Tanner Nagel. He played on a team that didn’t have a lot of success, but still ended up top 10 in league scoring.”
Toews scored 26 times and assisted on 28 others in 30 games with the Swift Current Kabos Raiders this past season, good for a tie for seventh in league scoring. The North Stars' fourth round pick was as local as you can get, as they drafted Estyn Hyman who played with the Battlefords Barons this season.
“He kind of flew under the radar for most of the season,” Hasselberg said. “He plays with passion and was fearless in the sense he would try to beat a guy one-on-one. There wasn’t a lot of safe about his game, and that excites me. Those are the players that are going to be successful.”
Hyman scored eight points in 28 games with the Barons this season. With their final pick of the draft, the North Stars took a bit of a risk drafting Blake Allan from Humboldt.
“I think it’s a risk worth taking,” Hasselberg said. “We felt with Blake still on the board it was worth it. Blake is a raw player who’s physical and certainly fits that WHL build. If he’s not ready for the WHL at 16, that’s a player we can look at.”
Allan played on the powerhouse Humboldt Broncos bantam team last season, scoring 18 goals with 22 assists. He was a third round pick of the Kootenay Ice in this year’s WHL draft.
SJHL general managers will remain in Nipawin as the league has their annual meetings to discuss the progression of the league, as well as getting the schedule planned out for next season.
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