By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
Today’s bantam draft is Garry Davidson’s first as a general manager in the Western Hockey League. However, while being the man with the final say may be a new experience for him, the Everett Silvertips’ new GM knows his way around this draft.
Davidson, hired by the Tips in February, will be right at home when the names start coming off the board this morning in Calgary, Alberta. In his previous position as the Portland Winterhawks’ director of player personnel, Davidson’s primary responsibility was the bantam draft.
“With Mike (Johnston) being both the coach and GM in Portland, I was pretty much the front man for the draft,” said Davidson, who gets his first opportunity to put his stamp on the Silvertips’ organization. “But I’m excited about it. This is a chance to start building the list.”
Everett holds the seventh-overall pick in the first round, meaning the Tips are in position to select one of the elite players available.
This year’s bantam draft disperses the best 1997-born players from western Canada and the western United States among the WHL’s 22 teams. These players won’t be eligible to join their WHL teams full-time until the 2013-14 season.
And because Davidson spent much of the season as Portland’s primary scout for the bantam draft, he feels very comfortable with his knowledge of the players available.
“The fact is I was out scouting throughout the past winter,” Davidson said. “In comparison to other GMs, who had to tend to all their GM duties, I’m probably a guy who’s seen a lot of players.
“With Bil (La Forge) as the head of the scouting group, I think it’s going to be a case of putting our heads together as a group going into our picks.”
Davidson described the 2012 bantam draft as having “some real good, quality guys right through the end of the first round. The top 12-15 players are real solid, and after that there’s still good players. We’re picking at No. 7 as we speak, and I’m confident there will be a good player there.”
Everett also held the seventh-overall pick in last year’s draft, selecting center Ty Mappin, who already has signed a WHL education contract with the Tips and made his WHL debut during a call-up last season. He helped guide his midget team, the Red Deer Optimist Rebels, to the Canadian national championship by winning the Telus Cup last Sunday.
Mappin, the only 15-year-old on the team, led the Rebels in scoring during the regular season with 42 points in 34 games. He then tied for the team lead in scoring at the Telus Cup with nine points in seven games.
The Tips do not, however, own a second-round pick heading into the draft. Davidson confirmed Everett surrendered its second-rounder to Portland as compensation for hiring him away from the Winterhawks.
With the Tips also owning two third-rounders, Davidson said he is receptive to swinging a deal that would get Everett back into the second round.
“We certainly would like to have a second-rounder,” Davidson said. “We’re on the lookout to see if we might be able to acquire one. I’ve taken a lot of phone calls, and there could be a lot of action (today).”
Forward Matt Barzal of the Burnaby (B.C.) Winter Club is considered the consensus top player and is expected to be selected first overall by Seattle.
Murray misses out
Tips captain Ryan Murray lost out to Brandon’s Mark Stone for the Brad Hornung Trophy as the WHL’s most sportsmanlike player at Wednesday’s WHL awards luncheon in Calgary. Murray, an 18-year-old defenseman who had nine goals, 22 assists and 31 penalty minutes in 46 games and was the Western Conference nominee, was seeking to be the first Everett player to ever win the Brad Hornung Trophy. Stone, the Eastern Conference nominee, had 41 goals, 82 assists and 22 penalty minutes in 66 games.
Tri-City center Brendan Shinnimin was awarded the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.