By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
Everett Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson spent the second half of the 2012-13 season serving as Everett’s interim head coach.
Today, Davidson returns to his natural element.
The Western Hockey League bantam draft takes place today in Calgary, Alberta, meaning Davidson is back to where he’s perhaps at his best.
“It’s always a really fun process, sitting down with the scouts and pounding things out,” Davidson said. “It’s an interesting process, seeing who goes in what order. It’s a real enjoyable part of the job.”
Today’s draft, which begins at 7:30 a.m., disperses players born in 1998 from western Canada and the western United States among the WHL’s 22 teams. Players selected today are not eligible to play full-time in the WHL until the 2014-15 season.
Everett finished with the league’s fourth-worst record, but the first six picks in the first round go to the teams that didn’t make the postseason. Therefore, the Tips hold the seventh overall selection for the third straight year. Everett’s picks are fourth in each successive round.
Everett owns single picks in each of the first four rounds, though its third-rounder is from Moose Jaw and its fourth rounder is from Tri-City. The Tips have two fifth-round picks, its own and Brandon’s. Everett does not have a sixth-round selection.
This is the second bantam draft conducted by Davidson for the Tips. Last year he was perhaps the most knowledgable general manger at the draft, considering he spent most of the season as Portland’s primary scout of bantam-level talent. However, his coaching responsibilities this season prevented him from personally seeing as much of this year’s crop of players.
“For me, I don’t have the same knowledge as I had the last couple of years, as I wasn’t on the road from January through March,” Davidson said. “But in saying that, I was out all April and got to see all the provincial camps. I don’t have quite the same overall grasp of the group as I did last year, but that’s why we have scouts, and they’re doing a good job.
“We were a little concerned about the depth of this draft, but after watching Alberta and the U.S., we feel it will be a pretty decent draft,” Davidson added. “Manitoba has a good group. Saskatchewan is down a bit, and B.C. had such a good group last year that it was inevitable they’d be down. But the Alberta camp was so good that in the end, there will be a lot of good players in this draft, like there are every year.”
Last year the Tips held the seventh pick but traded down to 11th overall, selecting defenseman Kevin Davis and picking up a third-round selection in the process. Davidson said he’s receptive to the possibility of jostling his first-round position again this year, moving either up or down.
“It’s definitely possible,” Davidson said. “It would be foolish not to listen to what people want to do. I think there’s one possibility for moving up for sure, and there’s the possibility of moving back like we did last year. We’ll look at all the scenarios. We might not do anything, but we’ll certainly look at what teams are proposing, and if it makes sense, we’ll make the move.”
If the Tips stay at No. 7, Davidson is confident they’ll land a quality player.
“I think it will be a very good player, whether it’s a defenseman or a forward,” Davidson said. “You never know what people will do in front of you, so it could end up being a player who’s fourth or fifth on our list. We’re very comfortable with the first seven players on our list. There’s a couple top-end guys, but right down to seven there’s very good players.”
Vancouver holds the first pick. Tyler Benson, a winger from Edmonton, Alberta, is the favorite to be the first overall selection.
Swift Current winger Adam Lowry was awarded the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player during Wednesday’s awards luncheon. The 19-year-old Lowry had 45 goals, 43 assists and 102 penalty minutes in 72 games. He beat out Tri-City’s Justin Feser for the award.
Former Everett prospect Seth Jones, a defenseman who played this season for Portland, was named the league’s rookie of the year. Red Deer’s Patrik Bartosak was named the goaltender of the year. Spokane’s Brenden Kichton was named the defenseman of the year. Kootenay’s Ryan McGill was named the coach of the year.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.