By NicK Patterson Herald Writer
Thursday’s WHL bantam draft was new Everett Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson’s first opportunity to put his stamp on the team.
And Davidson made sure he brought along a large bottle of permanent ink.
Davidson began molding Everett’s roster and 50-player protected list to his liking in a big way, making two trades and selecting 13 players during Thursday’s bantam draft.
This was the first opportunity Davidson, hired in February to replace Doug Soetaert, had to exert his influence on player personnel, and he didn’t mess around. The 13 players were the most Everett selected in a single bantam draft since the team’s first draft in 2003. And Davidson also dealt away two roster players as the Tips bid farewell to forwards Jari Erricson and Jordyn Boyd.
“This was a big step in the direction we hope to go,” Davidson said. “I’m extremely happy with the process we went through. This was my first time with this group of scouts, and we also got the coaches involved, so it was good team bonding. And I’m pleased overall with the way things went.”
Thursday’s draft, held in Calgary, Alberta, dispersed 1997-born players from western Canada and the western United States to the WHL’s 22 clubs. Everett went into it with the seventh-overall pick, no pick in the second round, two in the third, and no picks in the fifth. The Tips emerged with the 11th-overall pick, three picks in the third, a pick in the fifth and an intriguing potential addition for next season.
Everett began the day by trading the seventh-overall pick along with Erricson and a conditional future fourth-round pick to Prince George. In return the Tips received the 11th pick overall, a third rounder and the rights to 17-year-old winger Jujhar Khaira. Everett then dealt Boyd to Kootenay for the fifth-round pick.
Everett then used the 11th-overall pick to take puck-moving defenseman Kevin Davis. Davis a 5-foot-11 and 155-pound native of Kamloops, B.C., was a player the Tips had targeted from the start. The Tips were also confident Davis would still be available when the 11th pick came around.
“He’s a very mobile, puck-moving defenseman, and he also has very high-end hockey sense,” Davidson said of Davis. “He also has a lot of room for growth. His older brother is 6-3 or 6-4, so in the end we hope he’ll be a good-sized mobile defenseman.”
Davis said he was thrilled to be selected 11th overall, and he also expressed an admiration for Tips captain Ryan Murray.
“I have no words, I’m speechless,” Davis said. “I thought I had played well enough to go in the first or second round, but I was not expecting to be taken 11th overall.”
Davis said he was “100 percent” committed to playing in the WHL.
However, the player who could have the most immediate impact for the Tips is Khaira. Khaira had a big season playing for the Prince George Spruce Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League, registering 29 goals and 50 assists in 54 games. The 6-foot-3, 195 pounder from Surrey, B.C., was ranked 74th among North Americans skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Service for the upcoming NHL draft. He’s currently committed to attend Michigan Tech, but the Tips are hoping to lure him away.
“We think he could be a solid No. 1 or No. 2 winger going forward,” Davidson said. “He’s committed to go to Michigan Tech, but he’s also highly touted for the NHL draft, and for his development we could be a legit option for him. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet with his parents and be an attractive option for him.”
Davidson said Erricson was included in the deal because the Cougars sought to bring the Prince George native home. Erricson, Everett’s second-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft, spent two seasons in Everett. This season as a 17-year-old he had six goals and 13 assists in 69 games.
As for Boyd, Davidson said he was a victim of the numbers game. Everett had the potential of returning all its forwards from last season except one, and the Tips have several prospects ready to make the jump. Boyd, a sixth-round pick in 2009, was a 17-year-old rookie this season, notching seven goals and four assists in 53 games.
Everett’s 13 draft picks included seven forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender. Davidson said the general theme among Everett’s selections was good skating ability. The Tips also selected defensemen whose strength is moving the puck.
Davidson was particularly happy to land skilled winger Austin Mathews with Everett’s second pick of the draft. Davidson said Mathews, taken in the third round and 57th overall, was a top-10 talent. However, because Mathews hails from Phoenix, there were concerns about whether he’ll play in the WHL.
The players picked Thursday are ineligible to be full-time players in the WHL until the 2013-14 season.
With the first-overall pick Seattle selected center Mathew Barzal, as expected. Barzal was the consensus top prospect.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.