Silvertips opt for defense in early rounds of bantam draft

Everett makes defenseman Olen Zellweger of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, its top pick

The Everett Silvertips went into Thursday’s WHL Bantam Draft looking for players with three specific qualities.

Speed, skill and smarts.

Despite not having a pick in the first round, Everett found exactly what it was looking for in its 11 selections, the team’s director of player personnel, Bil La Forge, said.

“We stuck to our formula,” he said, “and we got a lot of guys who play the Silvertip way.”

The Edmonton Oil Kings had the No. 1 pick in the draft and chose a home-grown player — 5-11, 163-pound center Dylan Guenther of Edmonton.

The Silvertips did not have a selection in the first round. They traded their pick to Edmonton in January of 2017 in a deal that brought veteran defenseman Aaron Irving to Everett.

Everett’s initial pick Thursday was in the second round — 42nd overall — and the Tips selected Olen Zellweger, a 5-foot-6, 140-pound defenseman from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

“He’s someone I got to see a lot of times,” La Forge said. “We were really (excited) to get him at any point in the draft. He’s a heady, puck-moving defenseman. All the scouts said he just looks like a Silvertip.”

Zellweger played this season for OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep. In 30 regular-season games, he had 10 goals and 22 assists.

With their third-round pick the Silvertips added a second defenseman in 5-7, 165-pound Ty Gibson from Victoria, British Columbia.

Gibson had eight goals and 16 assists this season for Pacific Coast Hockey Academy Bantam Prep.

“Both are similar types,” La Forge said of Zellweger and Gibson. “I think they complement each other very well.”

In all, the Silvertips picked seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender. They chose three players from Manitoba, two each from British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and one from Alberta. Everett’s last three picks were Americans.

The Silvertips’ 2018 draft is not a particularly big group — ninth-round pick Connor McGrath stands 5-5 and weighs 105 — but La Forge said size is not a key factor in evaluating 14-year-old hockey players.

“There is a chance they are going to grow,” he said. “When we take guys, we don’t really worry about (size) as much. The game is changing. It’s a game of speed and skill.”

Everett was the last team to pass in the draft. The Silvertips were one of two teams to select in the 12th round and the only team to pick in the 13th.

Overall, La Forge said, the Silvertips got what they wanted.

“I think we added players who are going to be able to play an up-tempo game with skill,” he said.

For complete draft results, click here.

Here’s a breakdown of the Silvertips’ 11 draft picks:

Round 2 (42nd overall) — Olen Zellweger, D, 5-6, 140, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, 10 goals and 22 assists in 30 games with OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep.

Round 3 (64th)— Ty Gibson, D, 5-7, 165, Victoria, B.C., eight goals and 16 assists in 30 games with Pacific Coast Hockey Academy Bantam Prep.

Round 4 (86th) — Carter Halamandaris, F, 5-10, 144, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, 34 goals and 25 assists in 30 games with Winnipeg Monarchs B1AAA.

Round 7 (140th) — Davis Fry, F, 6-2, 160, Regina, Saskatchewan, 36 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with Regina Monarchs BAA.

Round 7 (145th) — Sloan Stanick, F, 5-8, 143, Rapid City, Manitoba, 28 goals and 31 assists in 36 games with Yellowhead Chiefs B1AAA.

Round 7 (152nd) — Nate Goodbrandson, F, 6-0, 154, St. Andrews, Manitoba, 31 goals and 46 assists in 34 games with Winnipeg Hawks B1AAA.

Round 8 (174th) — Holden Cardinal, F 5-3, 125, Surrey, B.C., 17 goals and 16 assists in 30 games with Delta Hockey Academy Bantam Prep Green.

Round 9 (196th) — Connor McGrath, F, 5-5, 105, Leroy, Saskatchewan, 22 goals and 31 assists in 31 games with Humboldt Broncos BAA.

Round 11 (211th) — Brent Johnson, D, 5-9, 140, Dallas, Texas, seven goals and four assists in 12 games with Dallas Stars Elite 14U.

Round 12 (214th) — Braden Holt, G, 5-10, 135, Bozeman, Montana, 3-2 with a 3.30 goals against average and .852 save percentage in six games with Detroit Victory Honda 14U.

Round 13 (215th) — Ean Somoza, F (height and weight not available) Los Angeles, California, 21 goals and 18 assists in 45 games with Los Angeles Jr. Kings 14U.

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