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Wilde Weekend Bolsters Banff's Blueline

by Ed Whalen | September 28, 2018, 1:15 AM ET

In a year that most experts around the SICHL thought the Banff Rockies would be picking very high in the SICHL Entry Draft, The Banff Rockies moved themselves right out of the top 14. For a time between Late Friday night and midday Saturday they weren't even in the top 16 anymore, leading some GM's to wonder if he knew what he was doing. Especially with bold statements from some that anything outside the top 12 this year sucked. But GM Constable looked at it a different way. "This year has been called a banner year for defencemen. We thought there were a lot of strong Dmen available through to about 32 on our list, but we also know that peoples lists are going to change a lot after about 20. We wanted to try to take advantage of this group with as many picks as we could attain." Commented Constable. The Rockies did just that. Banff ended up picking 8 times between 15 and 46. they also picked twice in the third round and again in the 6th. 

A week before, Banff had traded the valuable 2020 Dublin first rounder for prospect Miro Heiskanen. "We felt we had already grabbed our lottery selection even before the draft and felt like we could diversify more when it came to this years draft." Shrugged Constable. Half way through the expansion draft week, some teams started inquiring about the 4th overall selection that Banff had. This really heated up the night the expansion draft was held and in the end, the Rockies dealt the 4th overall in 2018 to the Whitehorse Huskies for the 17th overall (Whitehorse's first), #28 overall (Brandon's first which Banff had traded earlier in the year to Whitehorse for Tyson Barrie and a 4th round selection) and the Huskies 2019 first rounder. Ironically, Barrie was also traded that night by The Rockies for The #20 pick in this years draft (Schooners first) and hulking prospect Timothy Gettinger. That same night Constable flipped the #28 selection and Banff's 2018 6th for 2 second rounders from St Louis (#39 and #46) The Rockies also moved prospect Antoine Morand to Havana for Havana's 3rd and 6th round selections in 2018. Constable had talks that night trying to move up with one of his 3 selctions in a row from 20 - 22 into the top 15, but nothing stuck. So the Rockies GM tried to fall asleep that night with visions of draft picks dancing in his head. The Rockies were heading into the draft with 12 picks (#17, 20, 21, 22, 30, 39, 42, 46, 59, 70, 82 and 169).

As the entry draft rolled around, GM Constable was very excited and curious to see how the top half of the first round would fall. With the Supersonics holding 3 picks in the top 15, Constable and GM Franceschini resumed talks form the night before and soon a deal was struck that saw the #15 pick go to the Rockies for the #22 and #59 (Banff's third rounder in 2018). Banff did not make antohter trade that day, however there were many opportunities to. This is who the Rockies ended up selecting that day:

#15 LW Joel Farabee

Farabee played for the US U-18 team last year and is commited to the University of Boston for this year. While a slight 6' 162 lbs, Joel combines skill, vision and hockey sense with a relentless drive. His 2 way games is excellent and his tenacity on the defensive side of the game combined with his skating and the the other skills mentioned allow him to transition plays quickly. The Rockies are very excited about this player and hope he can push Kyle Connor for the first line LW spot on the Rockies roster in 3 or 4 years.

#17 C Joseph Veleno

Only the 5th player in CHL history to be granted exceptional status. Since then, the hype has cooled significantly. He had a very tough first half plyaing with the worst team in the Q (Saint John) but after a trade to Drummondville he started to show off his playmaking ability that along with his speed and strong backcheck that a few years ago had created excitement around the player. Veleno will get a long look in camp this year, but will most likely be a key contributer to a Drumondville team that is expected to challenge for the Memorial Cup.

After being so excited about the defence group in this draft, the Rockies had selected forwards with their first two picks. This changed as Banff would select 5 dmen in their next 6 picks.

#20 D K'Andre Miller 

Miller transitioned from forward to D just in the past few years. He's still learning the defensive side of the game and was still able to be dominant in his end of the rink. Reguarded as the best athlete in the draft, Miller is still learning the offensive side of the game. His 6'3" 199lb frame gives him a massive wingspan and He has shown a very high learning curve as he became the go to offensive Dman on the US U-18 squad about half way through the year. The Rockies were thrilled to be able to select the University of Wisconsin commit. He has the ceiling of a top pairing defenceman.

#21 D Ryan Merkley

Merkley was definately the most polarizing player in this year's draft. A player who's talent was easily top 5 level, was actually marked as "will not pick" by some teams because of his attitude. Merkley tries and succeeds with passes that no player in the past few years of the draft can make. He also is able to consistently enter the offensive zone with control of the puck and dangle around players while walking the blueline to keep playes alive in the offensive zone. At the same time his compete level and decision making on the defensive side can be attrocious. The Rockies believe, whith a strong leadership group, and development, he can overcome his shortcomings. If so, he could turn into one of the top PP quarterbacks in the entire league. If not, well...

***Sidenote: This pick was the final piece added by Banff of the SICHL SUMM17 blockbuster trade which saw the #2 overall selection go to London which the Monarchs used to select phenom Nolan Patrick (through many picks and flips of picks, and additional 4th rounder going to London saw the package finally turning into Nick Suzuki, Rasmus Andersson , Miro Heiskanen, Ryan Merkley and London's 2019 7th rounder). 

#30 RW Serron Noel

At 6'5" 204 lb, Noel has the size to intimidate opponents. But, unlike most players of his size, Serron has a very good top speed. This can make him very tough to contain while barreling down the wing. He is strong defensively, but needs to commit more to the power game. Banff is hoping for Noel to turn into a middle six power winger.

#39 D Jared McIsaac

Jared has a great combination of size and mobility. He has turned himself into a solid 2 way defender. He posesses a good shot from the point. The Rockies hope Jared can turn into a solid #4 D. 

#42 D Matthias Samuelsson

Son of Kjell Samuelsson. This 6'4" 218 lb Dman was the captain of the US U-18 team this past year. A physically imposing player, Mattias is a minute munching, shut down defenceman. At the same time he produced 31 points in 53 games for the program. His intelligence and bite to his game make it extremely hard on opposing players. he has a strong first pass and good power on his slap and wrist shot. The rockies hope he will push for a second pair D spot in the future and lead their #1 PK unit.

#46 D Bode Wilde

The 4th player selected by Banff form the very talented US U-18 squad. At 6'3" 198 lbs, Wilde has the physical attributes to compliment his great skating abilities. but needs to work on his decision making. He scored 41 points in 56 games with the program last year. He's a project with a ton of potential. Anywhere form top pairing to career minor leaguer. 

# 70 C Alexander Khovanov

 After contracting Hepatitis A, Khovanov understandably got off to a very slow start and never seemed to recover. His footspeed looked slow, but still scored 28 points in 29 games with Moncton in the Q. A pass first forward, the Rockies would like to see him shoot more often this year, as well as have a solid offseason of training to hopefully improve his speed. Reclamation project.

#82 D Xavier Bouchard

Now known as "The reach of the draft" Bouchard followed a great rookie year in the Q that led to some first round talk before the season by a horrible first half which he slowly started to recover from late in the year. With good size and skating, the Rockies are REALLY hoping on a strong bounce back season. Potential 3rd pairing dman.

#169 G David Hrenak

An overaged Goalie who played for St Cloud State, Hrenek posted a strong 2.11 GAA and .919 save %. He has shared the crease throughout his career, but has put up decent numbers along the way. A hope and a prayer for a goalie in the system.

 

It was no secret that Banff had been shopping goalie Henrik Lundqvist as soon as the no trade clause of his franchise tag was removed. There was interest from a number of teams for a while, including where he ended up in Las Vegas, but nothing was close. Most teams wanted to wait and see what free agency was going to bring and The Rockies were happy to do the same. However, when Aces GM Dustin Nielson proclaimed that he was entertaining offers on Carey Price, Constable saw an opportunity for both teams. "Dustin and I had talked a number of times before about Hank, but the sticking point was always that we wanted to package Hank and other assets to attain Eeli Tolvanen, but he was off limits. At the same time, that's all that the Aces had that we were interested in." said Constable. "We never thought Price would become available. We know he had a very tough year last year, but being 5 years younger than Hank and for many years thought of as the best goalie on the planet, we strongly beleive that he can bounce back to top of the world status and where better to do that than high up in the rockies. We know that for some strange reason he has never won the Ken Dryden Trophy, but with the defence core we are putting together her, we believe that will change in the next couple of years. At the same time, we know we gave up another one of the great goalies to ever play in the SICHL in Henrik. We are happy that he is going to a contending team in Vegas and we wish him and GM Nielson great success. This is a trade that I truly think works very well for both teams."

Asked if he plans on making any more deals in the near future, Constable replied "Nope, stick a fork in me, I'm done! I'm looking forward to adding some key pieces in free agency, but I am very happy with the direciton the team is heading and unless GM's would like something off my roster, I'm going to be quite quiet for a while. Saying that, I'll always listen..." 

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