Four Delta Hockey Academy players were selected in the first round of the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, leading a cohort of 14 Delta players chosen by eight teams last week.
Centre Jordan Gavin was selected second overall by the Tri-City Americans on Thursday (Dec. 9), making him the first-ever second overall pick by the Kennewick, Wash.-based team.
The five-foot-11 and 143-pound forward currently plays with DHA’s U17 Prep program, where he’s recorded 58 points (24 goals and 34 assist) through 14 games this season.
“There’s a lot of talented players in this draft so it’s an honour to be selected by such a great organization,” Gavin said in press release. “Playing in the WHL is something I’ve always wanted to do and be part of. I can’t wait to get started.”
Americans general manager Bob Tory announced Friday (Dec. 10) that the team had signed Gavin to a standard WHL player agreement.
“I think [playing in the WHL] is a dream of a lot of kids from Western Canada and it’s all coming true right now. I can’t wait to play for the Americans.”
“It’s been my experience that talented, young players are often unique in that they really don’t have an older comparable. Jordan is certainly that,” Americans assistant general manager and head scout Roy Stasiuk said in a press release. “He has a scoring ability and history that very few young players have. He’s unique, he’s exciting, and Americans fans are really going to enjoy his dynamic game.”
The 15-year-old from Surrey joins former 2019-20 season teammates Lukas Dragicevic, Deagan McMillan and Carter Savage, who were drafted by the Americans in 2020.
“It will be great to play with them again,” Gavin said. “We already have chemistry, and we are already familiar with how each other plays. I think having that chemistry and relationship will be beneficial.”
Gavin is eligible to join the Americans as an affiliate player this season.
With the eighth overall pick, the Medicine Hat Tigers chose Gavin’s DHA U17 Prep teammate Tomas Mrsic.
The five-foot-ten, 154-pound centre from Surrey, who has tallied 58 points (27 goals, 31 assists) in only 16 games this season, was touted by the Tigers as a playmaker with incredible vision who can put the puck in the net and thrives in pressure situations in a press release announcing the pick.
“Tomas is a dynamic offensive forward with great vision and an he has an excellent release,” Tigers director of player personnel Bobby Fox said in a press release. “He is a very intelligent player that can support at both ends of the ice and does a lot of the little things really well. We’re excited to select Tomas and watch his development.”
On Monday (Dec. 13), the Tigers announced Mrsic had been signed to a standard WHL player agreement.
“We’re really excited to bring Tomas into the fold here. He’s a really good young player with leadership ability and lots of skill. We’re excited to see him in the line-up and to help him achieve his goals,” Tigers head coach and general manager Willie Desjardins said in a press release.
The Tigers expect to see Mrsic dress for this weekend’s games, a home-and-home series against the Lethbridge Hurricanes Friday and Saturday that will be the team’s final games before the holiday break.
“I am very excited to be drafted to Medicine Hat. Having an NHL-experienced head coach means a lot to me,” Mrsic said in a press release. “I can’t wait to put that jersey on, join the Tigers and meet the fans.”
With their first pick in the draft, the Lethbridge Hurricanes selected DHA forward Miguel Marques 10th overall.
The five-foot-eleven, 170-pound right-winger, who hails from Prince George, has appeared in 16 games this season with DHA’s U17 Prep team and racked up 64 points (27 goals, 37 assists), along with 32 penalty minutes.
“It’s hard to find a centre-ice man like Marques,” Hurricanes head scout Rob MacLachlan said in a press release. “He can skate, he’s a bit of a power forward and he’s someone we couldn’t go by with the pick. We’re really excited to get him at 10.”
The club announced Friday (Dec. 10) that they had signed the 15-year-old to a standard WHL player agreement, and he made his debut that evening as part of the Hurricanes’ starting lineup when the took on the visiting Red Deer Rebels. The ‘Canes lost 3-2 in overtime, but Marques was chosen as the team’s third star of the game.
“We are really, really excited to have Marques in our lineup tonight against the Rebels,” Hurricanes general manger Peter Anholt said in press release announcing Marques’ signing.
“The top 10 picks in this draft were full of really talented and exciting players, but there was no scenario that we thought we get Marques at 10th overall and we are very, very happy to have the opportunity to select him.”
Closing out the DHA players chosen in the first round was defenceman Colton Roberts, who was picked 11th overall by his hometown Vancouver Giants.
The six-foot-one, 161-pound right-handed shot from Maple Ridge has 26 points (five goals, 21 assists) in 17 games so far this season with DHA’s U-17 Prep team, and also appeared in one game the DHA’s U-18 Prep team.
“He’s made tremendous strides this year. He’s a big, strong leader on the ice. He’s got a ton of assists and can activate a power play,” Giants general manager Barclay Parneta said in a press release. “He fits our team’s identity really well, plus he’s a local kid. We’re really excited to welcome Colton Roberts and his family to our organization.”
On Monday (Dec. 13), Parneta announced the team had signed the 15-year-old to a standard WHL player agreement.
“It’s a great honour to sign with the Vancouver Giants,” Roberts said in a press release. “I’m excited for what the future holds, and I’m going to continue working hard, trying to get better every day.”
Roberts is the first of the team’s eight 2021 draftees to sign, and is eligible to appear in up to five games with the Giants as an under-ager prior to the completion of his CSSHL season.
“We are very happy that Colton and his family have trusted us with furthering his development. Colton is a big body that can move. He makes plays quick, and sees things develop. He has great vision combined with a high compete level that makes him very difficult to play against. We look forward to seeing him patrol the blue line as a Giant,” Parneta said.
The Giants chose another DHA player in the first round of the WHL’s U.S. prospects draft on Wednesday (Dec. 8).
With the 18th overall pick, the Giants chose 15-year-old forward Mikhail Levaniuk. The six-foot, 161-pound right-handed shot from Redmond, Wash. has four points (three goals, one assist) through 16 games this season with DHA’s U16 Prep program, as well as 22 penalty minutes.
“He’s a good-sized kid. He doesn’t shy away from physicality, and he brings good skill and a little bit of everything to the table,” Giants scouting director Daryl Anning said in a press release. “It’ll be easy to keep tabs on him and his development due to the local connection with the Delta [Hockey] Academy.”
Nine other Delta players were selected through the next seven rounds of the draft.
Centre Gavin Garland, 15, was picked ninth in the second round (31st overall) by the Americans.
The six-foot, 168-pound forward, who lives in Tsawwassen but was born in Clearwater, Fla., has played 13 games this season with DHA’s U17 Prep team, tallying 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists).
Forward Cayden Lindstrom, 15, was chosen ninth in the third round (54th overall) by the Tigers.
From Fort St. John, the six-foot-five, 190-pound Lindstrom has played 16 games with DHA’s U17 Prep team, racking up 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) as well as 44 penalty minutes.
In the fourth round, the Giants chose 15-year-old right-winger Justin Ivanusec with the 13th pick (79th overall).
The five-foot-eleven, 150-pound forward from Delta has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 15 games playing as an under-ager with the Burnaby Winter Club’s U18 Prep program.
The Giants took another local player — defenceman Linden Burrett, 15, of Surrey — with the 10th pick in the fifth round of the draft (99th overall).
The six-foot, 155-pounder has averaged a point a game through 16 outings this season with DHA’s U17 Prep team (two goals and 14 assists), and recorded another assist in his one game with the academy’s U18 Prep squad.
Also in the fifth, the Calgary Hitmen took defenceman Jaren Ashbee with the 13th pick (102nd overall).
The six-foot-one, 156-pound 15-year-old from Surrey has nine points (three goals, six assists) through 11 games with DHA’s U17 Prep team, and has played one game with the academy’s U18 squad.
As well, the Saskatoon Blades took defenceman Michael Gallant 17th in the fifth round (106th overall).
The five-foot-ten, 171-pound 15-year-old form Langley has 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) through 17 games this season with DHA’s U17 Prep team, and has played one game with the academy’s U18 squad.
With the first pick in the sixth round (112th overall), the Red Deer Rebels took DHA U16 Prep defenceman Derek Thurston.
The five-foot-eight, 125-pound 15-year-old from Delta has played 20 games so far this season, racking up 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) and 32 penalty minutes.
In the seventh round, the Hitmen took 15-year-old defenceman Kabir Shahi with the 13th pick (146th overall).
The six-foot-three, 170-pounder from Richmond has 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) through 17 games with DHA’s U17 Prep team, and has played one game with the academy’s U18 squad.
And finally, with the tenth pick in the eighth round of the draft (165th overall), the Winnipeg Ice chose goalie Noah Stenvig.
The six-foot-four, 165-pound 15-year-old from Victoria has played 484 minutes through eight games with DHA’s U17 Prep team this season, backing the team to seven wins and one overtime loss. So far he has stopped 146 of 163 shots, allowing only 17 goals, for a goals-against average of 2.11 and a save percentage of 0.896.