The Melfort Mustangs looked to the future at the 2019 SJHL Bantam Draft in Nipawin on Friday, May 31. The Mustangs picked seven players and also auto protected a local player. Overall the team was happy with what was picked.
“From our perspective we thought the draft went very well. We got some good kids that we think are going to contribute offensively and defensively and should bode well for the future for the Mustang organization,” Mustangs’ director of player development Rick Oakes said.
According to Oakes the team’s success with bantam draft picks, including Parker Fofonoff, comes from hard work and research by the scouting staff.
In the first round at the ninth pick the Mustangs selected Tisdale forward Connor Hvidston. He has 57 points in 31 games for the North East Bantam AA Wolfpack and also played two games as an affiliated player with the Tisdale Trojans.
“We consider him a local guy and anytime you can get a local kid I think you have to seize the opportunity and that was what we did with Connor. He is a good offensive guy, he sees the ice very well; he makes his teammates better,” Oakes said.
Oakes explained that they were excited to add Hvidston, who was also taken in the seventh round at #133 overall by the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL Bantam Draft.
In the second round at pick 22 they picked forward Tyrus Flory of the Saskatoon Maniacs Bantam AA. Flory had 72 points in 31 games for the Maniacs. Oakes described him as hardworking.
“He needs some work but he’s got instincts and goes to the dirty areas and drives hard to the net and does what he has to do to score goals. He’s a smart player that way,” he explained.
The Mustangs began a run on players from the Regina Aces Bantam AA with defenseman Noah Newman. Newman was taken with a pick acquired from the Weyburn Red Wings in round 3 at pick 27.
“He’s a two way defenseman and he plays with lots of heart and lots of grit. He has got some good offensive instincts, he’s very good in his defensive zone,” Oakes said.
Newman had 22 points in 29 games for the Aces.
Oakes explained that Newman could makes the Regina Pat Canadians as a 15-year-old out of fall camp.
“If he doesn’t make their team he will be an AP for them and will play for them as a 16-year-old and hopefully be ready to make a jump as a 17-year-old to the SJHL,” Oakes said.
The second Regina Ace selected was defenseman Tyson Herron in round four at pick 42. Heron has offensive instincts but needs some work in the defensive zone according to Oakes. Heron had 23 points in 31 games.
”He is a bit of a lanky kid with lots of potential, a right shot defenseman that has the potential to be a very good Junior A player down the road,” Oakes said.
The last of the run of Regina Aces was forward Hunter Kannok-Leipert. He had 31 points in 30 games for the Aces.
“He works hard he has got some grit to his game. His brother turned out to be a pretty good defenseman in the Western League for Vancouver. So we are optimistic,” Oakes said.
Oakes explained that he plays in a way that coach and general manager Trevor Blevins likes, with aggression and game knowledge. The pick came from Estevan in a deal at the 2017 SJHL Bantam Draft.
In the fifth round the Mustangs took forward Bryton Erickson from the Saskatoon Maniacs at pick 58. Oakes described Erickson as a project with potential.
“He has got a good work ethic, good character guy. You just need to be patient with him he’s a bit of a project. But he will come along and we think he is a bit of a sleeper,” Oakes said.
With their last pick the Mustangs selected forward Rhett Dekowny with pick 65 in the sixth round. Dekowkny impressed the Mustangs at Spring Camp and is spoken highly of by head scout Travis Stevenson.
“He has got more offensive upside than what his stats show but we think that will develop with time and maturity,” Oakes said.
The Mustangs also auto-protected Melfort forward Zac Somers of the Wolfpack. Somers had 43 points in 31 games for the Wolfpack.
“He has got very good hockey sense and has got some offensive skill and it’s just a matter of giving him some time and letting him grow and develop into a player,” Oakes said.