As Ron Gunville, the Prince Albert Raiders' director of player personnel, took the podium to make the team’s first pick at 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, he dedicated the draft to former Raider prospect Adam Herold.
Herold was one of the 16 people who lost their lives in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash April 6.
“Adam was going to be an important part of our hockey club,” Gunville said. “As good a player as he was, he was probably a better human being and better individual — just a great guy to be around, and outstanding human being. We felt it was very important to at least honour him in some sort of way.”
Fittingly, Gunville and the Raiders used their third overall pick to draft Nolan Allan, who played for the Humboldt Broncos Bantam AA program this year.
But Allan was far away from both Humboldt and his hometown of Davidson on Thursday when he learned he was selected by the Raiders.
"We were in a hotel room with a couple of the boys because we're in a tournament right now in Philadelphia for the World Selects Invitational," Allan said. "We had it going on a phone and they announced my name. It was pretty exciting."
It was an exciting day all around for Team Western Canada in Philadelphia, as Allan said each one of his teammates was selected in the draft, including Dylan Guenther who went first overall to the Edmonton Oil Kings.
As for Allan, the 6'1", 170-lb defenceman starred with the Humboldt Bantam AA Broncos this season, producing 44 points in 26 games. After doing all he could do on the ice to impress the scouts, he said he was happy to finally learn where his career would take him next.
"It was a relief just knowing where I'm finally going," he said. "I can stop worrying, knowing where I'm going to play the next four years."
Hockey is in the bloodlines of the Raiders' latest first-round pick, as his older brother Blake is a current member of the Kootenay ICE, and his uncle played with the Saskatoon Blades from 1992 to 1996, twice winning gold with Team Canada at the world junior tournament before moving on to the professional ranks.
Allan is also close friends with Victoria Royals Goaltender Dean McNabb, younger brother of Vegas Golden Knights' Defenceman Brayden McNabb.
This fall, Allan will make the jump from bantam to midget, joining the Saskatoon Blazers in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League before potentially joining the Raiders on a full-time basis in the 2019-2020 season. As for any further summer plans, Allan said he'll be "training and skating during the week and trying to get better and get ready for next season."
Here are Gunville’s thoughts on all of the Raiders' draft picks:
Nolan Allan, 1st round, 3rd overall
Left defence, 6’1, 170 lbs, Humboldt Broncos Bantam AA, 12 goals, 32 assists, 44 points in 26 games.
Gunville: “We were happy to get Nolan. He was a guy we liked all year. We like his skating ability, his puck movement, his ability to jump in the offence. He’s got a heavy shot, scores goals. He’s going to be a good player; he’s going to have great size ... We knew we were getting a good player when we decided to take Nolan Allan.”
Tyson Laventure, 2nd round, 31st overall
Right wing, 6’0, 168 lbs, OHA Edmonton Bantam, 25 goals, 19 assists, 44 points in 30 games.
Gunville: “He’s a big right-winger that’s going to score goals for us, good size, good skating ability. We were really happy to get him in the second round.”
Dean Spak, 3rd round, 53rd overall
Centre, 5’8.5, 156 lbs, Calgary Northstar Sabres, 22 goals, 29 assists, 51 points in 34 games.
Gunville: “Dean’s a smaller guy right now, who we project to grow. He led his Calgary Northstar team in scoring, he was the MVP at the KIBIHT Bantam tournament in Kamloops just after Christmas. He’s a tenacious player, good offensive skill, and he’s a good skater as well.”
Adam McNutt, 4th round, 68th overall
Right defence, 6’, 187 lbs, Saskatoon Generals, 22 goals, 19 assists, 41 points in 31 games.
“Adam’s a guy we liked. We liked that he’s a right-handed-shooting defenceman. He’s a good size already, good strength, and he put up some pretty good numbers as well. He had 22 goals as a defenceman. We liked his overall game, his enthusiasm. His overall wanting to be a P.A. Raider really sold us on Adam.”
Brett Moravec, 5th round, 97th overall
Centre, 5’7.5, 131 lbs, Airdrie Xtreme, 20 goals, 9 assists, 29 points in 28 games.
“Brett’s a guy who played for the Alberta champs, [and] the Airdrie Xtreme. Just a character guy, works hard, competes hard, lives and breathes hockey. One of our scouts coached him in spring hockey previously, so we had some good background information on the kid."
Logan Linklater, 6th round, 115th overall
Centre, 5’7, 135 lbs, West Central Wheat Kings, 23 goals, 49 assists, 72 points in 31 games.
Gunville: “After Christmas, we kept noticing this kid from West Central keep putting up points after points after points. He led his team and they ended up winning provincials … We like his vision and his ability to make plays. He’s got some filling out to do, but we have time for a guy like that. We hope he can carry it on through AAA; he’s going to play in Swift Current.
Tayem Gislason, 6th round, 119th overall
Left defence, 6’1, 161 lbs, Rink Hockey Academy, 0 goals, 9 assists, 9 points in 30 games.
Gunville: “He’s going to be a big guy. He’s 6’1" already. Long reach, long body ... He’s a big, shutdown type player. We were pretty happy to get him when we did.”
Matthew Gross, 7th round, 141st overall
Forward, 5’10, 160 lbs, Arizona Bobcats, 8 goals, 7 assists, 15 points in 26 games.
Gunville: “He’s a guy that we got tipped off on through some of the contacts we have down in Arizona, and our scouts we have in Minnesota. They saw him in at the Anaheim camp. Good, hardworking, two-way player, kind of a character kid. Our guys like him down there. We hope to see him in training camp. We took a flier on him, but from all accounts he’s a good hockey player.”
Eric Robbie, 8th round, 163rd overall
Right defence, 6’, 190 lbs, West Central Wheat Kings, 17 goals, 23 assists, 40 points in 31 games.
Gunville: “He was a key catalyst on their backend … Eric’s going to play AAA in Battleford. He’s got good size already, good shot. He’s got some work to do on his skating. He’s a guy that we project on being a good player going forward.”
Myles Hilman, 9th round, 185th overall
Forward, 5’6.5, 158, Red Deer Rebels, 21 goals, 18 assists, 39 points in 34 points.
Gunville: “Myles is a guy that just puts up numbers. He had an outstanding Alberta Cup ... He’s a little undersized right now, but he doesn’t back down. He doesn’t shy away. Our Red Deer scout Dallas Gaume really liked him and went to bat for the kid late in the draft. He’s an energizer type player and we think we got good value from a player like that. He was outstanding at the P.A. bantam tournament when they won the championship.”
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