The 2019 WHL draft took place today in Red Deer, Alberta, with the leagues “newest” franchise the Winnipeg ICE set to make the first two selections in this years draft.
The ICE somewhat surprised some members of the media by taking Matthew Savoie first overall, the reason for the surprise is that Savoie has a verbal agreement in place with the University of Denver to play his NHL draft eligible season in the NCAA. In order for that to happen he CANNOT play in the WHL/CHL due to rules put in place by the NCAA.
However, if he does play for the ICE the fans will be in for a treat. Savoie wanted to be considered for exceptional status as many feel he is a “generational player,” however, he was denied. He has a wealth of talent and has been compared early on to a number of NHL greats.
The ICE also originally had the 9th overall selection but they used it to make two moves. First, Winnipeg acquired the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 draft from the Saskatoon Blades along with defenceman Reece Harsch in exchange for the 9th overall pick, a 2019 second round pick, a 2020 second round pick, and a 2021 pick.
Harsch is a veteran defenceman who has played for the Seattle Thunderbirds, winning the WHL Championship with them in 2016, and he split last season between there and the Saskatoon Blades.
From there Winnipeg moved the 3rd overall pick and 2020 3rd round pick (originally Moose Jaw’s) to the Prince George Cougars for the 2nd overall pick in the 2019 draft.
With the 2nd overall pick, in what some would say is an insular maneuver in case Savoie does not play for the ICE, they selected Conor Geekie.
Winnipeg GM Matt Cockell had this to say about Conor Geekie. “Conor is just such an athlete, mutli-sport athlete still,” Cockell said. “He’s developing and is going to have a great release, great vision. He sees the ice tremendously well, has a big frame and we’re excited to add him to our team.”
Geekie tallied 86 points in 31 games this season playing for the Yellowhead Chiefs Bantam AAA club. He has 154 points with Yellowhead over two seasons.
Winnipeg was not done making trades. They sent a 2019 4th round pick to the Tri-City Americans for forward Isaac Johnson. Johnson has a big sturdy frame and can put up numbers at a point per game pace.
The rest of Winnipeg’s draft choices went like this: Rieger Lorenz 68th overall, Daniel Hauser 120th overall, Brayden Edwards 127th overall, Hayden Pakkala 142nd overall, Josh Mettimano 156th overall, Owen Boucher 157th overall and lastly Carter Spirig with the 169th pick of the draft.
Overall they had a rather successful draft, made some very necessary moves and are hoping to improve upon last seasons performance.
In other Winnipeg ICE news, Captain Peyton Krebs is expected to be selected this year at the NHL Entry Draft, Krebs was ranked 8th overall by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Peyton has been frequently compared to New York Islanders player Mathew Barzal.
Also goaltender Jesse Makaj could hear his name called at the NHL draft as well albeit later than Peyton Krebs. Jesse is ranked #27 by NHL Central Scouting amongst North American goaltenders.
The ICE will call the Wayne Fleming arena home for the 2019-20 season as their new arena is under development currently. The Fleming has been undergoing a facelift this offseason as they prepare to pack the arena to the rafters with ICE fans.