Hitmen make list

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

From a superstitious standpoint, the Calgary Hitmen might want to deal their first-round pick.

But GM Kelly Kisio and his scouting team, led by Brad Whelen, aren't about to shop their 13th pick in today's WHL bantam draft due to an irrational notion.

Especially when the club expects to get a pretty decent prospect in the bottom half of the opening round, Whelen said.

"Yeah, it's lucky or unlucky No. 13, depending how you look at it," the squad's head scout said. "There's certainly some quality there. There are 3-5 players who could go No. 1, depending on a team's needs."

Regina Pats GM Brent Parker, who holds the top pick, is expected to snag smooth-skating defenceman Colten Teubert when the festivities begin this morning at the 'Dome.

Kisio, whose club will likely return all eight defenceman from this season, said he won't be drafting by position. He's interested in getting the best player available.

"You're always replenishing the back end or the front," Kisio said. "So we'll take the best guy available whether it's a defenceman, forward or a goalie. I don't know who that will be but our scouts have done a great job in the past so we trust them to do it again."

Whelen has been fine-tuning his list in the last few days, discussing his ideas with Kisio.

"These are 14-year-olds and you don't know where they're going to be in a couple of years," Whelen said. "Whether they'll still want to play hockey."

Whelen and his staff have conducted exhaustive interviews with the top-ranked prospects because no team wants a repeat of the 2003 draft when Tri-Cities selected Jonathan Toews, who decided to go to school instead, first overall.

The Hitmen would love to find an eventual replacement for Ryan Getzlaf, who somehow dropped to the third round (54th overall) in the 2000 draft.

But those players don't come along very often.

"Teams aren't letting too many skill guys go through to the third round anymore," Whelen said.

"But hopefully we'll find another mid-round gem."

The Hitmen have nine spots available on their 50-man protected player list, which allows them to draft into the ninth round.

While adding defencemen is certainly not a priority, they could pick up local blueliner Tyler Myers with their first pick.

"He's a converted forward with good size but he needs to fill out," Whelen said. "He has good puck skills."

Red Deer forward Matt Belich could also attract interest, although the Rebels are slated to draft one spot ahead of Calgary.

"He's not overly big but is a fierce competitor," Whelen said. "He finishes his checks and is an exciting guy to watch."

Abbotsford goaltender Ian Curtis is the top-ranked puckstopper and will likely be snapped up in the opening round. But Calgary, with starter Justin Pogge returning and 17-year-old Daniel Spence waiting in the wings, may pass on the 6-ft. 4-in. 'tender.

Regina, Swift Current, Prince George, Spokane and Moose Jaw own the top five choices.

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PROSPECT HUNTING

A look at the top prospects expected to be drafted early in this morning's WHL bantam draft:

1. COLTEN TEUBERT, D, White Rock, B.C.

Great skating ability and offensive upside combined with a big physical element has scouts drooling.

2. GEORDIE WUDRICK, F, Abbotsford, B.C.

Good-sized winger with a scoring touch. Perhaps best all-around forward in the draft.

3. TYLER SHATTOCK, F, Salmon Arm, B.C.

Big, strong presence. Was off most scouts' radar until the last few months.

4. DALE HUNT, F, Sanford, MB.

Consensus top-5 pick the entire season. Brings intensity every night.

5. NEAL PROKOP, F, Winnipeg, MB.

One of the biggest forwards on the block. Quick hands, could score in bunches.


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