Excitement is back in the air for the first time in what feels like forever in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, as the league will welcome 71 new players to the 11 respective organizations in addition to the 17 auto-protected selections.
The 2020 MJHL Bantam Draft has been moved up until this coming Sunday, April 26th at 9:00 in the morning. The draft is typically held in early June in coordination with the league general meetings, however the proceedings have been moved up due to the cancellation of the playoffs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
David Anning has had a lot of experience in bantam drafts before, and all of them have come as a Head Coach either with the old Winnipeg Saints of the MJHL or with the Brandon Wheat Kings. But this will be the first time he will lead the Pistons contingent, along with coach Paul Dyck, as the head of the team’s scouting department.
“A lot of work goes into preparing for the bantam draft. (Manitoba Scout) Kim Ridd, (Brandon Scout) Matt McNish and myself have attended countless games and we feel well prepared for Sunday,” Anning said. “We’ve had many good conversations as a staff along with the coaches as we’ve put together our list. It’s both fun and exciting going through the preparation and we’re all looking forward to Sunday and being able to add future Pistons to the program.”
Due to finishing first in the regular season, the Pistons will select last in each round of the draft barring any future trades (11th, 22nd, 33rd, 44th 55th).
The catch is that they have an extra 4th round pick (38th overall) and no selection in the 6th round (66th overall). The fourth rounder originally belonged to the Winnipeg Blues, but the Pistons acquired that pick from the Blues in the monster offseason trade that also brought Dylan Cassie, Ty Naaykens, and Codey Behun to Steinbach. In addition to acquiring a heap of prospects at the time, Winnipeg also received Steinbach’s 6th round pick.
Having an earlier pick in the draft still doesn’t change the gameplan for the team according to Anning. “Our mindset will be to take the best available players with our picks,” he explained. “Our staff is unified when it comes to our criteria and what we’re looking for as both a player and person. As we work our way through the draft we’ll make decision on position if all considerations are equal, but we want the best players we can get.”
As for the potential of the draft-eligible players this year, the Pistons’ Head Scout says there’s a lot to like. “The 2005 group is very deep in terms of MJHL potential,” he analyzed. “The depth of the draft is exciting as we’re going to be able to select quality players with all of our picks. There’s a lot of skill and talent with the forward group and several quality goaltenders available.”
The six players selected, again barring any potential deals, will join an already talented 2020 draft class with the Pistons auto-protections. “Before our draft even began, we start with two very talented local forwards in Job Peters and Luke Mistelbacher,” Anning said. “Both will be great players for our club in the near future.”
You can follow along with the MJHL Draft in real time by logging onto mjhlhockey.ca/draft, and the draft begins at 9:00 am, or you can tune into all Pistons social media outlets during Sunday morning. The Neepawa Natives will have the first overall selection.
PAST PISTONS FIRST ROUND PICKS
2009 – F Nick Kobelka (1st Overall)
2010 – F Denis Bosc (1st Overall)
2011 – D Justin Baudry (1st Overall)
2012 – D James Shearer (2nd Overall)
2013 – F Adam Touchette (7th Overall)
2014 – D Riley Bruce (2nd Overall), F Vaughn Dupre (4th Overall), D Mason Martin (10th Overall)
2015 – F Michael King (10th Overall)
2016 – F Max Neill (10th Overall)
2017 – F Landon Roberts (11th Overall)
2018 – D Ethan Johnson (11th Overall)
2019 – D Sam Court (9th Overall)
2020 – ???