As we count down the hours to the 2020 MJHL Bantam Draft tomorrow morning at 9:00 am, we’ve decided to flash you back to a couple of very important drafts in Pistons history, and to see how they’ve shaped the Pistons franchise over the past couple of winning seasons.
Next up: The 2016 MJHL Draft
There was no shortage of talent selected by Steinbach during the 2016 MJHL Draft, but this class was instrumental in helping the team gain an important player for the 2018 Turnbull and ANAVET Cup team, as well as some big pieces of this past year’s regular season champions.
All players drafted by the Pistons in 2016 are still playing today, but most aren’t suiting up in white and blue.
Here were the Pistons’ selections for the 2016 MJHL Draft:
1st Round, 10th overall – F Max Neill – Central Plains Capitals Bantam AAA
It’s not often that the Pistons select a player from a rival town, but that’s just what they did as Portage la Prairie native Max Neill was picked in the first round of the 2016 MJHL Draft from the Central Plains Capitals. Neill scored 12 goals and 35 points in 35 games played with the Capitals.
After two seasons playing U-18 hockey, he made the jump to the Pistons and was the youngest player on the roster in 2018-19, scoring 9 goals and 5 assists in 51 games played. Neill became a regular in the Pistons lineup and made a big leap this season in production with 15 goals and 28 points in 55 games played, plus notching a couple of assists in a shortened playoff run. He also led Steinbach with 8 power play goals.
Neill figures to be a key cog next season in the Steinbach machine, and could be in line for a role on the Pistons’ top 6.
2nd Round, 21st overall – F Tristen Robins – Brandon Wheat Kings Bantam AAA
In Coach Paul Dyck’s own words, the Pistons took a flier with their second-round selection and used it on Tristen Robins, a high-scoring forward from the bantam Brandon Wheat Kings. Robins was the leading goal-scorer in the Manitoba Bantam AAA League that season with 51 goals. He also added 40 helpers for 91 points in 35 games played, also good for 2nd amongst all forwards.
He played two seasons of U-18 hockey with Rink Hockey Academy and got into one game as an AP with Steinbach in 2017-18, notching his first career junior goal against the Neepawa Natives.
However, the WHL came calling and Robins has spent his first two full seasons in junior hockey with the Saskatoon Blades. Robins exploded onto the scene in 2019-20, scoring 33 goals and 73 points in 62 games to lead the Blades in scoring before COVID-19 shut down the season. He’s also expected to be selected in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
3rd Round, 32nd overall – D Matthew Boonstra – Eastman Selects Bantam AAA
Matthew Boonstra was chosen with Steinbach’s third-round choice in the 2016 MJHL Draft. The d-man from Garson, Ontario had 38 points in 32 games for the Eastman Selects in his draft year.
He never made it to play for the Pistons, as Boonstra was part of a package sent to the Dauphin Kings in 2017 as part of a deal that brought forward Riese Gaber to Steinbach. The University of North Dakota commit Gaber helped the Pistons win the Turnbull and ANAVET Cup in 2018, while Boonstra still remains a part of the Kings organization.
4th Round, 43rd overall – F Brayden Clark – Winnipeg Warriors Bantam AAA
Clark put up 24 goals and 66 points in 34 games for the Winnipeg Warriors, which resulted in the Pistons choosing the Winnipeg native with their fourth-round pick.
He got into one regular season game with Steinbach in 2018-19, and also skated in two playoff games as an ‘AP’. But Clark was part of the package sent to the Winnipeg Blues in that blockbuster offseason trade that brought Dylan Cassie, Codey Behun, and Ty Naaykens to Steinbach. He was soon traded to the Selkirk Steelers before the 2019-20 season began.
5th Round, 48th overall – D Connor Tyhy – Winnipeg Warriors Bantam AAA
The first of two fifth-round choices for Steinbach, Tyhy scored 2 goals and added 21 assists in 33 games for the Winnipeg Warriors.
He didn’t dress in a game for the Pistons as he, like Clark, was also part of the Pistons’ trade package sent to the Winnipeg Blues in the 2019 offseason. Tyhy played for the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for four games in 2019-20, but was traded back into the MJHL with the Selkirk Steelers.
5th Round, 54th overall – G Danton Belluk – Eastman Selects Bantam AAA
Belluk was the first goalie to be selected in that year’s draft, and he went to the Pistons in the fifth round. He became the all-time leader in minutes played for the Eastman Selects U-18 team, and went to the 2018 RBC Cup in Chilliwack with Steinbach as the emergency goalie.
He was poised to be a part of the goalie tandem with Matt Lenz at the start of the 2019-20 season, but the WHL’s Regina Pats called him up to their squad as the regular season began.
Belluk was sent back down to the Pistons in December and played in four games with Steinbach, recording a 2-1-1 record with a 2.13 GAA and a .922 SV%. But the Pats called him up again at the trade deadline, and that’s where Belluk remained for the rest of the 2019-20 season.
6th Round, 59th overall – D Jonathan Lambos – Winnipeg Monarchs Bantam AAA
Lambos was the Pistons’ last pick of the 2016 MJHL Draft, as the d-man notched 15 goals and 43 points in 32 games in his final year of bantam hockey with the Monarchs.
He is now currently playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings. In 2019-20, Lambos scored 5 goals and 15 points in 62 games for Brandon before the season was shut down due to COVID-19.
You can follow along with the 2020 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.