WHL Draft: Ty Smith First Overall Pick to Spokane


Ty Smith was the first overall pick this afternoon in the Western Hockey League’s bantam draft. The defenseman will join the Spokane Chiefs, who held the top pick.

With 28 points in 19 games for the Delta Hockey Academy this season, he was the top defenseman in the bantam ranks in British Columbia and Alberta.

“It’s a pretty exciting feeling,” said Smith after the draft to the Lloydminster Source, a newspaper in his hometown. “I’ve been thinking about it a little bit lately and I’ll just be honoured to play with Spokane in the Western Hockey League.”

The second and third picks went the to Lethbridge Hurricanes and Vancouver Giants, respectively. The Hurricanes selected Manitoba defenseman Calen Addison while the Giants selected Surrey native Tyler Popwich, a center, third overall.

According to NHL.com, the WHL can draft players from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as the U.S. states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Players could be selected who were born in the year 2000.

Popwich was one of the most interesting picks of the draft to the Giants. At 6’4, he is the tallest player to be selected in the WHL draft since 2010. He played last season with the Penticton’s Okangan Hockey Academy.

The fourth overall pick going to the Moose Jaw Warriors is Winnipeg native Jett Woo. Woo played against Smith in the Canada Winter Games where the two of them were the youngest players to participate, being born in the year 2000.

“Jett is a very dynamic, well-rounded defenceman and we’re very excited about including him into our organization. He brings a lot of physical play, as well as a high level of skill and a high hockey IQ,” Doug Gasper, Warriors assistant head scout, said of the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder to the Moose Jaw Times.

Smith himself is in a good category, after some other top WHL picks being  the Chicago Blackhawks; Jonathan Toews and the Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, both NHL stars now.

The players selected cannot become full time players for their junior club until the 2016-2017 season. Smith says that he might return to Delta to play for the academy again before he joins the Chiefs in the next seasons, but he might play for the Lloydminster Bobcats minor team instead.

“His vision is as a good as I’ve ever seen,” said Chiefs’director of player personnel Chris Moulton to the Edmonton Journal. Scouts had a chance to see Smith play as he led Team Alberta to a silver medal at the Canada Winter Games.

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