WHL Update: 2017 NHL Draft Prospects

by sullydraftgeek on October 5, 2016

The 2016-17 season has just gotten under way out west in the WHL. Highlighted by a star studded 2017 NHL draft class and a solid group of 20-year-olds. This year I feel the WHL is in good contention when it comes to winning the Memorial cup. To start the year, it seems as if a lot of the younger players have come out red hot, several high scoring games led by 16 and 17-year-old’s. With the return of higher calibre players who are coming back from NHL camps I do expect that the numbers for younger players will start to slow down in the coming month. None the less these are the players who have stood out in the first WHL weeks and potentially players who could make immediate impacts upon their return.



Michael Rasmussen (Tri City Americans) – The 6-5 NHL draft eligible is starting off the season read hot. Building off of his impressive Ivan Hlinka’s performance, Rasmussen has managed five goals in just two games played including three power play goals. The sophomore power forward is a definite player to watch this season and has the finishing ability to be a top WHL scorer.



Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current Broncos) – Coming into his first year on North American ice, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 CHL Import draft has impressed many people I have talked to. With four assists in two games with Swift Current the Finnish playmaker has certainly increased his stock in the coming NHL draft. Described as a smaller player with excellent vision and puck distributing, I fully expect him to compliment whoever plays with him this upcoming season.



Trey Fix-Wolansky (Edmonton Oil Kings) – The former Spruce Grove Saint has translated his game to the WHL very well. Through the first couple games have managed two points including the first goal scored at the new Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton. A heavy player with a deadly shot, if there was anyone to help the offense of the Oil Kings this upcoming year I think he has to be a top candidate.


Jared Bethune-Colby McAuley-Justin Almeida (Prince George Cougars) – Through the first four games of the WHL season, this dynamic line has combined for a total of 22 points and 10 goals. Helping lead Prince George to an impressive 4-0-0 start, it’s certainly a line to watch this upcoming year and would be great to see how long they managed to stay together with a group of highly touted players returning from NHL tryouts to Prince George.



Joe Gatenby-Dawson Davidson (Kamloops Blazers) – A new dynamic top pairing for the Kamloops Blazers has fared well through two games. Combined for seven points and a plus one rating, the newly grouped pairing is a top the WHL when it comes to defenseman scoring. While it is early it would be great to see how they fair when more NHL talent returns.



Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes) – A smooth two-way right handed with a lot of offensive upside, Addison has proved why he was taken 2nd overall in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. With four points in just two games the 16-year-old defenseman has certainly put himself into contention as a top 10 prospect in his draft class. Looking forward to seeing how he fairs down the stretch on a heavily improved Lethbridge team.


Ethan Bear (Seattle Thunderbirds) – A player who has just recently been cut by the Edmonton Oilers and will be returning to the WHL, Ethan is definitely in contention to put up an exceptional season production wise and winning wise. A contender for the Canadian world junior team and a potential memorial cup visit this year. Arguably the Oilers top defensive prospect, Ethan is coming off an impressive season that saw him put up 65 points in just 69 games as a defenseman not to mention leading WHL defenders scoring in playoffs with 22 points. Ethan is definitely the most highlighted player thus far to return from NHL camps so far.


Matt Barzal (Seattle Thunderbirds) – While nobody knows what the Islanders are going to do with Barzal, if he were to come back to Seattle it would be a big boost to an already highly ranked team. The 16th pick in the 2015 NHL Draft has put up impressive numbers in all three of his WHL seasons and has a 1.24 points per game. The skilled offensive center is certainly a huge addition if he were to return.





WHL Power Rankings


  1. Prince George Cougars
  2. Regina Pats
  3. Brandon Wheat Kings
  4. Victoria Royals
  5. Lethbridge Hurricanes
  6. Everett Silvertips
  7. Seattle Thunderbirds
  8. Calgary Hitmen
  9. Kamloops Blazers
  10. Moose Jaw Warriors




Author: Brayden Sully (Twitter: @SullyDraftGeek)