In the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft the Red Deer Rebels walked away with a large haul of talent on Thursday.
In total central Alberta’s team made 10 selections including five forwards, four defencemen, and a goaltender.
With their first pick at 18th overall the Rebels selected forward Beckett Hamilton from Saskatoon. During the 2022-23 season with the Humboldt Broncos U15 AA, he notched 83 points in 29 regular season games and added 33 more points in the playoffs.
In the second round, Red Deer chose another Saskatchewan resident at 40th overall selecting defenceman Jake Missura who is also from Saskatoon. With the Saskatoon Bandits U15 AA, the right-handed blueliner contributed 25 points in 26 games.
“Jake is a really good skating, puck-moving defenceman that has a really good physical aspect of his game,” said Rebels Associate General Manager Shaun Sutter.
“The reason why he played fewer games is because he was suspended multiple times so he’s one of those guys who’s going to catch people with their head down. He hits to hurt people so even though he’s not a real tall guy he plays big.”
The Rebels did not have a third-round pick but in the fourth selected a left winger out of Richmond, B.C., Nickolas Kovich. With Delta Hockey Academy U15 Prep, the right-handed forward accumulated 36 points in 21 games.
“He’s a long guy who can skate, shoot, and bring some power to his game with the way he attacks the net,” Sutter said.
In the fifth round, Red Deer had two selections goaltender Peyton Shore at 100th overall and defenceman Millar Kramer at 106th.
Shore, who played for the Rink H.A. Winnipeg U15 Prep posted a 4.20 GAA and a .879 save percentage in 15 regular season games.
“Our scouting staff along with [goaltending coach] Ian Gordon really liked Peyton. Ian went through the interviewing process with all the goalies and had Shore as one of the higher-ranked goalies. We’re really happy to get him in the fifth round.”
Right-handed D-man Kramer scored 21 points in 28 games with the Battlefords North West Stars U15 AA. Sutter explained Kramer is a great skater.
“He’s kind of raw but he brings some physicality and some hardness to his game. He’s going to play for Battlefords U18 so we think he’s going to get a lot of good minutes.”
With the next five picks, the Rebels went ahead with four straight from Alberta.
The first came in the seventh round at 150th overall when they took forward Noah Milford who plays for his hometown Okotoks Oilers U15 AAA. In 2022-23 the right-handed centreman had 45 points in 32 games and added 12 points in nine playoff games.
“He’s probably one of the best skaters in the Alberta U15 league. He was captain of his team, can score, and he’s a really good penalty killer.”
In the eighth round at 172nd overall the Rebels went right back to the Okotoks Oilers selecting forward Kade Pierson out of Chestermere, Alta. The left-handed winger averaged a point per game with 33 total points in 33 regular season games. In the playoffs, he added 10 points in nine.
“Pierson is a big strong kid that brings toughness and probably one of the kids in the draft that has the most presence on the ice…Everybody seems to be in the rink when he’s playing physically and hitting people.”
At 194th overall in the ninth round, the Rebels picked up another defenceman this time out of Edge School U15 Prep in Calgary, Nate Yellowaga. The Calgarian put up 29 points in 29 games last season.
“He’s a first-round talent but he informed all the teams he’s going to play in Brooks in the AJHL. Where we’re picking in the draft we just decided if he’s playing anywhere in the WHL we want it to be Red Deer.”
In the 10th round, forward Nolan Schmidt from OHA Edmonton U15 Prep was selected 216th overall after posting 11 points in 15 games in 2022-23.
“Nolan was injured for most of the season but came back in the second half. It took him a while to get going but we thought he really came on. He’s a strong kid, can shoot the puck, and has some skill.”
And with their final pick of the draft the Rebels took defenceman Saul Astill from the Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 Prep. From Edmonton, the left-handed blueliner notched 13 points in 30 games.
“He’s a kid who’s grown throughout the year and got in sync with his body. We felt like in the last part of the season he really started to come into his own and he seems like a smart player that sees the ice and defends well,” Sutter said adding he plays similarly to former Rebels D-man Blake Gustafson.