The WHL Draft has been renamed and was also moved from May to December, the league announced Monday. (Photo courtesy of WHL)

WHL renames Bantam Draft, pushes it to December

The WHL Bantam Draft is no longer – in a manner of speaking.

The league announced Monday that it was renaming the draft, calling it simply the WHL Draft. The other portion of the announcement was the movement of the draft from May 2021, to December of 2021.

In a news release, the league said the pushed back date will allow eligible players additional evaluation time.

“Moving the 2021 WHL Draft from May to December allows additional time for players in the 2006 age group to be evaluated following a challenging season due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said WHL Commissioner Ron Robison.

“We anticipate minor hockey leagues and tournaments will be fully operational in the fall, which will allow players to compete at a high level once again.”

The 2020 WHL Bantam Draft was held on April 22 and the Red Deer Rebels picked sixth overall. They selected Shaunavon, Sask., product Kalan Lind. Lind, playing for the Saskatoon Contacts this season in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League has seven goals and seven assists in six games. He won’t be eligible to suit up for the Rebels until the 2021-22 season.

Players eligible for the 2021 WHL Draft will be 2006-born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Last spring, the WHL also held its first-ever U.S. Prospects Draft, a two-round supplemental draft for only American born prospects. That event will also likely be moved to December.

The Red Deer Rebels picked first overall in the 2020 U.S. Prospects Draft and selected Gracyn Sawchyn of Minneapolis, Minnesota.