Local hockey players Jalen Price, Nolan Corrado, River Fahey and Matt Ubriaco are all one step closer to realizing every young athlete’s dream: playing in the big leagues.
In last week’s WHL bantam draft, held in Calgary, Price was selected 63rd overall by the Medicine Hat Tigers, Corrado was selected 71st by the Swift Current Broncos, Fahey went 74th to the Red Deer Rebels and Ubriaco went 191st to the Kamloops Blazers.
The Bantam Draft is held annually and players selected in the draft are added to a team’s Protected Player List (PPL).
Once a player is selected by a club, that player can only attend the tryout camps and other team activities of that WHL team.
Teams have 50 spots on their Protected Player Lists, which include every player on a club’s current roster.
A roster holds 23 players, meaning teams only have 27 spots left for prospects, so they are extremely careful about who they place on those lists.
That means it’s certainly an exceptional recognition for a player to be added to a team’s list.
Just because a player doesn’t get drafted in the annual Bantam Draft, it doesn’t mean they won’t end up in the league or go on to have a career in the sport, however.
There are always needles in the haystacks – or diamonds in the rough – when it comes to finding young talent who will go places in a sport, the league says.
“While the WHL Bantam Draft is the first opportunity for teams to select graduating Bantam players, it is not the last chance for a player to be listed or recruited by a WHL Club,” according to whl.com’s page on the Bantam Draft.
“After the Draft is completed, all remaining Bantam players become eligible to be listed by WHL Clubs, and many will be added as spots become available on a WHL Club PPL, or as player development improves at a higher level of hockey.
“While the WHL Bantam Draft is an exciting day for young players, it is important to realize that many excellent players will not be selected on draft day. For those players not selected, they will still have the opportunity to attend a WHL Training Camp and play in the league in the near future,” the league says.
For example, players the likes of Joffrey Lupul, Shea Weber, Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan were all passed over during the Bantam Draft but still went on to have exceptional professional hockey careers in the National Hockey League.
Price, Corrado, Fahey and Ubriaco won’t have to wait for open tryouts or future invitations, however, since, as of last week, they have already gotten one foot – or rather four feet – in the door of their prospective hockey futures.
Both Fahey and Ubriaco played for the provincial championship bantam Tyees team while Corrado and Price are former Tyees.