2023 WHL Prospects Draft preview, 2022 Draft Recap
The 2023 WHL Prospects Draft is set for Thursday, May 11 and will feature the 2008-born crop of players from Western Canada. The Draft Lottery was held on March 29 and saw the Prince Albert Raiders claim the first overall pick, along with second overall as they held both Edmonton’s (1st) and their own (2nd) picks. The Broncos picks in 2023 are as follows:
*This pick, along with a 2025 5th, was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for Ty Hurley and a 2025 7th. (November 17, 2022)
The following picks were traded by the Broncos in previous moves:
1st Round – 6th overall
This pick, along with a 2022 3rd (previously acquired from Regina), was traded to the Vancouver Giants in exchange for the 26th overall pick in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft. The pick was used to select Jace McFaul (May 19, 2022).
5th Round – 96th overall
This pick was traded to the Regina Pats in exchange for defenceman Adam McNutt (October 12, 2022).
6th Round – 118th overall
This pick was traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for defenceman Kayden Sadhra-Kang (October 8, 2021).
2022 U.S. Priority Draft Review
The 2022 WHL U.S. Priority Draft took place May 18, 2022 with the Broncos holding the 12th and 33rd overall selections. Swift Current selected a defenceman and a forward with those picks.
12th Overall – Tyson Ulmer
The Broncos took a familiar name when they selected Tyson Ulmer of Grand Forks, North Dakota with the 12th overall pick. He is the grandson of long-time Broncos scout Dennis Ulmer. In 2022-23 Ulmer skated in 11 games with the North Dakota U15 AAA team of the Minnesota High Performance League recording nine points (5-4-9).
33rd Overall – Lincoln Kuehne
A late 2007-born defenceman from Fargo, North Dakota, Kuehne had a strong 2022-23 season by racking up 28 points (10-18-28) in 52 games his Northstar Christian Academy U16 AAA team. Kuehne was named to the 2023-24 U.S. National Development Team for the upcoming season, a program based in Plymouth, Michigan that will feature the top 2007-born players from across the United States.
2023 U.S. Priority Draft Preview
The Western Hockey League held a lottery giving each team that missed the 2023 WHL playoffs an equal chance at landing the first overall pick in the 2023 Priority Draft. The Broncos landed at the fourth overall selection and will also hold the 30th overall pick. The Draft is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10 at 10:00 am.
2022 WHL Prospects Draft Review
The 2022 WHL Prospects Draft was back in it’s familiar May time slot after being delayed until December for the 2021 Draft, and saw 2007-born players enter the WHL. The Broncos made 11 selections in 2022, including five in the top-52 of the draft. Below is a list of players the Broncos selected:
6th Overall – Peyton Kettles (D)
Swift Current entered the draft holding the fifth overall selection, but made a deal with the Regina Pats to trade down one spot in exchange for sixth and 54th overall in 2022. For a third first-round pick in a row the Broncos looked East to Manitoba and drafted defenceman Peyton Kettles with that pick. The tall, right-shot defender now stands at nearly 6’4” despite not turning 16 until September 1. Serving as team captain for Rink Hockey Academy Winnipeg’s U15 team in 2021-22, Kettles recorded 35 points (9-36-35) in 30 games. Kettles made a smooth transition to the U18 level in 2022-23, recording 16 points (2-14-16) in 22 games. He also added three points (1-2-3) in three games during the CSSHL Championships. Kettles made his WHL debut on December 2, 2022, a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg ICE.
|2022-23||Rink Hockey Academy Winnipeg U18 (CSSHL)||22||2||14||16||20|
26th Overall – Jace McFaul (D)
After swinging a deal with the Vancouver Giants, sending them 54th overall in 2022 and a 2023 1st, the Broncos acquired the 26th overall pick to ensure they could select defenceman Jace McFaul. The Edmonton native spent his draft year on Vancouver Island with the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy U15 (PCHA) team picking up 46 points (13-33-46) in just 30 games. His 46 points put him 4th amongst all defenders at the U15 level in 2021-22. McFaul stayed on The Island for 2022-23, jumping up to the U18 PCHA team and recording 20 points (6-14-20) in 31 games, putting him fifth amongst 2007-born defenders. McFaul then upped his game at the CSSHL Championships by scoring three goals in three games. McFaul signed with the Broncos on September 6.
|2022-23||Pacific Coast Hockey Academy U18 (CSSHL)||31||6||14||20||20|
30th Overall – Parker Rondeau
The Broncos didn’t have to look far with their 30th overall pick, selecting Parker Rondeau who is a Swift Current native and spent his draft season playing for the U15 Broncos. The son of Broncos alum Jeremy Rondeau, Parker had an exceptional draft year by racking up 68 points (42-26-68) in just 31 games. He helped the U15 Broncos reach the league final by adding 16 points (7-9-16) in 10 playoff games. His 42 goals ranked fourth in the SAAHL U15 last season. In 2022-23, Rondeau had a strong transition to the Saskatchewan U18 League with 40 points (17-23-40) in 42 games. The 40 points were seventh amongst 2007-born players in the SMAAAHL. Rondeau signed with the Broncos on August 15.
|2022-23||Swift Current Legionnaries (SMAAAHL)||42||17||23||40||26|
42nd Overall – Ty Coupland (F)
The Broncos were beyond thrilled to see Ty Coupland still available with the 42nd overall pick, taking the North Vancouver native at the tail end of the second round. Limited to just 21 games with his U15 Vancouver NorthWest Hawks in 2021-22, Coupland still averaged over three points per game with 65 points (36-29-65) in his draft year. Moving to the CSSHL ranks for this past year, Coupland appeared in 28 games for Burnaby Winter Club’s U18 program and recorded 35 points (15-20-35). He also made quite the first impression on the Broncos, scoring the eventual game-winning goal against the Spokane Chiefs on February 3, in just his second WHL game. He became the first player in their 15-year-old season to score for the Broncos since Ashley Buckberger in 1990-91.
|2022-23||Burnaby Winter Club U18 (CSSHL)||28||15||20||35||20|
52nd Overall – Brennan Brown (F)
Returning to Saskatchewan for their third-round pick, the Broncos drafted Weyburn native Brennan Brown at 52nd overall. The big-bodied forward is listed at 6’3” and 175 pounds on the SMAAAHL website. In his draft year Brown posted 45 points (20-25-45) in 29 games with the U15 Weyburn Wings. He was one of only three 2007-born forwards on the U18 Moose Jaw Warriors in 2202-23, recording six points (2-4-6) in 44 games.
|2022-23||Moose Jaw Warriors U18 (SMAAAHL)||44||2||4||6||4|
74th Overall – Berney Weston (G)
The Broncos looked to their backyard for a second time and selected Gull Lake native Berney Weston from the U15 Broncos with the 74th overall pick. Though small in stature, Weston has succeeded at every level he’s played so far in his hockey career. After going 12-4 with a 2.66 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in his draft year, Weston made the transition to the U18 level look rather easy with a 20-7-2 record, 2.86 GAA and .909 save percentage. He then bumped those numbers to 2.81 and .916 in five playoff games. Weston even played one game in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for the Weyburn Red Wings on October 28, turning aside 29 shots in a 4-1 win over the Nipawin Hawks. He was named the SJHL’s Goalie of the Week for his effort. Weston signed with the Broncos on September 14.
|2022-23||Swift Current Legionnaires (SMAAAHL)||31||20-7-2||.909||2.86||1|
118th Overall – Levi Benson (F)
Abbotsford native Levi Benson had a fine 2021-22 campaign, but blew away expectations after being drafted. The younger brother of Winnipeg ICE forward and top 2023 NHL Draft prospect Zachary Benson, Levi showcased his playmaking skills in his draft year with 28 points (4-24-28) in 30 games with the U15 Yale Hockey Academy program. Moving to the U17 level for 2022-23 Benson exploded offensively with 63 points (16-47-63) in just 33 games, leading the CSSHL U17 Division in scoring. While small in stature, now standing around 5’4”, Benson clearly doesn’t allow that to hinder is performance on the ice. He finished the season strong with seven points (4-3-7) in four games at the CSSHL Championships.
|2022-23||Yale Hockey Academy U17 (CSSHL)||33||16||47||63||16|
140th Overall – Jaxen Gauchier (F)
Much like Levi Benson, Jaxen Gauchier took major strides after being drafted into the WHL. Playing for the U15 Grand Prairie Storm in 2021-22 Gauchier recorded 35 points (11-24-35) in 34 games before adding eight points (3-5-8) in five playoff games. He also joined the U16 team for the playoffs as an underager, fitting in just fine with four points (2-2-4) in four games. Moving to the CSSHL after being drafted by the Broncos, Gauchier finished tied for second in scoring in the U17 Division with 58 points (24-34-58) in 30 games for the Northern Alberta Xtreme. He also played a key role in helping the U17 Xtreme claim the U17 Division Championship by adding seven points (4-3-7) in five playoff games, including assisting on the overtime winner in the championship game. Gauchier signed with the Broncos on March 25.
|2022-23||Northern Alberta Xtreme U17 (CSSHL)||30||24||34||58||37|
184th Overall – Brennan Hocher (D)
After no eighth-round pick the Broncos went to the Edge School in Calgary with their ninth-round selection and drafted defenceman Brennan Hocher. A self-described defensive defenceman, Hocher actually doubled his offensive production from the U15 level to the U17 level. After six points (1-5-6) in 22 games in 2021-22, Hocher posted 12 points (3-9-12) in 23 games with the U17 Edge School program in 2022-23. He was named a finalist for the CSSHL U17 Division’s Defenceman of the Year.
|2022-23||Edge School Peep U17 (CSSHL)||23||3||9||12||6|
206th Overall – Wesley Olson (F)
The Broncos grabbed a third member of the U15 Swift Current Broncos by drafted Wesley Olson of Chaplin with their 10th-round pick. Olson parlayed a strong regular season of 42 points (24-18-42) into an excellent playoff performance of 16 points (2-14-16) to get onto draft radars in 2022. Joining Rondeau and Weston with the Swift Current Legionnaires for 2022-23, Olson posted 12 points (4-8-12) in 44 games.
|2022-23||Swift Current Legionnaires||44||4||8||12||32|
228th Overall – Jack Clark (F)
With their final pick in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft, the Broncos took high-scoring forward Jack Clark out of Wawanesa, Manitoba. With the U15 Southwest Cougars in 2021-22, Clark racked up 52 points (35-17-52) in just 29 games before tacking on an additional 13 points (8-5-13) in just six playoff games. Moving up to the U18 Cougars in 2022-23, Clark provided solid secondary scoring with 18 points (9-9-18) in 39 games.
|2022-23||Southwest Cougars U18 (MU18HL)||39||9||9||18||28|