This past year was a special one for the Alberta Junior Hockey League as three players were selected in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
In the first round, the Colorado Avalanche made history by selecting Cale Makar from the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits.
Makar broke the AJHL’s record for highest drafted player which had been previous set by the Camrose Kodiaks Joe Colbourne. He was selected 16th overall by the Avalanche in 2008. Makar is now the second-highest drafted player in the Canadian Junior Hockey League after Kyle Turris was taken third overall in 2007.
Makar’s draft stock rose all throughout the season. He was named to the futures list by NHL Central Scouting last summer, then a “B” prospect and later an “A” prospect this season. In January, he was ranked 10th amongst North American skaters in January and later 9th in April.
This season, he showed dominance at any chance he had.
He finished the season scoring 24 goals, potting 51 assists for 75 points in 54 games with the Bandits in the regular season. He finished the AJHL playoffs by scoring 18 points in 13 games.
He scored eight points in five games at the Western Canada Cup, and eight points in five games at the 2017 RBC Cup.
His dominant season was capped with a plethora of awards. By the end of the campaign, he won the AJHL Top Defenceman award, AJHL Most Valuable Player, AJHL All-League Team, AJHL Playoff MVP, Western Canada Cup All-Tournament Team and Top Defenceman and RBC Cup Top Defenceman and Most Valuable Player. Makar was the first player to be named the RBC Cup MVP in back-to-back years.
His season was dominant and in the numerous showings I had of Makar I couldn’t speak higher of the young man. His skating ability was second to none and his ability to take over games showed night in and night out. Makar shows a lot of similarities to that of Erik Karlsson.
Next season, he will head to play for the University of Massachusetts. Their head coach, Greg Carvel, was an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators during Karlsson’s first two seasons.
He wasn’t the only players from the AJHL selected in this years draft.
In the second round, the Chicago Blackhawks selected Spruce Grove Saints defenceman Ian Mitchell 57h overall. He finished 12th in AJHL defenceman scoring last season with 37 points in 53 games. He played for the World Junior A Challenge West team as well as on the Hlinka Memorial Canadian u18 team.
A finalist for the AJHL Top Defenceman and AJHL All-League Team nominee.
Next year, Mitchell is committed to Denver University next year and leaves the Saints after compiling 64 points in 109 regular season games.
In the fifth round, the Blackhawks selected another Brooks Bandit in Parker Foo.
Foo, the younger brother of Spencer Foo (who the Oilers and in talks with), just came off a sophomore season that saw him score 66 points in 60 regular season games. Foo potted 20 points in 13 AJHL playoff games.
He went on to lead the Bandits in scoring at the 2017 Western Canada Cup and potted nine points in five games. In the RBC Cup, he scored five points in five games.
Foo is committed to play next season at Union College, where his brother Spencer is leaving from.
Overall, the selection of the three players is the highest number of players drafted directly out of the AJHL since 2012.
That year four players were drafted:
- Colton Parayko, Fort McMurray Oil Barons (3rd round, 86th overall, St Louis Blues)
- Rhett Holland, Okotoks Oilers (4th round, 102nd overall, Phoenix Coyotes)
- Matthew Benning, Spruce Grove Saints (6th round, 175th overall, Boston Bruins)
- Matt Tomkins, Sherwood Park Crusaders (7th round, 199th overall, Chicago Blackhawks)
The 2013 NHL Entry Draft saw two AJHL players selected:
- Carson Soucy, Spruce Grove Saints (5th round, 137th overall, Minnesota Wild)
- Mike Williamson, Spruce Grove Saints (6th round, 175th overall, Vancouver Canucks)
The 2014 NHL Entry Draft also saw two AJHL players selected:
- Brandon Hickey, Spruce Grove Saints (3rd round, 64th overall, Calgary Flames)
- Nikolas Koberstein, Olds Grizzlys (5th round, 125th overall, Montreal Canadiens)
In 2015 and 2016, no players were drafted out of the AJHL.