Vancouver Giants used their first pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft to select 2005-born defenceman Mazden Leslie from Lloydminster in the 10th round.
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) April 22, 2020
Leslie, a right-handed shot, checks in at 6’0” and 160 pounds. In 2019-20 he played Midget AAA as an under-ager with the AMHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. In 32 games he supplied five goals along with seven assists for 12 points along with 70 penalty minutes. He added three assists in five playoff games.
A year prior, as a first-year bantam player, Leslie scored 23 goals and added 27 assists for 50 points in 33 games with the Bobcats Bantam AAA program. In four playoff games he scored four goals and added five assists for nine points along with 16 penalty minutes. He led the AMBHL in points by a defenceman, captured AMHL Rookie of the Year honours and was voted the league’s top defenceman. His older brother Jantzen Leslie is a WHL alumnus who played with Everett, Saskatoon and Edmonton.
“Mazden Leslie is a big, smooth skating defenceman. He can skate the puck well, he’s got a hard shot, a quick release and strong vision. He’s the most physical defenceman off the board so far,” said Zach Hodder, the WHL’s Manager, Player Development moments after the Giants made their choice.
Leslie is the sixth ever defenceman selected by the Giants in Round 1 of the WHL Bantam Draft, and the first defenceman picked in Round 1 since Bowen Byram went third overall to the Giants in 2016.
The Vancouver Giants added 12 new prospects to their organization, which included seven forwards, three defencemen and two goaltenders.
The Vancouver Giants selected a pair of talented forwards with their next two selections in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
In Round 2 the Vancouver Giants went to Vancouver Island to select 2005-born forward Ty Halaburda from Victoria.
Meet Ethan! pic.twitter.com/AL7vDwOjGJ
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) April 22, 2020
The 5”10’, 145-pound center is a right-handed shot and is coming off a strong season with the Pacific Coast Bantam Prep program where he scored 27 goals along with 26 assists for 53 points in 28 games along with 35 penalty minutes. He added a goal and two assists for three points in two playoff games. He was team captain.
“We’re thrilled to get him,” said Giants Director of Scouting Daryl Anning. “He fits the ‘Giants mold’ perfectly. He’s fast, physical and has a great work ethic. He’s a 200-foot player but can finish his chances. The biggest thing for us is that he’s a good kid and a natural leader.”
Halaburda, whose birthday is today, was the first forward and the second player taken by the Giants during the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
In Round 3 the Giants stayed in British Columbia for the selection of 5’10”, 160-pound forward Ethan Semeniuk.
Last season with the Delta Hockey Academy’s Bantam Prep Green program, Semeniuk notched 19 goals along with 31 assists for 50 points in 30 games. He added a pair of assists in two playoff games. In six games at the John Reid Bantam tournament, Semeniuk produced one goal and four assists for five points in six games.
“I like his skillset,” said Giants Head Scout Terry Bonner. “He’s a good skater with decent size and overall he has a really good hockey IQ and sense for the game.”
Ethan Semeniuk is the second forward and the third player selected so far today by the Vancouver Giants. He turned 15-years-old yesterday.
In Round 4 the Giants went to the Prairies to select forward Matthew Edwards out of Saskatoon, SK with the 76th overall pick.
Edwards is 6’0” and 180-pounds and produced 25 goals, 37 assists and 102 penalty minutes in 31 games with the Saskatoon Bandits (Saskatoon Bantam AA). He also dressed three games as an under-ager with the SMHL’s Saskatoon Blazers where he’ll play full-time next season.
Giants Scouting Director Daryl Anning said, “He’s the total package. A power forward-type player and very hard-nosed. He’s got good speed and plays with a lot of grit and determination. Fans will love his compete level. He’ll be very hard to play against down the road.”
With their fifth-round pick the Giants went to Alberta to select goaltender Colin Reay out of Sherwood Park AB.
Reay checks in at 5’9” and 161-pounds. He played last season with OHA Edmonton’s Bantam Prep program where he went 8-8 with a 3.28 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. Two of his eight victories were shutouts.
“He’s a great goaltender who carries himself very professionally,” said Giants Northern Alberta based scout Mike Green. “He controls his emotions well. His coaches rave about his character and his practice habits. A hard-worker that battles to stop every puck.”
In Round 6, the Giants drafted defenceman Brady Smith out of Prince Albert.
Smith checks in at 6’0”, 150-pounds and is a right-handed shot. He scored four goals and added 12 assists for 16 points 23 games with the Prince Albert Pirates (Bantam AA) team last season.
Vancouver Giants Saskatchewan scout Bill Gibson summed it up, “Brady is mobile, moves the puck well and is responsible defensively. He boxes out well and keeps the front of the net clear. He makes a good exit pass and is a model teammate. His coaches all speak very highly of his character and leadership.”
Brady Smith was the second defenceman and the second Saskatchewan-born player drafted by the Giants.
The Giants had two picks in Round 7, and used them both on American-born players.
The first one (135th overall) was used to select forward Christian Kim out of Torrance, CA.
Kim is listed at 5’3” and 125-pounds. He played last season with the Detroit Belle Tire 14U program, and spent the previous season (2018-19) with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks where he potted 22 goals along with 25 assists for 47 points.
Giants Scouting Director Daryl Anning said, “Christian Kim is a tremendously skilled forward. He’ll be exciting to watch. He’s got very good puck skills and is a strong play-maker as well.”
He was the fourth forward and first US-born player selected Wednesday by Vancouver.
Three picks later, the Giants drafted goaltender Jack Hochsprung from Apple Valley, MN.
Hochsprung is 5’11” and 165-pounds. He appeared in 31 games with the Lakeville South Cougars 14UAA program where he posted a goals-against average of 1.81 and a .926 save percentage.
“Jack Hochsprung has good size. We feel he’s one of the top goaltenders coming out of the State of Minnesota. He’s athletic, has good compete-level and challenges shooters well,” adds Daryl Anning.
He was the second goaltender and second US-born player drafted by the Giants.
In Round 8, the Giants went back to Vancouver Island with the selection of forward Randy McLaughlin out of Nanaimo, B.C.
McLaughlin is 5’10” and 185 pounds and is coming off a season where he scored 20 goals along with 14 assists for 34 points with the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy. He was a teammate of fellow Giants draftee Ty Halaburda (Round 2) and was an alternate captain with the Sea Devils.
“He’s a hard-working, honest player,” said Giants Vancouver Island scout Kelly Kursteiner. “He’s well-liked by his teammates and coaches, a really personable kid with a great family and he does a little bit of everything to help his team win games.”
He was the fifth forward and the third BC-born player taken by the Giants on Wednesday.
The Vancouver Giants stayed in British Columbia in Round 9 with the selection of defenceman Hunter McInnes from Abbotsford, BC.
Giants BC Scout Kelly Kursteiner on Hunter McInnes:
“He’s got some good skill from the back-end. He moves the puck well and plays a mean, hard-nosed game. He doesn’t shy away from corner battles, and he’s another player that brings strong character to the Vancouver Giants.” https://t.co/NqLsHcMCJe
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) April 22, 2020
The 5’11”, 158-pound right-handed shot had three goals along with 14 assists for 17 points in 27 games with St. George’s Bantam Prep program. He also appeared in two games with St. George’s Elite 15 team where he recorded two assists.
Kelly Kursteiner added, “He’s got some good skill from the back-end. He moves the puck well and plays a mean, hard-nosed game. He doesn’t shy away from corner battles, and he’s another player that brings strong character to the Vancouver Giants.”
He was the third defenceman and the fourth BC-born player chosen by the Giants during Wednesday’s draft.
In Round 10, the Giants went back to the State of Minnesota to draft forward Ashton Dhams.
Dhams is 5’10”, 145-pounds and a left-handed shooting winger who posted four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 24 games with Lakeville South High School where he was teammates with fellow Giants 2020 draftee Jack Hochsprung.
He added 16 points (10G, 6A) in nine games with the Blue Army U14 Selects and an additional four goals and two assists in 11 games with the MN BEL Bolts.
Giants US Scout Ryan Sawchyn called him “a really high-end player. Ashton had a really strong season playing against older competition in Minnesota High School hockey and He plays the type of game that I think really translates well to the Western Hockey League.”
He was the sixth forward and the third US-born player chosen on Wednesday by the Giants.
With their final pick, the Giants stayed local with the selection of forward Samuel Brown from Cloverdale.
Brown played the 2019-20 season with the Cloverdale Colts Bantam A1 program. He checks in at 5’10”, and 159-pounds. He is the son of Giants Senior Advisor Bob Brown.
“Samuel is a strong, honest two-way forward with size, and he skates well. A good honest player,” said Head Scout Terry Bonner.
Brown was the seventh forward and fifth BC-born player selected by the Giants on Wednesday.
Here’s the complete rundown of the Vancouver Giants 2020 WHL Bantam Draft:
Round 1 (#10) – Mazden Leslie (D – Lloydminster, AB)
Round 2 (#32) – Ty Halaburda (F – Victoria, BC)
Round 3 (#56) – Ethan Semeniuk (F – Fort St. John, BC)
Round 4 (#76) – Matthew Edewards (F – Saskatoon, SK)
Round 5 (#98) – Colin Reay (G – Sherwood Park, AB)
Round 6 (#122) – Brady Smith (D – Prince Albert, SK)
Round 7 (#135) – Christian Kim (F – Torrance, CA)
Round 7 (#138) – Jack Hochsprung (G – Apple Valley, MN)
Round 8 (#164) – Randy McLaughlin (F – Nanaimo, BC)
Round 9 (#186) – Hunter Mcinnes (D – Abbotsford, BC)
Round 10 (#208) – Ashton Dhams (F – Farmington, MN)
Round 11 (#230) – Samuel Brown (F – Cloverdale, BC)
Here’s the pick breakdown by region:
BC – 5
AB – 2
SK – 2
USA – 3
Here’s the pick breakdown by position:
F – 7
D – 3
G – 2
Among nine B.C. players selected in the first round, Langley’s Kaden Hammell, a defenseman with West Van Bantam Prep, was taken 19th overall by Kamloops Blazers.