The Four Part Series below:
Part 5, the final part, will be a little bit of a recap, going over these four drafts and how important they were to the Victoria Royals franchise.
By the Numbers:
40 Players Picked
16 WHL Players produced (40% Success Rate)
5 NHL Draft Picks (Christopher Wilkie, Tyler Soy, Chaz Reddekopp, Matthew Phillips, Noah Gregor)
1 NHL Free Agent Signing (Joe Hicketts)
35 Canadian Players Picked
5 American Players Picked
Only 1 American player picked has played any games for the Royals (Keith Anderson played 39 games)
Fourty Percent (40%) of players picked went on to become players in the WHL, although not all for the Royals, which is a pretty impressive number. Although, there were 13 players picked in the 7th round or later by Victoria, with a combined 25 WHL games being played by them in a Royals jersey (although the 9th round pick in 2011, goaltender Michael Herringer became an important goalie for the Kelowna Rockets).
Striking out in the late rounds is as devasting in the WHL as it could be in the NHL in regards to building a competitive hockey team. There were some big name players available in the later rounds, especially in the 2011 and 2012 Drafts, that would have pushed the Royals much farther than the constant 2nd round exits that we’ve seen over the past few seasons. Could they have been raising the Ed Chynoweth Cup instead of the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2017 with Tyler Wong and Jesse Gabrielle instead of Brayden Park and Markus Daly?
The Royals have been stingy on picking players from the USA, for good reason. Of the 5 players they have chosen, only one has played a game for Victoria, a brief 39 games by Keith Anderson. There isn’t a lot of data behind why American players haven’t worked out for them this side of the border, or to even suggest not picking American players in the future (they picked 7 Americans in the 2016 and 2017 WHL Bantam Drafts), but the pull to play NCAA hockey and go that route is even bigger than it might have been in 2011. The American junior leagues are more popular and more competitive than they’ve ever been and the lure of the Canadian Major Junior Leagues aren’t as strong to the American-born players.
Overall, the Victoria Royals did not have horrible drafts from 2011 to 2014. They drafted a lot of solid players who have been important parts of their core, like Ryan Gagnon and Regan Nagy, but there were players available at their spots who could have helped the team make the jump from a middle of the pack playoff team to a WHL Champion. We can only hope that General Manager Cameron Hope and his staff have used the 2015 to 2017 WHL Drafts to grab players who can help the Victoria Royals achieve that goal in the future.