By Kyle Prystupa, MJHL Media:
Earlier this month sixty-six young Manitoban prospects were selected in the 2019 MJHL Draft, since then teams and players have had opportunity to reflect the excitement of draft day and begin to visualize what the future might hold. Although the 2019 draft prospects are not eligible to be rostered this upcoming season, they are able play in up to five games as an affiliate player similar to the Western Hockey League. Thus, making the dream of wearing their MJHL colours that much more of a reality this season.
First overall selection Luke Robson was selected by the Waywayseecappo Wolverines who made a trade with the Neepawa Natives just prior to the draft to acquire the top pick. “I was very excited and honoured. I had so many feelings going through my head that I wasn’t sure how to react. I was very proud of myself, but my mind was blown away and I had never thought that I would ever get the chance to go 1st overall in any draft” commented Robson.
Robson, a center, hails from Carberry, MB and has played with the Southwest Cougars (BT-AAA) the last two seasons. The Wolverines tout Robson as a player with a high hockey IQ, poised in all three zones of the ice. Robson adds “the MJHL is a very good and fast pace league. The league is full of skilled players. I know many have managed to go on to play in the WHL or play college or university hockey. This tells a lot about the level of competition in the league.”
Karson King, another player selected in the first round, was picked by the OCN Blizzard seventh overall. King was also taken by the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League in May and was recently named to the U-16 Team Manitoba roster by Hockey Manitoba. “It’s definitely a lot of things happening at once but it’s all I’ve been working towards and to be selected to all of these great programs and teams is a really big confidence booster for me and makes me want to get better” says King.
The future shines bright for the MJHL with the selection of these prospects that dream of a professional career and see the MJHL as an opportunity to advance whether it be major junior of college opportunities. For teams the draft has given a clear avenue for parity since its establishment, but teams must still do their diligence in drafting effectively. Paul Dyck of the Steinbach Pistons notes “the draft played a vital part of the construction of our roster over the years. Many of the marquee players that have come through our program were selected in the MJHL draft.” Referring to the likes of Pistons stars that have excelled in the MJHL and moved onto further advancements such as Justin Baudry, Darby Gula and Matthew Thiessen.
Like any draft, time will tell how the 2019 draft class impacts the league and their teams.