By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent
During this Christmas break lull, I always find it interesting to take a look and see how some MJHL alumni are doing. This week, let’s take a look at the first round picks from the 2009 MJHL bantam draft. Some of these players are still playing at a high level, some are not, and unfortunately one is no longer with us.
1. Nikolas Kobelka, Steinbach Pistons. The first-overall pick ended up being a very solid MJHL player. The Beausejour native played three years with the Pistons before ending his junior career with the Swan Valley Stampeders. He had two 20-goal seasons, and had the chance to play in one Western Canada Cup.
2. Brendan Leipsic, Winnipeg Blues. The second overall pick never played a game in the MJHL. Instead he went the WHL route and was a star with the Portland Winterhawks. He was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs and has six NHL games to his credit. He is playing a big role with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies this year. His brother Jeremy is currently playing with the Portage Terriers.
3. Matt Vigier, Swan Valley Stampeders. The third pick overall tragically passed away in a motor vehicle collision not long after being drafted by both the Stampeders and the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors
4. Brayden Cuthbert, Neepawa Natives. The Brandon native opted to start his career in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, but played most of his career with the Neepawa Natives and at the end the Dauphin Kings. He played in several high-profile events during his junior career, including an RBC Cup, Western Canada Cup, and Under-17 challenge.
5. Daniel Dunn, Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Dunn was one of those draft picks that just didn’t pan out, as he only ended up playing four games in the MJHL with the Wolverines.
6. Ryan Leonzio, Winkler Flyers. This defenseman from La Salle ended up playing one full year with the Flyers before playing junior B with the Pembina Valley Twisters. He currently plays senior hockey with the Carmen Beavers.
7. Ryan Pulock, OCN Blizzard. The Dauphin/Grandview product is another one of those high picks who never played in the MJHL, opting instead to go the WHL route. He was drafted by the New York Islanders after playing junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Pulock has played 16 NHL games, and splits time between the Islanders and the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
8. Sutton Olson, Dauphin Kings. The Deloraine product had exceptional stats in midget AAA, and got a spot in the annual Under-17 tournament in 2011. But the stats never came in junior, and his junior career pretty much ended when he was traded by the Kings to the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.
9. Colin Beaudry, Swan Valley Stampeders (via Selkirk Steelers). The La Broquerie had a solid MJHL career. He played two years with the Stampeders and two more with the Steinbach Pistons. He was almost a point-a-game player with the Pistons and his top year saw him score 25 goals.
10. Brendan Harms, Portage Terriers. After two solid years (which saw he and the Terriers make the RBC Cup twice), Harms opted to play a year in the USHL before moving on to the NCAA ranks. He is currently in his final year with the Bemidji State Beavers.
11. Brett Stovin, OCN Blizzard (via Winnipeg Saints). His rights were traded to the Winnipeg Blues by the Blizzard and he played half a year in Winnipeg before moving onto the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. Stovin, a native of Stony Mountain, played a couple of ECHL games and is now in his second year with the University of Manitoba Bisons men’s hockey team.
So as you can see, drafting MJHL players can be a tricky proposition. But it’s an interesting exercise to see who drafted players they played long careers in the MJHL, who moved on to the pro or college ranks, and those who found other interests to pursue. Drafting a 14-year-old can be a tricky game, no doubt about it.