Blazers scouts staying close to home to assess best bantam talent

By Chad Klassen
March 27, 2018 - 12:59pm Updated: March 27, 2018 - 5:59pm

KAMLOOPS — Blazers' director of player personnel Matt Recchi and GM Stu MacGregor will be busy this week assessing the players that are on their shortlist for the Western Canadian Championship in Kamloops starting Thursday. 

"There's a lot of players here that we've seen throughout the year, going all the way out to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta," said Recchi. "Our scouts have identified players. I've seen them numerous times, so we've got our eye on a specific number of players that we'll watch here closely."

The Western Canadians are the start of a busy next month for Blazers scouts and management with tournaments every weekend leading up to the May 3 WHL Bantam Draft in Red Deer. 

"Every weekend we're busy. This weekend is the Western Canadians here, which is nice. We don't have to go anywhere," said MacGregor. "Then the following weekend, we head to Winnipeg for the Pursuit of Excellence in Manitoba."

Focusing on this week, the Blazers say there are many players, especially from the Prairie teams, that are being targeted. 

"Airdrie has a couple blue-chippers," noted Recchi. "Winnipeg, there's some players - [Conner] Rouelette. [Craig] Armstrong in Airdrie. There are a lot of good players here that are guys that are going to probably step right into the Western League at 16, and worse case 17."

The Blazers aren't looking for a specific position to fill but are scouting out the best player they can pick at No. 5. 

"When you're picking high in the draft, you're looking for the best available player," said MacGregor. "There's a lot of high-end forwards and everybody can use someone that can score."

As for any prospects on the host Thompson Junior Blazers, the big club has been following the team closely during their season. 

"Kamloops has had a real good year this year, and once again they're going to have a chance here to win the Western Canadians," said Recchi. "They have players like [Chase] Cooke, [Braden] Smith on the backend, [Reagan] Milburn up front, [Brendan] Hunchak. There's a good crop of players on the team that we've been tracking all year. We look for them to step up here in the championship."

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