2004 Bantam Draft
In 1990, the Western Hockey League established the bantam draft to better distribute the talent within its boundaries to its member teams. Each spring, teams are given their first opportunity to add players to their player protected lists (PPL) through the bantam draft. Canadian-born players and players residing in the state of Washington and Oregon who have completed their first year of bantam eligibility (14-year-olds) and American players who have completed their second year of bantam eligibility (15-year-olds) are draft eligible. Teams select in reverse order from their regular season finish the previous year. Teams must have an open slot on their 50-player PPL in order to make a selection in the bantam draft and can continue to draft players as long as they continue to open up slots.
The establishment of the bantam draft reduced the need for teams to scout players below the bantam level. This cut down on the scouting costs for teams as well as reducing the pressure as much as possible on the very young players. It also allowed the league to better distribute the top end talent among its teams. This, in theory, prevents certain teams from being very good or very bad for any extended period.
The creation of the bantam draft also created a new asset that teams could use in making trades. It has allowed the teams to more readily make trades by using mid to late round bantam picks to even the scales on many trades.