By Annie Fowler | Tri-City Herald
The Tri-City Americans selected a nice balance of players in Thursday’s Western Hockey League bantam draft, taking five forwards, four defensemen and one goalie.
“We really focused on the forwards early and the skill level,” said Americans general manager Bob Tory. “We have a lot of returning defensemen and good defensive prospects. The focus this year was on skill, character and leadership. All three of our top picks were leaders for their teams.”
The Americans used their first pick — seventh overall — to take 6-foot-2, 180-pound forward Michael Rasmussen of Surrey, British Columbia.
“We had him rated in the top three and we were fortunate to get him where we did,” Tory said. “We are excited to get him. He is a big man, a character leader on his club. He is a power player and competes really hard. At this age, size is not always relevant, but we always say we are going to take the best player available. Certainly his size is a real asset for him. He can still grow and get stronger, but for us the leadership and compete level was important.”
The Brandon Wheat Kings had the first pick of the draft, and selected center Stelio Mattheos of Winnipeg, Manitoba, with the coveted pick.
There were 21 picks among the 22 WHL teams in the first round. Portland had it’s first-round pick revoked as part of league sanctions levied against the Winterhawks in 2012, but they did draft 19th overall after acquiring Calgary’s pick.