The homework is all but finished for Lorne Frey.
The Kelowna Rockets player personnel director is ready to put a year of studying and scrutinizing of young talent into effect on Thursday at the WHL’s bantam draft in Calgary.
The draft of 1996-born players will be web cast for the first time ever on www.whl.ca.
Frey and his scouting staff, along with general manager Bruce Hamilton met this week to put together a list of the prospects they will take to the draft, looking for the players they feel will be the best fit for the team in the coming years.
“I think it’s a strong draft year,” said Frey. “It’s a solid draft. There are certainly a lot of good players that are relatively the same. I think this may be the most difficult year in making decisions because a lot of the higher end players are all relatively the same. There isn’t a lot of separation among all of the players so it will be difficult.”
The Rockets will select 15th overall in the draft and are expecting to take as many as 10 players as the draft progresses. Unlike some years Frey says picking lower down isn’t a bad position due to the quality of the players and how close they are in talent.
“We think we’re going to get some good solid players and certainly everyone will,” said Frey. “It’s a question of how they turn out down the road, that’s the big thing. We hope that we make some good selections.”
As far as strategy heading into the draft, Frey said the Rockets will look to select the best player available when their turn comes around early in the draft before looking to fill in gaps in specific positioning later.
“I think in the first couple rounds we’re going to take what we feel is the best guy and go from there,” said Frey. “Then towards the middle or late rounds if we feel we need a defenceman then we will take a look at that.”
If the Rockets can duplicate what they did at the 2010 bantam draft the club will be happy. Kelowna selected two top defensive prospects early last year and both Jesse Lees and Madison Bowey made impressive debuts with the team this year.
Players eligible for the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft will be 1996-born players who reside in Western Canada and the Western U.S.