The skill factor took precedence over size as the Kelowna Rockets made speedy centre Rourke Chartier their first pick, 15th overall at the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft Thursday in Calgary.
Chartier, a native of Saskatoon, stands in at a rather diminutive 5-foot-7, 140 pounds.
Still, in the eyes of Rockets player personnel director Lorne Frey, Chartier’s long-term potential by far outweighs his current lack of size.
“He’s at the moment a 5-foot-7 forward, a very dynamic little player who’s competitive and plays with passion,” said of Chartier, who played last season with Saskatoon Stallions in Saskatchewan’s top bantam league. “There’s a good likelihood he’ll grow, maybe to 5-foot-10 or so and if he does that he’ll be quite a player. He was too good of a player at the time to let go.”
Frey said Chartier fits in a similar mould as current Rocket forward Shane McColgan, but has the potential to be a bigger player.
Chartier is the son of former WHL centre Marc Chartier who is also the coach of the Saskatoon Contacts midget AAA team.
For much of the remainder of the draft, the Rockets opted for more size and,
with their second choice, grabbed Austin Glover, a 5-foot-11, 150-pound right winger from Clavet, Sask.
“He’s a tall rangy guy, an excellent skater with very good skills, and a good two-way player,” Frey said of Glover.
In the third round, Kelowna elected Riley Stadel in the 51st spot overall, a 5-foot-10 defenceman from Surrey. The Rockets didn’t own a fourth round selection, but had three picks in the fifth round.
In the 90th overall spot, they took Thomas Spence, a 6-foot-2 goaltender from Moose Jaw, Sask.
“He’s a big goalie and very sound fundamentally,” Frey said.
Also in round 5, the Rockets took forwards Ryan Donaldson from Langley, and Justin Kirkland from Camrose.
In the sixth round, Kelowna took David Dunn, a defenceman from Russell, Man.
In the round 7, Kelowna had back-to-back picks (147, 148) and selected forward Gordon Wasteste, and Johnny Walker, a defenceman from Phoenix, Ariz.
In the eighth round, the Rockets picked up Fort St. John forward Lien-Miller Jeannotte.
The Rockets had no picks in the ninth or 10th rounds.