Feeling the draft: Juulsen, Kawaguchi picked in WHL talent lottery

For Noah Juulsen, balancing the excitement of WHL draft day with the demands of schoolwork required a bit of stealth.

Noah Juulsen

Noah Juulsen

For Noah Juulsen, balancing the excitement of the Western Hockey League’s draft day with the demands of schoolwork required a bit of stealth.

So on Thursday morning, as he sat in his Grade 9 science class at Yale Secondary, he held his phone under his desk, periodically stealing glances at the WHL web page that carried the live bantam draft results.

Just before 11 a.m., the 15-year-old saw his name appear on the screen. He’d been selected in the fourth round, 70th overall, by the Everett Silvertips.

“I didn’t know if I’d go this morning (in the top four rounds),” enthused Juulsen, a promising 5’11” defenceman. “When I saw my name, it felt good.”

Juulsen, a member of the hockey academy at Yale, was captain of the Abbotsford bantam Tier 1 Hawks this past season. He’s a defensive-minded blueliner with an affinity for throwing hip checks, and he was pleased to end up close to home with the Silvertips.

Ten picks later, a second Abbotsford prospect came off the board, as the Spokane Chiefs snapped up high-scoring forward Jordan Kawaguchi 80th overall.

Kawaguchi split his time between the Abbotsford A2 and A1 bantam teams during the 2010-11 season, then elected to relocate to Kelowna last fall to join the Pursuit of Excellence (POE) hockey academy.

The 5’6″ youngster turned in a strong season, earning MVP honours as his POE squad won the prestigious Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament (KIBIHT) in April.

Kawaguchi boasts some pretty good hockey bloodlines – his cousin Devin Setoguchi, a left winger with the Minnesota Wild, has scored 103 goals over five NHL seasons.

Kawaguchi said he draws a lot of inspiration from his cousin’s big-league exploits, but noted they have contrasting styles.

“He (Setoguchi) is a pure goal-scorer – he always looks for the shot first,” Kawaguchi said. “But I see myself as a playmaker. I look for the pass first.”

Recent WHL draftees from Abbotsford:

2004 – D Chris Ickert, F Trent Fussi, D Mark Isherwood

2005 – F Geordie Wudrick, G Ian Curtis, F Clayton Cumiskey, D Spencer Lockert, D Brendan Nadolny

2006 – F Riley Boychuk, F Kellan Tochkin, G Nathan Lieuwen, D Jeff Regier, F Ryan Kowalski, D Scott Ramsay, D Joel Rogers, F Mike Cassivi

2007 – F Brandon Regier, C Grayson Downing, D Brett Kolins, C Sahir Gill

2008 – F Joe Kornelsen, D Tyler Pavkovich

2009 – F Jason Siebert, F Dalton Sward, F Chase Clayton, G Mackenzie Skapski

2010 – G Alex Orth, F Austin Ferguson

2011 – F Jake Virtanen, F Ryan Simpson, F Mitch Skapski, D Kyle Clayton, F Jared Virtanen, F Francis Bamford