A quartet of 2004 birth year players with ties to the Jr. Ducks were selected in the Western Hockey League’s Bantam draft on May 2.
Defenseman Josh Niedermayer was picked in the second round, center James Hong and goaltender Dylan Silverstein were selected in the fifth round, and defenseman Brodrick Williams went in the ninth round. The four are a high-water mark for the club in this draft.
“Coaches Alex Vasilevsky and David Walker have done a good job developing these kids,” said Jr. Ducks Director of Player Personnel Alex Kim. “Now it’s time to work harder. For those who didn’t get drafted, there are other opportunities to develop.”
Niedermayer was picked 30th overall by the Vancouver Giants. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound blue liner played for the Jr. Ducks until this past season, when he accompanied his family back to British Columbia. He scored 32 points (13 goals) in 46 Bantam minor games for the Jr. Ducks last season before putting up 25 points (12 goals) in 29 games for the Okanagan Hockey Academy Bantam Prep team.
“His compete level at Bantam and his work ethic were outstanding,” said David Walker, who coached him with the Jr. Ducks 2004 group. “His want to play the game and compete levels are very high. As a coach, you want to encourage that, and he plays that way all through the game. He’s a big, strong kid, and one who has a good head on his shoulders.”
Hong led the Jr. Ducks’ Bantam AAA team that qualified for the USA Hockey Youth Nationals in scoring with 22 points in 12 Tier 1 Elite Hockey League games and nine more points in six CAHA games. The 5-6, 144-pound Hong went 108th overall to Everett.
“His preparation and work ethic are excellent,” Kim said. “He is very mature for his age and very focused.”
Added Walker, “He is an extremely high skill player. He has tremendous speed and quickness and elusiveness. He’s got a lot of offensive upside. He can make high skilled plays at a high pace, which is the direction the game has gone.”
Silverstein played Pee Wees for the Jr. Ducks. The 5-11, 150-pounder went 95th overall to Medicine Hat. Two seasons ago, he had a 1.60 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage for the Jr. Ducks. He played up at 16U in the USPHL this past season.
The 6-1, 197 Williams was drafted 183rd overall by Seattle. He played for the club for several seasons, scoring 25 points (10 goals) in 46 Bantam games in 2017-18. He had 27 points (11 goals) in 54 games at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep this past season.
“Brodrick hasn’t been playing hockey that long, but he’s naturally athletically gifted, and he’s a big kid,” Walker said. “He’s got a great head on his shoulders. He wants to learn, he wants to get better. He’s always pushing and asking questions, and he takes the strides to get better.”
The WHL is a Tier 1 junior league that draws players from the Western United States and Canada. Being drafted by a WHL team doesn’t guarantee a player will ever play in the league, which is for 16-20-year-olds, just that the teams hold the respective players’ rights should they decide to play in the WHL.
“It’s good for the game in California, and for the Jr. Ducks in particular, to have these young players getting this type of recognition,” Walker said.
Last season, two former Jr. Ducks were selected in the WHL draft, one went in 2017 and three were selected in 2016.