Winterhawks Add 12 New Talents in WHL Prospects Draft

Portland, Ore. – The Portland Winterhawks, proud member club of the Western Hockey League, made 12 selections during the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft today.

Portland drafted eight forwards, two defensemen and two goaltenders in the WHL Prospects Draft, adding to Wednesday’s haul of two defensemen during the WHL U.S. Priority Draft.

Players eligible for the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft were 2006-born players residing in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Assistant to the General Manager and Director of Scouting Mike Coflin spoke with following the selection process.

Round 2, Pick 36 – Luke Brunen, G

The Winterhawks dealt their 2021 first-round pick to Swift Current as part of the trade for Joel Hofer in 2019, so their draft began in round two when they selected goaltender Luke Brunen of the Warman Wildcats U18 AAA program. Brunen boasts an 8-0-1 record with a 2.45 GAA and .897% save percentage with Warman this season.

“Luke was one of the top goalies in Western Canada this season with Warman’s U18 program. We like his style as a big calm presence in the net, and how he consistently gives his team a chance to win,” said Coflin.

Round 3, Pick 59 – Reid Varkonyi, F

Next, Portland picked up its first of eight forwards on the day in Reid Varkonyi of the Northern Alberta Xtreme U18 Prep team. Varkonyi has racked up 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points in just 18 games this year.

“Reid is a complete player who was one of the leading 15-year-old scorers with 35 points in 18 games in the Alberta U18 league. He’s a mature player who can distribute well and finish,” said Coflin.

Round 4, Pick 81 – Cole Cairns, F

The Hawks opted for forward Cole Cairns of the Winnipeg Bruins U18 AAA organization with the 81st overall selection. Cairns has played 21 games with the Bruins this season, notching six goals and eight assists for 14 points in that span.

“Cole is a feisty right-winger, a big, strong power forward. He’s an excellent skater and a high-end competitor,” said Coflin.

Round 4, Pick 84 – Alex Thompson, D

Three picks later, Portland added to its blue line depth with Alex Thompson of the Sioux Falls Power 16U program after picking two defensemen in yesterday’s U.S. Priority Draft.

“Alex is a highly skilled defenseman from Winnipeg, potentially a dynamic offensive defenseman that suits our style of play in Portland very well,” said Coflin.

Round 5, Pick 103 – Hudson Darby, F

In round five, the Winterhawks went with Hudson Darby, a native of Swift Current, Sask. at 103rd overall. Darby has been prolific through 23 games with the Swift Current Legionnaires of the SMAAAHL this year, notching six goals and 10 assists for 16 points.

“Hudson is a competitive forward who wins his share of battles and has demonstrated an ability to finish. We like his intensity and steady progress during this season,” said Coflin.

Round 6, Pick 125 – Carsyn Dyck, F

Portland was back on the clock at pick #125, when they grabbed forward Carsyn Dyck, a teammate of second-round selection Luke Brunen in Warman, Sask. While Brunen has held down the back end, Dyck has tallied seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points in 24 games with the Wildcats this year.

“Carsyn is a quick, two-way winger who has emerged in the last two months to make a big impact on his team in Warman. We feel he has a complete game, somewhat comparable to Tyson Kozak,” said Coflin.

Round 7, Pick 136 – Nathan Free, F

Eleven picks later, the Winterhawks selected their second Alberta native of the day in Nathan Free, a forward from the Calgary Royals U18 AAA team. Free has recorded six goals and three helpers for nine points in 18 games with the Royals this season.

“Nathan is a goalscorer and a highly skilled forward out of Calgary. He’s got great offensive instincts that excited our Alberta scouting staff,” said Coflin.

Round 8, Pick 170 – Marek Schlenker, G

The Hawks added more strength in net in round eight with Marek Schlenker of the Okotoks Oilers U18 AAA program. Schlenker boasts a 5-5-1 record in 12 appearances with a 2.84 GAA and .907% save percentage on the year.

“Marek’s had an excellent year for Okotoks. He’s the son of NHL official Chris Schlenker and his quickness in lateral movement, attention to detail and dedication are high-end,” said Coflin.

Round 9, Pick 191 – Cohen Massey, D

Adding their fourth defensive prospect of the two WHL drafts this week, Portland nabbed Cohen Massey of the Yale Hockey Academy at #191 overall. Massey has netted a goal and 11 assists for 12 points in 14 games with Yale’s U17 Prep team this season.

“Cohen is a skilled, smooth-skating defenseman for Yale Academy. As he reaches physical maturity, we’re excited about his chance to play in Portland,” said Coflin.

Round 10, Pick 213 – Liam Goertzen, F

The Hawks added forward Liam Goertzen of the familiar Pembina Valley U18 program in Manitoba at #213. In 24 games this year, Goertzen has posted three goals and five assists for eight points.

“Liam is a teammate of Winterhawks 2020 draft pick Carter Sotheran in Pembina Valley, MB. He skates very well, and our Manitoba staff is really excited about the player he can become in the next two years,” said Coflin.

Round 11, Pick 235 – Ben Miller, F

Looking on this side of the border, Portland selected forward Ben Miller of the Hill Murray School in Minnesota with the 235th pick.

“Ben is an excellent forward for Hill Murray High School in Minnesota. He’s a tall, long scorer with a nice touch and great vision,” said Coflin.

Round 12, Pick 257 – Jamie Hikida, F

Concluding their draft, the Winterhawks were excited to see forward Jamie Hikida of the Greater Vancouver Canadians U18 AAA program still available and scooped him up with the 257th overall pick. Hikida has posted 12 goals and five assists for 17 points with Greater Vancouver’s U17 program, and one goal in six games with the U18 club.

“Jamie is the son of a former soccer player of the Canadian national team. He’s a great athlete, an excellent skater who is strong over his feet with excellent puck skills,” said Coflin.


The Winterhawks continue their season-long homestand this weekend with a pair of games against the Spokane Chiefs and the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss Game on Saturday, December 11 at 6:00 p.m. Single game tickets for the Teddy Bear Toss game are limited, so lock up your seats now to one of the best games of the year!

The all-new Flex Packs provide even more flexibility, giving you ten ticket vouchers to use any way you want at any regular season game. Ten tickets to one game? Two tickets to five games? Five tickets to two games? Doesn’t matter, any way you want.

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