Bruins go BIG in bantam draft

Eric J. Welsh,

The Progress

The Chilliwack Bruins added a lot of future beef to their blueline Thursday morning, snagging Keegan Kanzig with their first pick in the 2010 Western Hockey League bantam draft.

Kanzig came off the board with the seventh overall pick, and it’s easy to see why the Bruins were interested. At just 14-years-old, the native of Athabasca, Alberta, is already capable of blocking out the sun with a frame that stands six-foot-five and weighs 205 pounds.

Given a few years to pack muscle onto that frame, Kanzig could be a devastating force on the Chilliwack D.

Kanzig was on the net Thursday morning, tracking the bantam draft at when his name came up.

“I was on the website and one of our friends was also online, but theirs was moving faster than ours,” Kanzig said, explaining how he found out. “So my name showed up on their screen first and they called right away to tell me. Since then, a few calls have been coming in. It’s definitely an honour to be drafted, and hopefully I can bring a lot to their organization.”

Kanzig has the potential to bring something Bruins fans have never seen before, a truly elite shut-down defender.

Chilliwack has had some good defensive defencemen in the past. Matt Delahey springs immediately to mind. But they’ve never had someone who could completely neutralize an opposing forward.

Obviously, it’s a little early to place those expectations on Kanzig, but he does seem to have the physical tools and skill set to be that type of player.

“I bring a physical aspect to the game and my size definitely helps me out with that,” Kanzig said.

The big question with Kanzig is whether he can skate? Scott Ramsay was a good defenceman when he didn’t have to move, but Bruins fans still cringe when they remember him trying to handle a speedy forward.

If Bruins scouting director Gary Pochipinski is to be believed, mobility won’t be an issue with their latest first rounder.

“He moves really well for a big guy, really smooth,” Pochipinski said. “He needs to add some more muscle and work on a few other areas of his game, like all kids his age. But he has the potential to be a dandy.”

Kanzig spent last season with the Fort Saskatchewan bantam AAA squad, scoring eight goals and adding 56 penalty minutes while leading his crew deep into the playoffs.

“It was the greatest season I’ve had and I think it was really great to play in such a high pressure situation,” he said. “It would have been nice to win the last game, but someone has to win and unfortunately it wasn’t us.”

Kanzig and company battled through three rounds before facing the Calgary Bisons in the final.

After splitting the first four games of the best-of-five series, the Bisons earned the title with a 3-2 win in game five.

Kanzig will have something to discuss with two prospects taken behind him in the draft.

Goaltender Coleman Vollrath, taken in the third round (55th ova), was the goaltender for the Bisons in that series. Defenceman Brodie Clowes, taken early in the fifth round (90th ova) was also a member of that Bisons team.

The Bruins were truly surprised to get Vollrath where they did.

“His compete level is outstanding,” Pochipinski said. “He was key to his team’s success and we think we lucked out and got a good one.”

Chilliwack’s second round pick was Clay Spencer, a winger who spent last season with the Lethbridge bantam AAA’s.

His offensive stats are impressive. Spencer had 30 goals and 66 points in just 33 games, and Pochipinski said he can do a lot more than put up points.

“He’s a good sized forward (six feet tall) who skates well and competes very hard,” he said. “He goes into all the areas of the ice, has some finish and moves the puck to his teammates well. He’s going to be a good Western Hockey Leaguer, that’s for sure.”

Four picks before taking Vollrath, the Bruins selected Luke Harrison out of Westbank. A good-sized player at five foot 10, Harrison is known as a stellar skater with skill to spare.

“He’s one of the better skaters in the draft, and he’s got tremendous skill,” Pochipinski said. “His positional play is excellent and he plays the body well. He needs some more polish, but he’s a very, very good player.”

Between rounds four and seven, Chilliwack’s only pick was Clowes at 90th ova.

The next pick was early in round seven when the Bruins picked Kelowna native Brennan Clark 139th ova.

Four picks later, Chilliwack selected Drumheller defenceman Sean Davies.

The last two Bruin picks came in round eight when the team selected forwards Linden Bourne 167th overall and Reid Halabi 172nd ova.

While head scouts are always bullish on draft day, Pochipinski believes the Bruins got a good haul.

– Through nine rounds, only one Fraser Valley kid was selected when Abbotsford goaltender Taylor Orth went to the Red Deer Rebels in the fourth round (93rd ova).

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