Kelowna Rockets will pick 8th in Wednesday's WHL bantam draft

Rare top 10 pick for Rockets

It's a rare occurrence when the Kelowna Rockets get to make a selection in the Top 10 of the WHL's annual bantam draft.

They'll get that chance when the league holds its annual draft Wednesday morning.

The draft was originally scheduled for May 7, but was moved up two weeks after the season and Memorial Cup were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rockets hold the eighth overall selection Wednesday, just the sixth time this decade the Rockets have picked in the Top 10, including last year, when they traded the fifth overall pick in a flurry of deals to load up for their Memorial Cup run.

The last time they picked this high, the Rockets took forward Luke Moffett with the 2nd overall pick in 2007. Moffett, an American born player, chose to stay at home and go the college route.

In 2002 with the fourth pick, the Rockets nabbed goaltender Josh Lepp.

Their other Top 10 picks this decade include defenceman Jesse Lees (9th in 2010) and forward Nick Merkley (9th in 2012).

The Rockets will make just three selections over the first five rounds Wednesday.

They hold their first and second round picks, and a third rounder from Regina. However, they dealt their own third (Kamloops), fourth (Regina) and fifth (Brandon) round picks in earlier deals.

Kelowna has a pair of picks in both the sixth and seventh, their own and Regina's selections.

They have also traded away their eighth (Spokane) and 10th (Medicine Hat) round selections.

Wednesday's draft will be the last for long-time assistant general manager/director of player personnel Lorne Frey.

He has presided over all 28 previous drafts with the Tacoma, then Kelowna Rockets.

Frey says the draft is one of the deepest in years. He wouldn't tip his hand as to whom the Rockets were eying, but did indicate which position he may target.

"There's a lot of good players in this draft, the first 20 to 30 kids are really good," said Frey. "We're going to take who we think is the best player, we always do. In all fairness though, we might be leaning towards a forward." 

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