Riley Heidt is the newest Prince George Cougars' top prospect.
The 15-year-old centre was taken second overall at the 2020 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft after the Cats won the lottery last month, moving them up two spots from the fourth position.
Heidt, originally from Corman Park, Sask., is a product of the Saskatoon Contacts in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL) and tallied 37 points in 44 games last season with 17 goals and 20 assists.
In his two seasons prior, in Saskatchewan's Bantam AA League, Heidt recorded 153 points in 62 games with the Martensville Marauders, including 58 goals and 95 assists.
“For us, Riley was one of the crown jewels of the draft," said Cougars' Scouting Director Bob Simmonds in a release.
"He’s an elite level forward and for us he was the best player available. He does everything at a high level, he thinks the game so well, and he prepares the right way. We expect big things from Riley looking ahead.”
"He's a guy that when he's on the ice and he has the puck, it doesn't matter if it's in his own end or in the offensive end, he's going to be able to create that offense," said WHL Player Development Manager Zach Hodder after Heidt's name was called.
"In his own end, he breaks out quick. When he gets the puck along the half-wall when he gets the puck in the middle of the ice, his feet are moving and he's up ice already. He pushes defencemen back, but he's patient enough to not take the bad shot.
"He can score, he can play in all areas of the game. He's a very good player that's going to come into a Prince George team that has stock covered up already. They're a team that's also in that retooling phase, they've got some very good prospects and adding mix is a positive for the Prince George Cougars."
The last time the Cougars had the second-overall pick was in 2012 when they took Jansen Harkins, ultimately becoming the franchise' all-time points leader with 242 points in 275 games.
Connor Bedard of the West Van Warriors went number-one to the Regina Pats after the 14-year-old became the first player in WHL history to receive exceptional status.
Prince George stayed in the northern B.C. region for its next pick, which was Caden Brown of Fort St. John at 17th overall.
The 15-year-old spent this last season as captain of his Delta Wild Bantam team and put on a scoring clinic with 65 points in 30 games, including 35 goals.
Brown has 95 points in his two years down at the lower mainland hockey academy.
“Caden is an elite level scorer, who plays a hard, heavy game," explained Simmonds.
"He’s a northern B.C. kid who has ties to Prince George and is very familiar with the community. We were thrilled to draft him and he’s the perfect complement to Riley Heidt."
The Cougars obtained this pick from the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Finally, Prince George's last pick in the first round of the 2020 bantam draft was Ryker Singer of the Lloydminster Bobcats.
Prince George earned the right to select the 15-year-old in a trade with the Portland Winterhawks.
The 2019-20 Alberta Bantam AAA MVP is another 30-goal scorer with 51 points in 32 games last year, but was also a physical force with more 128 penalty minutes.
“We were absolutely thrilled to have Ryker available to us with the twenty-second pick," said Simmonds.
"Like Brown, he’s an elite scorer in his age group. His shot and release are exceptional, he’s hard to play against, and he plays the game the right way."
All three of the Cougars' first three picks were forwards, representing Saskatchewan, B.C. and Alberta respectively.
This was also the second straight
Prince George picked 10 more players for the remainder of the 15-round draft:
- 26th = Bauer Dumanski, Defenceman from Humboldt Broncos Bantam AA
- 46th = Rylan Brown, Defenceman from OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep
- 66th = Zackary Shantz, Forward from Grande Prairie Bantam AAA Storm
- 70th = Chase Walker, Forward from Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels
- 92nd = Ephram McNutt, Defenceman from Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels
- 102nd = Dylan Compton, Defenceman from Shawnigan Lake Bantam Prep School
- 114th = Liam Hallett, Goaltender from West Van Bantam Prep Warriors
The Cougars did not use their last eight picks, giving two away to different teams in exchange for 2021 bantam draft selections.
This year's event, by virtue of the COVID-19 pandemic, was held online.