It is a small victory but the Prince George Cougars will take it.

In many previous years, including 2019, the Cougars have dropped down in the  WHL Bantam Draft Lottery, but this year PG came out a winner.

Despite just a 14 per cent chance of winning the lottery, a Prince George ball was drawn.

This means the Cougars move up the maximum two spots and will pick 2nd overall in the April 22nd Draft which will be held online.

As a bonus, the Cougars already know the player the Regina Pats will take ahead of them.

In a story in the Regina-Leader-Post, GM John Paddock told reporter Greg Harder that the Pats will select forward Connor Bedard, who has been granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada.

Bedard, who does not turn 15 until July 17, is eligible to become a full-time WHL player a year ahead of schedule in 2020-21.

Cougars GM Mark Lamb admits that Bedard is an extraordinary talent worthy of going number-one.

Is Lamb prepared to say who Prince George will take next?

“If we get clearance thru the league (WHL) to announce our choice then we will go public with it.”

Lamb admits the Cougars still are not sure who that player will be as discussions are going on with potential prospects and their families.

It would not be a surprise if the Cougars selected either Brayden Yager or Riley Heidt, two forwards with the Saskatoon Contacts who applied for exceptional status in the WHL this season but were denied.

Bedard is the first WHL player and seventh CHL player to be granted exceptional status. The others are John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day and Shane Wright from the OHL and Joe Veleno of the QMJHL.

Lamb says he believes this is one of the deepest Bantam Drafts ever which bodes well for Prince George.

Because of earlier trades, the Cougars have two other first-round picks at #17 and #22.

Building thru the draft has been Lamb’s plan since taking over the GM duties two years ago.

It’s arguably the best way to success, but only if the team makes the right picks taking into account talent, attitude, leadership among other qualities.

Prince George had two picks in the top four last year (Defenceman Keaton Dowhaniuk and forward Koehn Ziemmer).

Both made a cameo appearance in 2019-20 with the Cougars and would appear to have a good chance of landing a full-time roster spot as 16-year-olds in 2020-21.

The Cougars also had two first-round picks in 2018: forward Craig Armstrong (9th overall) and goalie Tyler Brennan (21st overall).

Both Armstrong and Brennan were part of the Cougars team in the virus-shortened season.

Add it up and that’s seven-first round picks in three years, three of them in the top-four.

Lamb has been preaching patience which is a word often used by teams that have missed the playoffs in three straight years.

The Cougars have put themselves in a position to finally turn the corner and become highly competitive in the near future, but only if they succeed at the draft table which is much easier said than done.

The first-round order of the WHL Bantam Draft:

1. Regina Pats (from Swift Current Broncos via Lethbridge)
2. Prince George Cougars
3. Moose Jaw Warriors
4. Tri-City Americans
5. Saskatoon Blades (from Regina Pats)
6. Red Deer Rebels
7. Seattle Thunderbirds
8. Kelowna Rockets
9. Victoria Royals
10. Vancouver Giants
11. Medicine Hat Tigers (from Saskatoon)
12. Calgary Hitmen
13. Brandon Wheat Kings
14. Winnipeg Ice
15. Prince Albert Raiders
16. Lethbridge Hurricanes
17. Prince George Cougars (from Medicine Hat)
18. Spokane Chiefs
19. Kamloops Blazers
20. Edmonton Oil Kings
21. Swift Current Broncos (from Everett Silvertips)
22. Prince George Cougars (from Portland Winterhawks)

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This is season two of Hartley’s Cat-Scan, a weekly podcast show that primarily features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest on the 28th and final Cat-Scan in year two is Cougars head coach and GM Mark Lamb.

Lamb talks about the abrupt end to the WHL season, what lies ahead for the Cougars as well as how he and his league counterparts are operating during the coronavirus pandemic.


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:   

I was watching TV tonight and it was nothing but disease, viruses, quarantines — and that was the sports news.

*Comedy writer Brad Dickson

 

No members of the Houston Astros have been infected by the Corona Virus. Of course, they saw the signs coming before anyone else.

*Ross Porter on twitter @therossporter

 

The new March Madness: grocery-store shopping. 

*Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun

 

Many sports networks are airing their team’s archived “classic” games with everything on hold.  And of course, only the New York Mets could screw things up.  I was just watching SNY, and Buckner fielded the ball cleanly.

*Contributor Marc Ragovin

 

Now that Tom Brady is gone, people are wondering how Bill Belichick will handle it if it proves to be that it was the surrounding talent and not his coaching that made the Patriots. To that end, he is keeping Barry Switzer on speed dial.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

 

Quarterback Philip Rivers signed a one-year $25 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts. Guess he needed it, with nine kids Rivers and his wife needs two houses to comply with restrictions on gatherings over 10 people.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

 

Ahead of their time when it came to social distancing: Secretariat … Iditarod mushers … Marlins fans

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Two surprising discoveries in a recent survey of Bhutan:  
a) 90 per cent of its people said they are happy;  
b) The other 10 per cent said they are Knicks fans.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

 

Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca