Seattle Thunderbirds take left wing Ryan Gropp in WHL Bantam Draft first round

The Seattle Thunderbirds drafted left wing Ryan Gropp, of Kamloops, B.C., with their first-round pick Thursday in the Western Hockey League draft. - COURTESY PHOTO
The Seattle Thunderbirds drafted left wing Ryan Gropp, of Kamloops, B.C., with their first-round pick Thursday in the Western Hockey League draft.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

The Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey team selected left wing Ryan Gropp from Kamloops, British Columbia, with their first round pick, sixth overall, in the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft Thursday at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Alberta.

Gropp, 14, is 6 feet 2 inches tall and 150 pounds. He played with the Kamloops Bantam Tier 1 team this past season. Gropp played in 58 games and had 62 goals and 66 assists for 128 points with 85 penalty minutes. Gropp is a left-hand shot.

"We are excited to add Ryan because he is potentially a very high offensive producer with both size and top-end skating ability," said T-Birds general manager Russ Farwell in a team media release.

Players born in 1996 were eligible for the draft.

The T-Birds made nine selections in the 2011 Bantam Draft. They selected four defenseman, two right wings, one goalie, one left wing and one left wing/center.

The T-Birds selected defenseman Austin Douglas from Winnipeg, Manitoba, with their second round pick, 27th overall.

Douglas, a 6-5, 195-pound right-hand shot, played 25 games with the Winnipeg Warriors Bantam AAA team this past season. He had three goals and four assists with 53 penalty minutes.

"Austin is a good skater with great size, tremendous potential and great attitude," said Farwell. "He makes a good first pass and has good puck skills."

In the third round, with the 49th overall selection, the T-Birds took right wing Michal Holub from Mission, B.C. Holub is 6-0 and 168 pounds and played for the Mission Bantam Tier 1 team last season.

"Michal is a power forward who is very effective down low," said Farwell. "He is strong on the puck and has the potential to be very good and very big."

The T-Birds did a bit of shuffling of picks in the fourth round. They sent their original fourth-round selection to the Saskatoon Blades at the beginning of last season for Travis Toomey. They then acquired the Medicine Hat Tigers fourth-round pick for defenseman Scott Ramsay in the beginning of last season.

With the 84th overall pick, the T-Birds selected forward Carter Folk form Regina, Saskatchewan. Folk, a left-hand shot is 5-11 and 160 pounds and played 21 games last year with the Regina Senators Bantam AA team. He played both center and left wing and had 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points with 86 penalty minutes.

"Carter is a gritty, very competitive player who always finishes his checks. He always sets the tempo of the games he is in," said Farwell.

The T-Birds did not have a fifth or sixth round pick in the 2011 Bantam Draft. The T-Birds traded their fifth round pick to the Calgary Hitmen for defenseman Erik Bonsor in December 2009. The sixth round pick was traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for defenseman Austin Baecker in February 2010.

In the seventh round, 143rd overall, the T-Birds selected goalie Nolan Kruizenga from Leduc, Alberta. Kruizenga is 6-1 and 150 pounds and played with the Leduc Major Bantams last season. He had a 11-6 record with a 3.47 goals against average and a .897 save percentage.

"Nolan is already 6'1 with very good agility," said Farwell. "He was the most valuable goalie at the Medicine Hat Bantam tournament."

Seattle selected defenseman Reid Fritzke, from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, in the eighth round with the 159th overall selection. Fritzke, a left-hand shot, is 5-11 and 170 pounds and played 17 games with the Swift Current Bantam AA team this past season. He had two goals and five assists for seven point with 34 penalty minutes.

"Reid was the captain of his bantam team that lost in the provincial final in Saskatchewan," Farwell said. "He is a hard working, stay-at-home defenseman with good upside and potential to grow."

The T-Birds ninth round selection, 181st overall, was right wing Jordan Ross from Kronau, Saskatchewan. Ross is 5-10 and 155 pounds and a right-hand shot. He appeared in 22 games for the Balgonie Prairie Bantam AA team last season and had 43 points on 20 goals and 23 assists with 25 penalty minutes.

"Jordan was hurt for part of the year but still scored 20 goals in 22 games," said Farwell. "He also scored 22 points in 14 playoff games as part of a real strong playoff team. He has a high skill level and improved his play all year."

The T-Birds made a selection in the 10th round of the draft, taking defenseman Kevin Wolf with the 203rd overall pick. Wolf, from Cuomo, Minn., is a 6-4, 180-pound left-hand shot. He played 31 games with the Chicago Fury Major Bantam team last season and had a single assist and 35 penalty minutes.

"Kevin is a high end talent that we will try and recruit," said Farwell. "He is a top prospect in Minnesota with very high potential."

In the 11th round the T-Birds took defenseman Mark Nelson from Morden, Manitoba. Nelson, at 6-4 and 175 pounds, played for the Morden Hawks Bantam AA team and is a left-hand shot.

"Mark is a raw defenseman with great size and a real potential to get better," said Farwell. "He has a good attitude and strong work ethic."

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