By Scott Billeck
Colt Conrad of the Pembina Valley Hawks AAA Midget team has been taken in the 6th round of the United States Hockey League’s 2013 Draft by the Fargo Force.
The product of St. Alphonse played for the Pembina Valley Hawks of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League this past season, recording 32 goals and 88 points in just 48 games. In 39 regular season games, Conrad tied for the league lead in points with 67.
Conrad is not unfamiliar with interest from high profile junior clubs however. Just a year ago the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League took him in the 3rd round of the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.
Conrad was highly sought after by the Fargo Force and his high draft position doesn’t even reflect his potential.
“He has a really high skill set,” says Jesse Davis, assistant coach of the Force. “In our league we are only allowed four imports, which is four none U.S. born players, so a guy we are going to bring in is going to have to be a big time player for us and we feel he has that when he is ready to come to our league. He’s got a good scoring touch and a good leader on and off the ice, a great kid!”
This doesn’t come as a surprise to Rob Smith, who coached Conrad this past season at Pembina Valley.
“As a 15-year-old, he was what we liked to call a 200-foot centre man,” says Smith. “It’s been a long time since I have seen player with that vision, those puck skills. He is an excellent skater, and on top of that he can really rip the puck, a real complete player.”
Smith has no problem comparing Conrad to current NHL star Jordan Eberle.
“When I saw him at the start of the year, his puck skill, he reminded me of a player like Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers,” explains Smith.
Conrad has some big decisions to make.
“There are four or five Division 1 colleges looking to commit to Colt,” says Smith. “There has been a lot of interest shown by [former NHL head coach] Andy Murray down at Western Michigan. But the sky is the limit for him; he went pretty high in the WHL draft as well.”
Conrad himself is evaluating all of his options regarding his future at the junior-level.
“I was excited to hear I was drafted by Fargo,” says Conrad. “I am still undecided though.”
The USHL Draft takes place in two phases. In Phase One teams draft “future”– players who are under 17 years of age for the next season. In Phase Two teams draft any player that is of junior eligibility and is not protected by another USHL team.
The USHL boasts many high-calibre alumni including Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets, Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks, and Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres.
Canadians taken in Phase 1 of the USHL Draft:
Benjamin Blacker – Oakville, Ont.
Cameron Lee – Ferguson’s Cove, N.S.
Callum Booth – Montreal, Que.
Jackson Keane – Winnipeg, Man.
Gabriel Fontaine – Sherbrooke, Que.
Leif Hertz – Kingston, Ont.
Kris Myllari – Kanata, Ont.
Zach Grzelewski – Thunder Bay, Ont.
Nicolas Welsh – Halifax, N.S.
Derek Hamelin – Mercier, Que.