By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Not since Quinton Howden in 2007 had a Manitoban been taken first overall in the Western Hockey League’s Bantam Draft. That was until Thursday morning.
Winnipeg Monarchs’ star, Stelio Mattheos, was selected by Brandon Wheat Kings first overall this morning in Calgary. The 6-foot-2, 176-pound Mattheos was neck-and-neck with Vancouver’s Jordy Bellerive for the top bantam aged player coming into the draft.
“This is a tremendously exciting day for our hockey club and fans,” says Wheat Kings general manager and head coach Kelly McCrimmon. “Stelio is big, strong and skilled and a very powerful skater. As well, he has tremendous character.
“Joining some other top young players in our organization, we expect he will be an impact player. We are pleased to welcome Stelio to the Wheat Kings organization and look forward to watching him develop in Brandon. He will be a very good player for us.”
The Wheat Kings, who obtained the pick via trade from the Saskatoon Blades back in 2012 in a deal that sent veteran winger Brenden Walker to Saskatchewan in exchange for picks and the right to swap first round picks in Thursday’s draft. The Blades finished dead last in the WHL last season, giving Brandon little reason not to make the swap.
Mattheos, 14, was exceptional this past season for the Monarchs, posting a league-leading 103 points in just 32 games played. His 51 goals, 53 assists, and 1.66 goals-per-game also led the league, as did his 3.22 points-per-game.
Mattheos, who stands at 6-foot-2, credits his training regiment for elevating his game over the past few years. During the season, he trains five days a week alone at the The Rink and doubles up two of those days with training at Strive-United Therapies.
“He is a complete player, which is hard to see at the Bantam age,” said Dave Cameron, who trains Mattheos at The Rink. “He skates well, he’s physical, and he has very good skill as far as his hands and shooting ability. He can cover a lot of ice quickly.
“The best part for me is that he wants to get better. He has an attitude in which he simply wants to be the best player. He wants to continue and improve and that is what really sets him apart from a lot of players I see.”
“Training has been huge for me,” added Mattheos. “It has really helped me to elevate my game to the next level.”
Mattheos goals are obvious: He wants to play in the National Hockey League.
“I want to become the best player that I can be.”
He will have a heck of a shot at obtaining his goals and he will do it beside two other highly-touted prospects from Manitoba in Nolan Patrick and Tanner Kaspick, both of whom were selected by the Wheat Kings in last year’s draft.