A quartet of Swift Current Broncos were listed in the NHL Central Scouting mid-term rankings released on Tuesday.
Sophomore defenceman Dillon Heatherington is a top 50 prospect among North American skaters eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, earning a 44th overall ranking and placing 13th among WHL skaters. The 6’4”, 196-pound Calgarian also earns the distinction of being the 14th defenceman listed among all North American skaters.
Heatherington currently has three goals and 15 points along with tying for the team lead with a +13 plus/minus rating. During his rookie season in Bronco blue, Heatherington had two goals and 10 points and was the only Swift Current defenceman with plus rating in the plus/minus department with a +2.
Recently acquired Jay Merkley is ranked 111th on the North American skaters list. Merkley joined the Broncos on Jan. 7 from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for veteran forward Josh Derko and a third round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
On the season the 17-year-old has 16 goals and 25 points while appearing in 48 games. In four games with the Broncos he has a pair of goals and three points and a -2 plus/minus rating. In his rookie season with Lethbridge, the 5'11'', 187 lbs. centre had 12 goals and 23 points and a -17 plus/minus effort while appearing in 58 games.
Also cracking the list which ranks 214 North American skaters is Colby Cave, who has earned the 140th spot on the list. Cave has 12 goals and 26 points over the first 47 games of the season. In his rookie campaign in 2011-2012 the product of Battleford had six goals and 16 points and a -20 plus/minus ranking in 70 games.
All three Bronco prospects are former first round WHL Bantam draft selections. The Broncos took Heatherington 11th overall in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. Merkley was a third overall selection by Lethbridge in the 2010 Bantam Draft. Cave was taken in the 2009 WH Bantam Draft 13th overall by the Kootenay Ice.
Import goaltender Eetu Laurikainen has earned a 20th place ranking amongst North American goaltending prospects for his strong debut season in the WHL. Laurikainen, who turns 20 on Feb. 1, leads all first-year WHL goalies in a number of statistical categories, with a rookie best 2.55 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage, with 955 saves while appearing in 36 games with the Broncos.
The 6', 179 lb. goaltender represented his home country of Finland during the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, dressing as the back-up for three games but was not utilized in a game.
Laurikainen the only European draft eligible goaltender playing in North America who cracked the mid-term rankings, and is the eighth seeded WHL netminder on the list.