Connor Bedard excited to suit up with Pats as youngest player in WHL

Connor Bedard is seen in this undated handout photo. There won't be any surprises when it's time for the Regina Pats to officially announce the No. 1 selection at the 2020 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. Regina general manager John Paddock has made it clear that come Wednesday when it's his turn to make a pick he is going with forward Connor Bedard, the first player to ever be awarded exceptional player status for the WHL. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Canadian Sport School Hockey League *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Is there another Lind in the Kelowna Rockets’ future?

The Rockets will select eighth overall in the WHL bantam draft today, with top scout Lorne Frey saying the club is leaning toward choosing a forward.

“There’s a lot of good players in this draft; the first 20 to 30 kids are really good,” said Frey. “We’re going to take who we think is the best player; we always do. In all fairness, though, we might be leaning towards a forward.”

The WHL is to conduct its bantam draft beginning at 9 a.m. PT. Results will be available at WHL.ca/draft.

According to hockey bloggers, the Rockets could select Kalan Lind, younger brother of former Rocket forward Kole.

Kalan Lind scored 68 goals and 52 assists in 27 games this season with the Swift Current Broncos of the Saskatchewan double-A bantam league. He also had 90 PIMs.

Kole Lind scored 14 goals and 30 assists in 61 games this past season for the AHL’s Utica Comets. He was a go-to forward with the Rockets from 2015-18 when he racked up 224 points in 204 WHL games. The Vancouver Canucks selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft.

If Kelowna opts for someone with less fire, they may take Matthew Wood of West Vancouver Academy. He had 71 points (40G, 31A) in 30 games this season, and just six PIMs. From Nanaimo, Wood was his league’s most sportsmanlike player this season.

It will be the final draft for Frey as Kelowna’s assistant general manager/director of player personnel, and his 29th since joining the franchise in 1991. Frey announced Monday he’s moving into a senior adviser position with the organization and returning home to Swift Current, Sask., to be closer to family.

Frey, 70, has headed every Rockets draft since the team’s inception. 

The Rockets have twice before selected eighth overall, drafting Kiel McLeod in 1997 and Scott Hannan in 1995.

The Rockets did not pick in the first round last year, making a pair of trades in the first round. They moved the fifth pick to the Brandon Wheat Kings in exchange for Sean Comrie's rights and the 10th pick.

Kelowna then flipped the 10th pick along with Conner Bruggen-Cate, the Rockets second-round pick in 2021 and first-round pick in 2022 to Seattle for forward Dillon Hamaliuk, defenceman Jake Lee and goalie Cole Schwebius.

This year's draft, which consists of 2005 born players, is regarded as one of the deepest drafts in recent years.

The Rockets are set to make 14 picks this year, including selections in the first (8th overall), second (30th) and third (49th) rounds.

Kelowna picks in 2020:

Round one, 8th overall

Round two, 30th overall

Round three, 49th overall

Round six, 115th overall

Round six, 118th overall

Round seven 137th overall

Round seven, 140th overall

Round eight, 159th overall

Round nine, 184th overall

Round eleven, 228th overall

Round twelve, 250th overall

Round thirteen, 272nd overall

Round fourteen, 294th overall

Round fifteen, 316th overall