The Nanaimo Timbermen had a lot of high draft picks again this year and were able to bring some better balance to the roster.
Nanaimo selected left-handed transition player Drew Belgrave with the third-overall pick in Wednesday’s WLA Draft, part of a strategy to target team needs.
“We’re really short lefty offence and defence so that was a focus for us in the draft,” said Chris Bowman, Timbermen president.
Nanaimo chose 12 players in all and most of those came in the early rounds, as the T-men had eight selections during the first four rounds.
Belgrave, from New Westminster, plays in the NLL with the Toronto Rock and Bowman said the T-men like “the speed and intensity he plays the game at … The kid’s lightning quick, so I think he just adds a huge dimension to our back end. We want to run and gun and push that ball and we’re going to be able to do that with him.”
Nanaimo had three consecutive second-round selections and chose forward Keenan Koswin, defender Gord Philips and forward Baden Boyenko.
Bowman said the T-men had considered trading up for Koswin and were excited to get him at 10th overall.
“He’s fast, he’s got amazingly quick hands, great body. He finishes inside, he’s got an amazing quick stick in the crease on the power play,” said the T-men president.
Philips is a versatile player who runs out the back door but scores in transition and is also a “brilliant draw guy,” Bowman said.
“A really good defender. One of those guys who has a motor that never quits.”
Boyenko was a high scorer at the junior level and the T-men especially like his great vision and see him as a power-play quarterback. He’s coming off a serious knee injury, but is progressing well, Bowman said.
In the third round, the T-men took 6-foot-5 Brad Rowbotham, a guy who played offence in junior but might take on more of a transition role at the next level; and Ryan Sinkie, a stay-at-home defender.
In the fourth round they added Kevin Orleman, a goalie they think could compete for a starter’s job down the road; and local player Cody Clark, former captain of the junior A Nanaimo Timbermen.
Other selections were Jake Bye, Chase Anderson, Nick Preston and Cody Graden. Anderson is from Nanaimo.
Before the draft started, the T-men traded for goaltender Charles Claxton. In exchange for Claxton, Nanaimo sent a third-round draft selection to the Langley Thunder.