The Brandon Wheat Kings finished third in their division in the 2021-22 season and showcased a young roster, with 15 draft-eligible players. Two have been listed on NHL Central Scouting’s final 2022 draft rankings. Here’s a more in-depth look at both of them:
ZAKHAR POLSHAKOV (2003)
Zakhar Polshakov isn’t flashy. Perhaps it’s the learning curve of a new language and culture or the pressure of finding a place on a team full of strangers, but the young Belarusian isn’t one to demand attention. Then again, he doesn’t need to—his work on the ice does that for him.
Drafted in the first round, 29th overall, in the 2021 CHL Import Draft, the 5-foot-10 center made an early impact with the Wheat Kings, scoring in his first two games. Unfortunately, he sustained an injury after the second goal that slowed his offensive pace, but he didn’t let that stop him. Once he returned, he impressed his coaches with his detail-oriented game and led the team in faceoff percentages.
Despite a season shortened by visa woes, injury, and COVID-19, he’s shown a humility and willingness to put in the work necessary. Steady, collected, and cool under pressure, he’s been repeatedly praised for his dependability and defence-minded play. If he can elevate his offensive play as well, he’s going to be an asset to any team that takes him.
RYLEN ROERSMA (2004)
Rylen Roersma is not the biggest player on the ice, but anyone who dismisses him for his size is making a mistake. The 17-year-old center is a sniper, with a wicked release and skating that’s impressive even in a league already full of incredible skaters. Drafted in the first round in 2019 by the Wheat Kings, he was put on the penalty kill unit in his WHL debut game and proved his coach’s trust was not misplaced by helping them to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg ICE.
He was the only Wheat King to play in all 74 regular season and playoff games in the 2021-22 season and has proven that not only can he score, he can also create scoring opportunities for others.
Roersma struggled with remaining consistent this year, but Wheat Kings general manager, Doug Gasper, has described him as, “… a really skilled offensive forward who I think at 18 is going to really take a big step for the club.”
Standing at 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 181 pounds, the Lethbridge native has a deceptive knack for being in the right place at the right time, and Wheat Kings head coach Don MacGillivray calls him a solid 200-foot player with a game similar to that of Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat. He’s going to be a steal for any NHL team needing a center with a high hockey IQ and the play to match.