Red Deer Rebels coach Jesse Wallin would need to think back 16 years to recall the caliber of draft-eligible talent available on defense from the Western Hockey League this season.
"The last time we had this many defensemen coming out in the draft was 1996 … my own draft year," Wallin told NHL.com. "But I think this crop is at a much higher caliber than it was in 1996. It's pretty special that we have this many top-end defensemen that are in the league and certainly there will be some fun guys to watch this year."
Eight WHL blueliners were chosen in the first three rounds of the 1996 Entry Draft, including six first-round picks. Wallin, a defenseman for Red Deer, was the final choice in the first round, going 26th to the Detroit Red Wings. Ottawa selected defenseman Chris Phillips of the Prince Albert Raiders with the first pick.