WHL Next Generation is a 22-part series highlighting a handful of the future stars of the Western Hockey League. From first-round bantam draft picks to later-blooming selections, get to know the names of players set to establish themselves as the newest crop of exciting talent to grace the WHL. From August 1 through September 11, get the inside scoop on the incoming crew of 16-year-olds.
Brayden Tracey was the talk of the junior hockey world after Hockey Canada’s U17 Development Camp last month.
The Moose Jaw Warriors prospect’s four goal performance at the weekend-long intra-squad tournament turned a few heads, especially with Warriors Training Camp right around the corner.
“It’s obviously great. It gets me a little bit more comfortable with who I’m playing with and what’s around me,” said the 16-year-old, who is looking to break into the Warriors’ lineup full time this season.
“It’s not all just me, it’s also my teammates who helped me out, so I’m sure it gave them lots of confidence as well.”
While the Calgary product was pleased with his offensive production at the camp, he said he was more excited to have the opportunity to don the maple leaf crest.
“It’s just very exciting to put that logo on your chest and play, no matter if you play good or play bad, you know, it’s a good experience.”
This isn’t the first time Tracey has exploded offensively during a short best-on-best tournament.
In April 2016, the 6-foot-0, 160-pound centre posted a whopping 10 points (8 goals, 2 assists) in 4 games with Calgary North at the 2016 Alberta Cup.
That performance was the final touch on a fantastic second year of Bantam hockey that saw him notch 61 points (36 goals, 25 assists) in 33 games with the Calgary Northstar AAA Sabres.
It was also enough to catch the eye of the Warriors, who took him in the first round, 21st overall at the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
“It’s been my goal ever since I was a little kid. Since Atom or Peewee, I always wanted to get drafted,” Tracey said.
Just a couple of months after that, the smooth-skating young scorer had the chance to fulfill another dream: to play in the WHL.
Although Tracey didn’t get the chance to play in any regular season games with the Warriors last year, he did get to suit up for three WHL preseason contests.
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) 31 May 2016
“Putting that logo on – I had an amazing experience – I can’t even explain it,” Tracey said, adding that playing in the WHL was a big step up from Bantam hockey.
“It was nerve wracking the first couple of shifts when I was out there, but you get used to it and you’ve just got to play your game,” he said. “Whatever role they give you, you’ve just got to be happy with.”
After spending training camp with the Warriors, Tracey returned to Calgary for his first year of Midget hockey with the Calgary AAA Northstars.
Although the self-described offensively minded forward wasn’t quite able to repeat his eye-popping numbers from his second year of Bantam, he was able to post a solid 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists) in 28 AMHL games.
“We practiced six times a week, five times a week, so I think I got a lot out of it this year,” Tracey said. “I learned some new stuff and definitely got a bit better with my skating as this year went on as well.”
Now, as he prepares to take the ice for Warriors training camp, Tracey said he’ll be looking to show the coaching staff that he can do much more than just score goals.
“I think just show them I can play a 200-foot game. Obviously, I like offense but I’m not just an offensive guy, I can play defense too. I’ve just got to show them what I can do,” he said. “Obviously having that experience last year helps me a lot, so I can come with that experience and hopefully show them I’ve got what it takes.”
Tracey and the Warriors kick off the 2017 WHL Pre-Season on Aug. 29 when they play host to the Swift Current Broncos at Mosaic Place. Puck drop on that game is at 7 p.m. MDT.