Labant selected in eighth round of WHL draft
Brayden Labant was sitting in his classroom at St. Paul Regional High School on Thursday afternoon, the day before his 15th birthday, when he hopped online and discovered some incredible news, he had been drafted to the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels.
“It was a pretty stressful week, well, until after I found out I got drafted today,” he said following the announcement that he was taken 163rd overall by the Rebels in the eighth round of the draft, adding his friends have all been very supportive.
“They were just encouraging, they were pretty happy too.”
Being drafted to the WHL is a big step towards Labant’s ultimate goal of cracking an NHL roster, and the 15-year-old on-ice phenom said he plans on doing everything he can to turn that next dream into a reality as well.
“Yeah, that would be pretty sweet,” Brayden said of the potential of reaching the NHL. “I’ll have to work my hardest every time I get the chance and just never give up.”
Brayden’s dad, Eugene, said that while it’s hard to know for sure if anyone truly has the potential to make the jump to professional hockey, he never questioned his son’s determination to succeed.
“I knew he always had the drive, but it’s tough to really know that there’s serious potential,” said Eugene. “We played a lot of teams, and we’ve seen a lot of kids in western Canada, and we always knew that he is very strong. Physically strong and mentally strong, he doesn’t quit.”
Brayden started playing hockey at the Clancy Richard Arena when he was five years old, and 10 years later he was selected in the eighth round of the WHL draft.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Brayden, adding he is very excited to have been drafted by the Rebels, as he feels they have a lot of potential in the WHL.
“They’re a pretty good team, a good organization. I’m excited to go . . . I just want to help the team win and hopefully go far.”
After leaving St. Paul Minor Hockey to play bantam hockey in Cold Lake in 2011-12, Brayden moved on to play with the Fort Saskatchewan Bantam Rangers for the past two seasons, putting up 15 goals, 14 assists and 61 penalty minutes in 32 games with the club this year. Brayden also had a short stint with the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers Minor Midgets, where he posted four assists in seven games.
As a result of his outstanding season performance, Brayden was invited to take part in the Alberta Cup as a member of the Northeast Zone, where he posted a goal and three assists in five games to help lead his team to a silver medal.
“It was a good experience,” he said of the Alberta Cup. “We lost out in the final game and got silver.”
Labant said he plans on adding some muscle during the offseason by working with a personal trainer and spending a lot of time at the gym. The 5’11’’, 178-pound forward added he hopes to improve on his foot speed over the summer to better his chances of making an impact with the Red Deer Rebels.
“I’ll be going to the gym and working with a personal trainer,” said Brayden.
Eugene added he is very proud of the accomplishments that Brayden has made in the game of hockey, and that while being drafted doesn’t guarantee ice time, he is confident that Brayden will carry on with the same level of determination that has brought him success thus far.
“He wanted to make the (WHL) and play in the (WHL). Now he’s finally drafted so he’s going to get an opportunity to try and make it there,” said Eugene. “Just because he’s drafted doesn’t mean he’s there yet, but he gets to go to the fall camp now . . . and as a 16-year-old next year, hopefully he’ll get the chance to play with them.”