2023-24 Season Preview – Brandon Wheat Kings
The Brandon Wheat Kings head into the 2023-24 WHL season with an enviable returning core that features three NHL prospects and a pair of gold-medal performers at last month’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup. This winter, head coach and general manager Marty Murray begins his first full season at the helm of the WHL Club for whom he played, as he and his charges look to bring WHL playoff hockey back to the Wheat City next spring.
Forwards Nate Danielson and Brett Hyland both heard their names called during the 2023 NHL Draft along with starting netminder Carson Bjarnason. Danielson, a co-captain a season ago, led Brandon in scoring in 2022-23 with 78 points before being selected ninth-overall by the Detroit Red Wings. Hyland finished third among Wheat Kings goal-getters with 26 last season despite missing 26 regular season contests, while Bjarnason put up a .900 save percentage and three shutouts over his 47 appearances between the pipes last winter.
Who’s In And Out
Two of the Wheat Kings’ top three scorers from 2022-23 have graduated from the WHL, with co-captain Nolan Ritchie and forward Calder Anderson both moving on to professional hockey in Europe. Brandon fans, though, should be excited about a new influx of talent including 16-year-old forward Joby Baumuller, who scored twice as a call-up for the Wheat Kings a season ago. Czech import Dominik Petr has landed in Brandon and is ready to embark on his first season of hockey in North America. Petr played at the U18 and U20 levels in Finland a season ago, also adding four points in five games for Czechia at the IIHF U18 World Championship.
NHL Draft Prospects
Second-year defenceman Charlie Elick headlines Brandon’s list of NHL Draft-eligible players this season. The Calgarian skated in 56 contests as a 16-year-old in 2022-23 and this past summer helped Canada win gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup overseas alongside teammate, and 2025 NHL Draft prospect Roger McQueen. Forward Caleb Hadland was limited to 38 contests a season ago, but scored five of his seven points last season in the month of March.
WHEAT KINGS BY THE NUMBERS (2022-23):
Team Record: 26-33-8-1 (61 points)
Division Ranking: 5th, East
2023 WHL Playoffs: did not qualify
Goals For: 212 (15th)
Goals Against: 242 (T-14th)
PP (Overall): 21.1% (13th)
PK (Overall): 78.4% (11th)
Leading Scorers: Danielson (33-45-78), Ritchie (27-43-70), Anderson (16-34-50)
Leading Rookie: McQueen (4-10-14)
NHL Draft: Bjarnason (PHI – 2023), Danielson (DET – 2023), Hyland (WSH – 2023)