Cougars Select 11 Players in 2023 WHL Prospects Draft

PRINCE GEORGE BC – The 2023 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft was held virtually on Thursday and the Prince George Cougars drafted 11 players over eight rounds.

The Cougars selected five forwards, five defencemen, and one goaltender with their 11 selections. Players eligible for the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft are 2008-born and are eligible to play in the WHL starting in the 2024-25 season.

“We are quite satisfied with how things went,” commented Bob Simmonds, Cougars’ Director of Scouting. “We managed to get several guys we targeted and who were projected at certain spots. We believe we checked every box, we added skill, skating, and scoring so we are really looking forward to seeing all these guys at camp in the fall.”

Draft Recap

 Round 1 (15th Overall) – D Carson Carels

 With their first pick in the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft, the Cougars selected Carson Carels out of Cypress River, MB. Carels played for the Pilot Mound Academy U15 club and posted some impressive numbers. The 5’11”, 160-pound blue-liner scored 10 goals and amassed 22 assists in 32 games. Carels put together an impressive stat line in 4 playoff games, owning three goals and nine assists. He also posted 4 points in 5 games with Pilot Mound’s U17 team, three of which were playoff games.

“Carson put his team on his back on numerous evenings (with Pilot Mound Academy), leading his team to tight wins, and you can just tell his character and leadership was oozing off of him,” said Cougars’ Director of Scouting Bob Simmonds. “As a defenceman, I would classify Carson as a solid two-way guy. He can defend well, he plays hard below the dots, and he’s able to activate. He knows our team likes to score off the rush and in transition and he knows his game is tailor made for that style.”

Round 2 (37th Overall) – F Kayden Lemire

 The Cougars’ second pick of the 2023 WHL Prospect’s Draft was 6’3” forward Kayden Lemire from Edmonton, Alberta. Lemire spent the 2022-23 season with the OHA Edmonton U15 program and put up incredible numbers. Lemire, a right-handed shot, scored 28 times and added 35 assists in only 27 games played.

Round 2 (43rd Overall) – D Dermot Johnston

 Prince George went back to the blue-line with their second pick of the second round, selecting Dermot Johnston. Johnston, from Olds, AB, played for the Red Deer Rebels U15 AAA program. The 6’2” defender posted 16 points in 26 games this season. Johnston suited up in five playoff games with the Rebels and collected three points.

Round 2 (44th Overall) – F Townes Kozicky

The Cougars third and final pick in the second round was Calgary, AB product and forward Townes Kozicky. Kozkicky, a right-handed shot, had a tremendous season with the Calgary Bisons U15 program, owning 23 goals and 37 assists in 34 games played. In 5 Provincial Championship games, the 5’7” 130 pound forward dazzled with seven goals and three assists.

Round 3 (63rd Overall) – F Patrick Sopiarz

 In the third round, Prince George went back up to the forwards and selected Patrick Sopiarz from the OHA Edmonton U15 Program. In 25 games with OHA Edmonton U15, the 6’0” 182 pound forward scored 22 times and amassed 24 assists. Sopiarz was teammates with Cougars 2nd round selection Kayden Lemire and was the captain of his team at OHA Edmonton.

Round 5 (103rd Overall) – F Ethan Hamilton

 In the fifth round, the Cougars picked up forward Ethan Hamilton from the Humboldt Broncos U15 AA club. The Lanigan, SK product put up 27 points in 21 games this season in Humboldt (14G-13A). In the post-season, Hamilton lit the lamp for the Broncos, scoring five times in six games, on route to a league championship. Hamilton comes in at 5’9” and 144 pounds.

Round 6 (125th Overall) – D Logan Jugnauth

In the sixth round, the Cougars went back to the blue-line and picked Kelowna product Logan Jugnauth from the Okanagan Rockets U15 program. The 6’2” defenceman played 30 games with the Okanagan Rockets U15 club and collected 12 points in that span. Jugnauth’s oldest brother Tyson is a 2022 draft pick of the Seattle Kraken.

Round 7 (140th Overall) –  F Emile Plourde

 In the seventh round, Prince George used their first of three selections to add to their forward core. Their first pick was used to nab forward Emile Plourde from the Sherwood Park U15 AAA Flyers. The Sherwood Park, AB product had 53 points (27G-26A) in 31 games played this season. Plourde is 5’10” and 160 pounds.

Round 7 (147th Overall) – G Luke Norman

Luke Norman is the newest addition to the Cougars’ goaltending depth chart. The product of Saskatoon, SK played for his hometown Saskatoon Generals U15 club. Norman slots in at 6’3” and 180 pounds. In 14 games, Norman posted an 8-4-1 record, along with a 2.97 goals against average and a .899 save percentage.

Round 7 (154th Overall) – D Eli Johnson

The Cougars selected another rearguard with the 154th pick in the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft in Eli Johnson. Johnson, from Regina, played for the Regina Aces U15 squad. The 5’9” and 164-pound defenceman led all blue liners on his team in numbers with 13 goals and 29 assists in 29 games.

Round 8 (169th Overall) – D Ryan Pedersen

The Cougars used their final pick of the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft to select defenceman Ryan Pedersen. The product of Rocky View, AB played U15 Prep for the Notre Dame Hounds. Pedersen played 18 games with Notre Dame and collected 14 points (6G-8A) in that span. Pederson is 5’10” tall and 192 pounds.

The Cougars selected six players from Alberta, three from Saskatchewan, one from Manitoba, and one from British Columbia. For a complete list of the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft, visit


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