When I went to watch the visiting Kelowna Rockets play the Vancouver Giants during the 2007-08 WHL season, I was excited at the opportunity to see two of the top draft-eligible defensemen for 2008 Tyler Myers and Luke Schenn. It was impossible to miss either of them on the ice Myers, a 6-7 behemoth, controlled the play with his rangy skating and incredible wingspan. Schenn was a physical specimen who made forwards think twice of dumping it in to his corner. However, I left the game that night with one Kelowna Rocket fresh in my memory, and it wasnt either of the defensemen. Number 14 dominated with his size, skill, and offensive instincts.
I asked a question that night that was likely repeated by many amateur scouts that season:
Who the heck is Jamie Benn?
The Kelowna Rockets have been a defenseman-developing factory for the past decade Shea Weber, Josh Gorges, Duncan Keith, Luke Schenn, and Tyler Myers, among others, have all suited up on the blue line for the Rockets. In 2007-08, the Rockets defense was a scouts dream Schenn (5th overall in 2008), Myers (12th overall in 2008), and Tyson Barrie (64th overall in 2009) were all fixtures on the back end.
Scouts would eagerly flock to see Myers and Schenn, but it was Benn who was the one to watch. These scouts would leave games disappointed upon finding out that this unknown scoring sensation had already been drafted.