Thunderbirds sign 2015 first-round draft pick Elijah Brown

Jun 23, 2015, 4:07 PM | Updated: 4:09 pm

The Thunderbirds announced Monday afternoon that they had signed Elijah Brown, their first round pick, No. 15 overall, from the 2015 Bantam Draft to a standard WHL Player Agreement. After visiting the team over the past weekend, the Edmonton, Alberta, native didn’t take long to commit.

Brown had 41 points in 31 games with the Southside Athletic Club Lions Bantam AAA club last season, including 18 goals. A bit on the smaller side at 5 foot 7 and 150 pounds, the 15-year-old Brown is likely to add a few inches and pounds before he can join the Thunderbirds full-time as a 16 year old in 2016. As it stands, Brown was one of the top skaters in the draft, an area which has been a focus so far in the offseason with his selection and acquisition of forward Jamal Watson.

The quick signing of Brown, who was drafted in early May, should come as a welcome relief for the Thunderbirds. They’ve had to hold their breath with a number of their recent first round picks, including Dante Fabbro (2013), who remains unsigned, and Mathew Barzal (2012) and Jarret Tyszka (2014), both of whom waited approximately a year to sign. Ryan Gropp, who spent his entire 16-year-old season and part of his 17-year-old year in Penticton, joined the Thunderbirds a month into the 2013 season. Keegan Kolesar (2012) and Kaden Elder (2013) were two later first round picks who were quick to commit to the T-Birds.

Brown’s signing helps strengthen the middle for the Thunderbirds for the next few years. With Barzal, Scott Eansor, Alexander True and Elder all with at least two years of eligibility left, plus Lane Pederson and Donovan Neuls capable of playing center if necessary, Seattle’s depth is strong enough that Brown can be brought along slowly.

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