Nolan Bentham had the rare opportunity to play for his hometown Western Hockey League team. But that portion of his career turned out to be brief as the first-round WHL draft pick was shipped Thursday by the Victoria Royals to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
The six-foot-three blue-liner, out of the Racquet Club of Victoria, was selected 13th overall by the Royals in the 2018 U-15 draft. He did not play in the abbreviated 2021 B.C. Division bubble season in Kelowna and Kamloops. The Royals provided no reason for his absence. Bentham has a goal and three points in 52 career games with the Royals and played for Canada Black at the 2019 World U-17 Hockey Challenge and B.C. at the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
Victoria received a second-round selection in the 2024 WHL U-15 draft and seventh- and eighth-round picks in the 2022 draft. The Royals also received the playing rights to 17-year-old Chase LaPinta from Frisco, Texas, a five-foot-seven, 148-pound forward who had six goals and 12 points in 12 games for the Dallas Stars Elite U-16 AAA team during the 2020-21 season.
“This is a great opportunity for Nolan in Lethbridge,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price.
“This is a good hockey trade for both sides. We have a deep defensive corps.”
LaPinta was taken 164th overall by the Hurricanes in the eighth round of the 2019 WHL U-15 draft.
“He is a skilled centre,” said Price.
LaPinta’s WHL stock would have been much higher but he is committed to the Arizona State Sun Devils of the NCAA for 2023-24. Price knows how he will pitch the native of Wichita, Kansas, who was part of the USA U-15 program.
“The CHL and WHL [the WHL is one of three CHL member leagues] are the premier development leagues in the world. If you want to play in the NHL, this is the best place to be,” said Price.