Import Aleksi Heponiemi was the first member of the Swift Current Broncos selected in the National Hockey League Draft Saturday. The 5’10’’, 149-pound forward was taken by the Florida Panthers in the second round, 40th overall, at the draft in Chicago Saturday.
Heponiemi was named the WHL Rookie of the Year after totaling 28 goals and 58 assists in 72 games this season to lead all rookies in points. The 5’10, Tampere, Finland native added eight assists in 14 playoff games.
Heponiemi becomes the third Broncos’ player to be drafted by the Florida Panthers, joining Matt Sommerfeld (2000), and Aaron MacDonald (1995).
Tyler Steenbergen followed in the fifth round when he was selected 128th overall by the Arizona Coyotes.
Steenbergen tied for the league lead with 51 goals in 72 games during a breakout campaign. He also tied for ninth with 90 points. He led the league with 19 power play goals and 12 game winning goals.
The Sylvan Lake product was every bit as good in the playoffs with eight goals and six assists in 14 post-season games against the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats.
Steenbergen, the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2013, broke into the WHL as a 16-year-old in 2014-15 when he registered five goals and 11 points in 72 games. He followed up with 20 goals and 46 points the following season before exploding this past season.