Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Luke Schenn, and Josh Gorges are some of the NHL’s most elite defenseman. They all have one thing in common: the Kelowna Rockets.
Kelowna has been a recent factory for blueliners. With a track record of success for the rugged Rockets, NHL scouts have kept a keen eye on the defensive WHL powerhouse. It is hard not to get excited and create buzz for the next potential star.
Madison Bowey fits the Kelowna mold carved out by the likes of Weber, Keith, Schenn, and Gorges. He is a powerful, two-way d-man with a high ceiling. Bowey’s athleticism is off the charts and is one of the 2013 draft class’s fastest risers.
A two-sport athlete growing up, Bowey found success with hockey and baseball. He played multiple positions, excelling on the mound and at the plate. The rising star led his baseball team to the national championship, never shying away from the spotlight. At just 14, Bower found himself with a life-changing decision. He could continue playing just one sport and decided hockey provided him with the greatest chance for professional success.
Lucky for Kelowna. The Rockets selected Bowey in the second round (23rd overall) in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft after the defenseman lit up the WCML with the Winnipeg Monarchs City midget team. As a 14-year-old Bowey scored 16 goals and finished the season with 69 points and 74 penalty minutes in just 29 games.
In his first taste of WHL action Bowey laced up the skates in four games for Kelowna, including one playoff contest. He spent the majority of the season with the Winnipeg Wild in the Manitoba Midget Hockey League. Playing at 15, the young defenseman displayed a calm demeanor and early glimpses of maturity with the Wild. In 41 regular season games the Winnipeg native scored 16 goals and finished with 38 points along with 35 penalty minutes. The Wild finished the year in bitter fashion, losing in the playoff semifinals. But for Bowey the season wasn’t over yet. He got his first taste of major tournament action playing for Team Manitoba in the 2011 Canada Winter Games. He scored two goals and finished with six points in six games.
In his first full season with Kelowna, Bowey entered with a formidable amount of hype despite playing most of the year as a 16-year-old. The WHL is rather unforgiving to greenhorns, especially on defense. The youngster developed quickly adjusting to the fast pace and physical nature of the league. Bowey finished the season with eight goals and 21 points in 57 regular season games. He added 39 penalty minutes and a plus-3 rating for the surging Rockets. Kelowna finished third in the B.C division, but drew the juggernaut Portland Winterhawks in the opening round of the playoffs. The rookie added a goal and four penalty minutes in his brief WHL playoff debut before the Rockets were swept by Portland.
Before breaking out the golf clubs, Bowey took the ice for Canada Western at the WHC-U17. In five games against elite prospects Bowey added one goal and six penalty minutes. After a full season in the WHL, Bowey was ready to return to the Rockets and help the rising power back to the league playoffs for a longer stay.
The smooth-skating 6’1” 201-pound defenseman had high expectations in his second season in the WHL. In 69 regular season games Bowey finished with 12 goals and 30 points for the B.C. division champions. He picked up his physicality and ferocious play, tallying 75 penalty minutes. The most impressive leap was in the plus/minus department. Bowey had a plus-41 rating in the regular season, displaying his growing awareness and sound defensive play.
Kelowna reached the second round of the playoffs in large part to Bowey and a strong defensive corp. Bowey was a slight disappointment on the scoresheet, finishing without a goal and just four assists in 11 playoff contests. Although the season’s ending leaves scouts desiring more offensive output from the 18-year-old, Bowey earned invaluable experience playing against the star-studded WHL teams.
Just like the following two seasons Bowey’s season did not end with the playoff defeat. In addition to playing in the CHL Top Prospects Game, Bowey skated for Team Canada’s U-18 squad in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament, earning his first taste of gold. He wasn’t done collecting gold medals either. As an assistant captain for Canada’s U-18 team in the U18 WJC Bowey helped his squad to gold with a plus-three rating and four points in seven games.
Bowey has been a highly touted prospect since he was drafted by Kelowna and hasn’t disappointed. The big-bodied defenseman is an excellent skater and is a reliable puck-mover coming out of his own zone. He makes a crisp outlet pass and can rush the puck with confidence when he sees an opportunity. Although his point total left some wanting more, Bowey is a well-rounded rearguard with the potential to be a solid two-way NHL defenseman.
The physical power has performed valiantly under the bright lights in the WHL and on the international stage with Canada’s top junior programs. Bowey was ranked 32nd amongst North American skaters in the CSS final rankings leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft. I listed Bowey as the 28th best prospect in my Top 30 list and slated him 29th overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets in my updated mock draft.