Photo Credit: Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald.
While the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League may be managing to pilfer themselves a couple more wins than usual this year, with the highly talented Ryder Ritchie leading the way, it should be known that they may have just landed themselves one of the next great defenders of our time. This player is so good that, statically, when his time in Prince Albert is all said and done, he may not only find himself having surpassed the likes of former Raiders blueliners Kaiden Guhle and Josh Morrissey but one day could see his number raised to the rafters of the Art Hauser Centre alongside Dave Mason’s number four, Mike Modano’s number nine, and Dan Hodgson’s number sixteen.
Who is this player, and why do I feel so confident in his future success, you might be asking? Well, his name is Daxon Rudolph, and he is a 15-year-old right-hand shot, offensive defenseman who was recently taken by the Raiders number one overall in the 2023 WHL Prospect Draft.
While some may question why a team would ever take a defenseman with the first overall pick, I assure you this one was no mistake, for Daxon is a human highlight reel. Whether he is launching water bottle rockets with one of his twisted wristers coming in from the point, feathering a pass through an opponent’s legs to an awaiting teammate’s stick blade, or simply annihilating an oblivious adversary who chose so foolishly to try to cross over his blueline with their head down, Rudolph can simply do it all. This was made evident by his efforts last season while playing for the Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 Prep Team of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL), wherein the regular season, Daxon was able to finish with 17 goals and 33 assists for 50 points in only 30 games played. But, although that 1.66 points per game average from a defender may have seemed impressive, Rudolph showed that he must have ice coursing through his veins because he somehow was able to elevate his game come playoff time, scoring five goals and seven assists for 12 points in only five games played; which mind you included Daxon scoring the overtime game-winner that bested the likes of Jarome Iginla’s son Joe and the rest of the RHA Kelowna to win them the CSSHL U15 Western Championship. But that’s not all. While you are still sitting there and trying to comprehend how a defender can average 2.40 points per game in the playoffs, let me also inform you that Rudolph was named an Alberta Cup All-Star and the CSSHL’s Top Defender last season.
That takes us to this year, where Daxon has been able to elevate his game once again, this time by dressing for Northern Alberta’s U18 Team. Through just five games played versus older and tougher competition this season, Rudolph has averaged 2.00 points per game, netting six goals and four assists for ten points.
With all this being said, while Daxon may not be due to be drafted by an NHL team until the 2026 Entry Draft, it should go without saying that you guys should keep a close on this young man, seeing that he will only get better from here.