Swift Current Broncos defenceman Owen Pickering was selected in the first round, 21st overall, by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal on Thursday.

The St. Adolphe, MB, product scored nine goals and 33 points in his first full season with the Broncos in 2021-22, and was named the Rookie of the Year for the WHL's Central Division. He was also named to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in March and represented Canada at the World U18 Hockey Championship in Germany, where he recorded two assists in four games and was named one of Canada's top three players at the tournament.

Pickering was listed as a C-ranked prospect by NHL Central Scouting at the start of the season, but his strong play with the Broncos helped his stock rise, and he finished the year ranked 15th among North American skaters.

Pickering is the 75th player to be drafted out of Swift Current, and the first Bronco to be selected by the Penguins. He's also the eighth Bronco to be drafted in the first round, and the first since Jake DeBrusk was picked by the Boston Bruins 14th overall in 2015.

Rounds two through seven of the draft will take place Friday morning where other listed Broncos prospects including Josh Davies, Josh Filmon, Connor Hvidston, Mathew Ward, Rayan Bettahar and Reid Dyck could be selected.

Sakic wins GM of the Year award

Also at the draft, the NHL presented the Jim Gregory Award for General Manager of the Year to Broncos alum Joe Sakic, who guided the Colorado Avalanche to their third Stanley Cup this past season.

Sakic, who celebrated his 53rd birthday on Thursday, was selected 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, and has stayed with the Quebec/Colorado franchise ever since, winning two Stanley Cups as team captain in 1996 and 2001.

Pickering met with reporters after he was drafted on Thursday night: