Monday, May 08, 2006

OHL Draft Notes

Like the Quebec league draft, the OHL draft is becoming less of a "draft" and more of a recruitment process. A few of the top teams with ample resources are becoming confronted with more-aggressive players asserting their right to control their destination. While the fans of OHL teams picking early in the draft complain about the rigged process, and want OHL President David Branch to impose rules evening the playing field, it is clear that the OHL is not unhappy with this process. Any rules that would force players to declare for the OHL route -- and bar players who refused to declare for the OHL -- carries with it the risk that too many top players would opt out of the OHL. By allowing players to choose their ultimate destination, the OHL retains more top-end talent than they otherwise would. Hence, the OHL's inaction at curbing the rigged process.

Among the top-end players this year, Markham's Cody Hodgson rattled the NCAA sabre for the top teams, and rather than being a top-3 pick, dropped to a Toronto-area team, which is what he wanted. Look for him to sign with Brampton.

Steve Stamkos, another Markham center, also voiced some reluctance at the OHL, but Sarnia made a good financial deal with him prior to the draft, and he was selected first overall.

USA Under-17 Team center Philip McRae fell to the end of the first round, where he was picked by London. The Knights were thought to be the only potential OHL team to which he would report, because his father (former NHLer, Basil) is a part owner of the Knights. Again, it would seem to be a NCAA loss.

Another American, Zach Bogosian, had a spot on the USA Under-17 team, but his first round selection by the Peterborough Petes suggests he will go the OHL route.

Barrie took Brian Lashoff in the third round. His older brother, Matt, had made a college commitment to BU before his advisor, Bobby Orr, steered him to the Kitchener Rangers (and a first round selection by the Boston Bruins). I would guess that Brian, too, will go the OHL route, although as a tools player, he is less of a college prospect than his brother was.

Another American third rounder, Matt Zarbo, is a Rochester, NY native who spent part of the year with the Junior Bruins. A third round pick is more than a flier, and although Zarbo wasn't rated as a first rounder, Brampton must be pretty confident to have selected him at or before his real "value". (Zarbo's brother has committed to Sacred Heart).

Of the top rated Candian players, the only one who really fell to "flier" teritory was Toronto Marlie midget center Corey Trivino. Trivino reportedly is close to making an NCAA committment, and his later selection reinforces the notion that he will choose that route.

Kitchener took a surprise 6th round flier on Lake Superior State recruit Matt Martello. According to the Waterloo Record, Martello does not have a deal with the Rangers:
All the Rangers picks from Saturday were born in 1990, except for 1987-born Vaughan Vipers Jr. A centre Matt Martello. DeBoer said Martello, Kitchener's sixth-round pick, has a full U.S. college hockey scholarship to Lake Superior State, but will decide over the summer whether to go the NCAA route or come to Kitchener.

Kitchener has a history of taking NCAA-committed players, as a fall back should the college game not work out (Matt Auffrey, Victor Oreskovich being recent examples.)

Another OHL team known for taking college players is Owen Sound, and they selected Bowling Green bound Wayne Simmons in the sixth round. Simmonds really came on during his rookie Junior A season, and, having been undrafted in the 2004 and 2005 OHL drafts, was available for this draft.


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joseph burrell said...

I wish I could have had your ODL Draft notes by the time I was going to bet at hostpph, but thanks anyway