The NHL Draft was held this past weekend in Philadelphia, and the OHL was at the top of the draft board once again. The OHL has produced the top pick every other season since 2010, and after Sean Monahan was highest off the board at sixth last year, Aaron Ekblad brought Ontario’s finest back to the top this year.
Overall, 41 OHLers were selected in this year’s draft, with 10 of those going in the first round. After that, nine went in the second round, six in the third, four in the fourth, eight in the sixth, and four in the seventh. Let’s take a look at how each of the 20 OHL clubs were represented once the final name was called on Saturday.
Barrie Colts: Aaron Ekblad (1/1 – Florida Panthers), Brendan Lemieux (2/31 – Buffalo Sabres), Kevin Leblanc (6/171 – San Jose Sharks)
The Colts were one of six teams to see two players taken within the first 60 picks. They not only hold the honour of producing the first overall pick, but they also produced the first pick of the second round. If Ekblad plays the same way in his first game with Florida the way he did in his first with Barrie at 15 years old, then he won’t necessarily be spectacular, but he won’t look out of place (which is impressive in itself). He’ll adjust well. With the pick of Lemieux, the Sabres will be very tough to play against in the future. His play is extremely close to that of his father’s, which may be a reason so many people had him sneaking into the first round to New Jersey. Leblanc had a good first season for the Colts with 35 points in 65 games (7 in 11 in the playoffs), production similar to another Sharks pick during his draft year, Chris Tierney (34 points in 65 games in ’11/12).
Belleville Bulls: Jake Marchment (6/157 – Los Angeles Kings)
The highest Bull off the board last year was Jordan Subban (fourth round), but he wasn’t the only one. Jake Marchment was the only Bull selected in the NHL draft this year, and the Kings got the kind of size they covet (6’3″). Along with that, the Kings also got the kind of competitive fire that they like in their players, as well as a willingness to drop the gloves (word is they were also impressed at the timing of some of his fights). And if you’re curious, the last time the Bulls had one player selected in the draft was 2011 when Austen Brassard went in round five. Marchment was one of just two re-entry draftees out of the OHL this year.
Erie Otters: Kyle Pettit (6/156 – Vancouver Caucks)
Another team with just one player selected this year is the Erie Otters with the Canucks picking up Kyle Pettit. Pettit wasn’t in an enviable position this year: It’s one thing to play on a talented team and win games, but it’s another to try and showcase your talents in your draft year while on that same team. It’s a tough spot to be in. Pettit clearly showed enough of his hockey smarts, team-first mentality, and his ability to block shots and win face-offs to earn a look from the Canucks.
Guelph Storm: Robby Fabbri (1/21 – St. Louis Blues)
Another one-for in the draft, the Storm saw playoff MVP Robby Fabbri go in the first round to St. Louis. The Blues got a dynamic player that plays bigger than you’d read on the back of his hockey card, and still maintains his on-ice electricity. That makes back-to-back years that the Storm have produced first round picks, as he joins Dallas first rounder from 2013 Jason Dickinson.
Kingston Frontenacs: Sam Bennett (1/4 – Calgary Flames), Roland McKeown (2/50 – Los Angeles Kings), Spencer Watson (7/209 – Los Angeles Kings)
The three of them all went within the first 25 picks of the 2012 OHL Draft, and now all of them saw their NHL dreams come true in 2014. After Ekblad the thought was that the draft would come down to a battle of the Sams, and while Reinhart and Bennett ended up going second and fourth, it’s still what everyone expected. Bennett combined a high-energy style of play with top-end talent, and should combine with Sean Monahan to provide a strong 1-2 punch down the middle. McKeown provides a puck-moving presence from the back-end and smarts in all three zones, giving the Kings another multi-dimensional defender. Watson was overshadowed much of the year by the other two but still put up a 30-goal season, and could prove to be a steal for the Kings.
Kitchener Rangers: Ryan MacInnis (2/43 – Arizona Coyotes), Nick Magyar (4/93 – Colorado Avalanche)
A pair of first-year OHLers turned heads with the Rangers this year, and reaped the rewards on Saturday. Some viewed MacInnis as a first-round talent, but it didn’t quite pan out that way. Either way the Coyotes find themselves with a big centre who has good offensive instincts, but needs to work on some things including his skating. Magyar meanwhile, put up 20 goals in his first OHL season and has good size on the wing. The hard-working winger will fit in well on a team led by former Ranger and Avalanche Captain/First-rounder Gabe Landeskog.
London Knights: Christian Dvorak (2/58 – Arizona Coyotes), Chandler Yakimowicz (6/172 – St. Louis Blues)
The Knights became the first team since the Belleville Bulls to see three of their players picked in the first round last year, but this year they only saw two in total picked up on the weekend. The two of them got into 33 games each, although Dvorak’s circumstances can’t be helped much thanks to January ACL surgery. Dvorak is fast so the hope is that the surgery doesn’t hamper that in the future, and his draft slot didn’t seem too affected by the injury. Yakimowicz joined the team part-way through the season, but it’ll be his tenacity and ferociousness that probably had Blues’ brass falling in love and will make him a pain in the ‘O next year.
Mississauga Steelheads: No Players Selected in 2014 NHL Draft
Niagara IceDogs: Brendan Perlini (1/12 – Arizona Coyotes), Blake Siebenaler (3/77 – Columbus Blue Jackets), Brent Moran (4/115 – Dallas Stars), Aaron Haydon (6/154 – Dallas Stars)
Four IceDogs heard their name called on Draft weekend, with Brendan Perlini topping the class. Coming off of a 30-goal season, the Coyotes end up landing a player who was a bit of a wild card in the draft in the best way possible. With the size, speed, and natural abilities (and instincts) scouts love, Perlini was pegged as someone who could sneak into the top ten. Siebenaler has scored at every level and this year was no exception in his first OHL season (30 points in 68 games). With his size and skating ability he’ll be a fun one to watch the next couple of seasons. Dallas added two big-bodied IceDogs in Haydon and Moran. Goalies with a big frame can usually find a home in the draft (and scouts citing Moran’s quickness and technical abilities certainly helps his case), while Haydon gives Dallas another big blueline meanie from Niagara with potential.
North Bay Battalion: Kyle Wood (3/84 – Colorado Avalanche), Michael Amadio (3/90 – Los Angeles Kings)
The Kings seem to love the OHL pipeline. Not only do they have some pretty noteworthy OHL grads at the NHL level, but they plucked seven from the OHL during the draft. Along those lines, they likely love what they’ve found in Amadio, a two-way player who knows what to do and where to be in his own end of the ice. Wood meanwhile, brings a (likely) full-grown frame to the Avs at 6’4″ 225lbs (or bigger depending what you believe), and really began to grow in his roles as the season wore on.
Oshawa Generals: Michael Dal Colle (1/5 – New York Islanders), Hunter Smith (2/54 – Calgary Flames)
I’m no scout, nor did/do I pretend to be one on TV, but I’ve always loved Michael Dal Colle. Big frame, great attitude, and a guy that just couldn’t be stopped in his rookie OHL season. He earned first line minutes that year and just kept going, never shying away from a challenge. Dal Colle joins Gens alumni John Tavares and Calvin de Haan, as well as fellow first-round OHLer Ryan Strome. Smith is the second re-entry selection in the draft, overcoming a rough year last year that was wrecked by poor production and injuries. The Flames talked about how impressed they were with Smith’s ability to persevere and bounce back this year, and it’s always good to see a player like that get rewarded.
Ottawa 67’s: Alex Lintuniemi (2/60 – Los Angeles Kings), Jacob Middleton (7/210 – Los Angeles Kings)
Well the L.A. Kings strike again, with two of their OHL haul coming from Ottawa. Middleton, a former top-ten pick in the OHL, was the last selection of the draft this year. While it’s an inauspicious beginning to an NHL career, remember that Nick Ebert was once in the same position in 2012 after the Kings won the cup, and ended up signing with the Kings after an impressive run this year. Lintuniemi adds another big-bodied, puck-moving presence to the Kings blueline as the Kings continue to pile up youngsters.
Owen Sound Attack: Jaden Lindo (6/173 – Pittsburgh Penguins)
Lindo was able to overcome a season dogged with injuries (including season-ending surgery) to hear his name called on draft day. He was still able to show off his upper-body strength at the combine, so he’ll be hoping to show the Pens the whole package and why Dale DeGray feels the hard-working winger could have gone in the second or third round when it’s time for camp.
Peterborough Petes: Nick Ritchie (1/10 – Anaheim Ducks), Eric Cornel (2/44 – Buffalo Sabres)
There was a lot of talk surrounding Ritchie going to either the Carolina Hurricanes or Toronto Maple Leafs during the draft, but he ended up going to Anaheim in the end. People talk about the injury issues early in his OHL career along with a lack of focus from time-to-time, but Ritchie was able to show big-time potential this year, and a Perry/Getzlaf/Ritchie combo could be deadly. The Sabres made it a pair of OHLers in the second round pairing Cornel with Brendan Lemieux, and with mixed reviews on Cornel, he could be poised to prove some people wrong.
Plymouth Whalers: Alex Nedeljkovic (2/37 – Carolina Hurricanes), Connor Chatham (3/71 – New Jersey Devils), Alex Peters (3/75 – Dallas Stars), Josh Wesley (4/96 – Carolina Hurricanes), Matthew Mistele (6/180 – Los Angeles Kings)
The Whalers saw an OHL-high five players drafted over the weekend, the highest of which is OHL Goaltender of the Year Alex Nedeljkovic. Nedeljkovic went to the Hurricanes (a bit of a surprise considering 2012 3rd rounder Daniel Altshuller just graduated) early in the second round, and he was later joined by teammate Josh Wesley. The Dallas Stars seem to be keying on OHL defenders that are over six feet tall as they picked up Alex Peters, while the Kings are looking for a steal in Matthew Mistele. Mistele scored 30-goals last year, but his late birthday may have hurt his stock as that total was just about cut in half this year. Chatham was another late birthday who showed enough in his first OHL season for the Devils to pick him up in the third round.
Saginaw Spirit: Dylan Sadowy (3/81 – San Jose Sharks)
The Sharks snapped up three forwards from the OHL in the draft, the second of which is Dylan Sadowy. A couple of years ago the joke was that Jeff Carter could have won they Cy Young award with how many more goals than assists he had. That could have been Sadowy last year, as Sadowy scored 27 goals to just nine assists.
Sarnia Sting: Anthony DeAngelo (1/19 – Tampa Bay Lightning), Nikolay Goldobin (1/27 – San Jose Sharks)
The Sting only saw two players picked at the Draft, but they made it count with both of them going in the first round (the only OHL team to do so). Anthony DeAngelo entered the draft with plenty of off-ice questions thanks to a tumultuous draft eligible season, but there were literally no second thoughts from the Lightning at taking him at number 19, their first of two first rounders (the second one was eventually traded). For Goldobin, he’s the third and final forward picked up by the Sharks from the OHL, and he could have gone at this spot last year, but a late birthday gave him the chance to cement his standing with a 90-point season.
Soo Greyhounds: Jared McCann (1/24 – Vancouver Canucks), Brandon Halverson (2/59 – New York Rangers), Michael Bunting (4/117 – Arizona Coyotes), Kyle Jenkins (7/187 – Carolina Hurriacnes)
The Canucks may be lining up a pretty good 1-2 punch up front with Jared McCann and last year’s first rounder Bo Horvat. McCann has had plenty of eyes on him since entering the the OHL with some saying he’s had a pro-level shot since his rookie season. Halverson’s had a pretty good few years, learning the OHL from Matt Murray and now getting to pick the brain of Henrik Lundqvist during training camp. Michael Bunting was a riser on many boards entering the draft and is the fourth OHLer selected by the Coyotes, while Jenkins was the third and final OHLer picked up by Carolina.
Sudbury Wolves: No Players Selected in 2014 NHL Draft
Windsor Spitfires: Josh Ho-Sang (1/28 – New York Islanders), Christiano DiGiacinto (6/170 – Tampa Bay Lightning), Patrick Sanvido (7/195 – Dallas Stars)
Along with DeAngelo, Josh Ho-Sang was another OHLer with a lot of off-ice questions surrounding him. Immensely talented, Ho-Sang had received heat throughout the season from media and scouts alike with regards to his composure and maturity. The Islanders weren’t concerned however, as with Michael Dal Colle already in their back pocket, they made a move for Ho-Sang to give them a pretty impressive stable of young talent to go along with John Tavares. Then there’s the typical Dallas Stars pick of an OHL defender that’s really, really tall in Sanvido, and the inspiring story of Christiano DiGiacinto who had his dream realized in person over the weekend.
Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who’s covered the OHL from rink side and the broadcast booth. He’s also filed feature reports on the OHL for the past three seasons. You can follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.