Saturday, April 9th was that time of year again for the Ontario Hockey League as the 2016 Priority Selection took place on the league website from morning until late afternoon. It also marked the beginning of a new era as hockey players born in the year 2000 were eligible for this year’s draft.
The Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection has a total of fifteen rounds and twenty teams picking.
With this year’s draft now officially in the books, let’s recap some interesting first round facts.
After finishing last in the Ontario Hockey League this season with a record of 13-49-4-2, the Guelph Storm took defenceman Ryan Merkley as the top pick in this year’s draft.
Merkley, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, who stands 5’11 and 156 lbs, had 7 goals and 44 points through 33 games this season with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens Minor Midget AAA club.
For the Guelph Storm, this year marked the first time they picked first overall in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection since 1992 when they took former NHL forward Jeff O’Neill, who also had his # 92 retired by the Storm this season and is currently their all time points leader with 329.
BUILDING BY THE DRAFT
After taking forward David Levin first overall in the 2015 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, but finishing second last in the league this year with a record of 16-46-5-1, the Sudbury Wolves took a defenceman this time as they held this year’s second overall pick, taking Waterloo, Ontario native Owen Lalonde.
The 6’0 and 174 lbs defenceman had 13 goals and 37 points through 33 games this season with the Windsor AAA Zone Minor Midget AAA club.
THE NEXT GENERATION
During Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, there were a few familiar last names that we have previously heard in the National Hockey League.
The defending Ontario Hockey League and Memorial Cup champion Oshawa Generals, who held the sixth overall pick this year, took Toronto, Ontario right winger Danil Antropov.
Danil, who is the son of former NHL forward Nik Antropov, had 36 goals and 72 points through 56 games this season with the Toronto Marlboro Minor Midget AAA club.
The 2000 birth year forward stands 6’0 and 166 lbs.
With the final pick in the first round at No. 20, the Barrie Colts took forward Jack McBain.
Jack, who is the son of former NHL forward Andrew McBain, had 10 goals and 25 points through 16 games this season with the Don Mills Flyers Minor Midget AAA club.
The Toronto, Ontario native stands 6’2 and 182 lbs.
HOUNDS RUNNING FAST
Last to mention, our very own Soo Greyhounds have had a lot of success drafting first round picks who ended up going high in the National Hockey League draft from 2013 on.
Looking back to 2011, when the Hounds owned the No. 3 overall pick in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, took 1995 birth year defenceman Darnell Nurse, who ended up going seventh overall in the 2013 National Hockey League draft to the Edmonton Oilers and has just completed his rookie season this year with them.
One year later in 2012, the Hounds then owned the No. 4 overall pick, taking 1996 birth year forward Jared McCann, who ended up going twenty fourth overall in the 2014 National Hockey League draft to the Vancouver Canucks and has completed his rookie season this year as a nineteen year old with them.
In 2013, with the No. 11 overall pick, the Hounds took local product Blake Speers, who is currently in his third season with his hometown Soo Greyhounds. That year, Speers also became the first local boy to be selected in the first round by the Hounds since Tyler Kennedy back in 2002.
Speers, who was taken by the New Jersey Devils during the 2015 National Hockey League draft, sixty seventh overall, became the first Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product to be named Hounds captain since Colin Miller in 2013.
In this year’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, the Hounds, who owned the No. 9 overall pick selected Peterborough, Ontario forward Barrett Hayton.
Hayton, who stands 6’1 and 179 lbs, had 36 goals and 73 points through 59 games this season with the Toronto Red Wings Minor Midget AAA club.
Looking at this year’s roster, Hounds 2015 first round pick and 1999 birth year forward Liam Hawel, who is having a good rookie season so far with the Soo, is eligible for the 2017 National Hockey League draft.
Then, there’s some third round magic for our Hounds!
1997 birth year forward Zach Senyshyn, who is in his second season with the Hounds, went fifteenth overall to the Boston Bruins in the 2015 and was taken by the Hounds in the third round (51st overall) during the 2013 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
This season, Senyshyn became the first Hound to hit 45 goals in a season since 1997, when the Soo Greyhounds had Richard Uniacke (44 goals) and Joe Seroski (54 goals).
And let’s not forget 2014 first round pick Anthony Salinitri, who the Hounds traded to the Sarnia Sting prior to the 2015 Ontario Hockey League trade deadline for star defenceman Anthony DeAngelo, who then went on to win CHL defenceman of the year.
DeAngelo was also a 2014 first round pick (19th overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightening.
So with a new era beginning in the 2016-2017 hockey season, it will then be time to see what the 2000 birth year draft class will bring into the Ontario Hockey League.