The Ontario Hockey League is not shy about professing itself as the premier route to “The Show”. And with nearly 20 per cent of this year’s drafted players coming out of the OHL — including 10 first-rounders — it’s clear that the “O” is not planning to relinquish its crown.
In total, 41 OHL players were selected in the 2014 NHL Draft (26 forwards, 12 defensemen, and three goaltenders), with Aaron Ekblad earning first overall status after being chosen by the Florida Panthers. While there was some debate as to whether Ekblad or one of the Sams would be selected first, the “Exceptional Player” Ekblad’s combination of size, two-way skill, and maturity were too much for the rebuilding Panthers to resist. Ekblad projects as a rock on the blueline, likely for the next decade, in the Sunshine State.
The OHL dominated the top five of this year’s draft, with the Kingston Frontenacs’ Sam Bennett and Oshawa Generals’ Michael Dal Colle selected fourth and fifth by the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders respectively. The hulking Nick Ritchie rounded out the top 10 when he was selected out of Peterborough by the Anaheim Ducks.
While the selection of Brendan Perlini of the Niagara IceDogs at 12th overall by the Arizona Coyotes wasn’t a surprise, the next selection was clearly high-risk, high-reward. Anthony DeAngelo was rated as the number-two defender by many, but character issues and suspensions relating to ‘inappropriate statements’ made to other players served to suppress his status. The Tampa Bay Lightning took a chance on the Sarnia Sting player who has said he’s learned from his mistakes, and he has the potential — even at 19 — to be the steal of this draft.
The St. Louis Blues took the small but speedy Robby Fabbri from the Memorial Cup runner-up Guelph Storm with the 21st selection, with the Vancouver Canucks following up three picks later with the selection of rugged Jared McCann out from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The next two picks were clear high-risk, high-reward selections, but both with tremendous offensive upside. Nikolay Goldobin, from the Sarnia Sting, has all the offensive talent in the world but appears sometimes allergic to the defensive end. He’s a wizard with the puck, scoring and passing with aplomb, but needs to develop at least some semblance of a defensive game before he makes an impact with the San Jose Sharks. And the Islanders, with their second selection of the first round, picked up Josh Ho-Sang of the Windsor Spitfires. Again, Ho-Sang’s talent has never been called into question, but his team play has been called into question. When he uses his teammates, he can have an incredible impact on a team.
There were some family ties in the second round, with Brendan Lemieux (son of Claude) and Ryan MacInnis (son of Al) taken 31st and 43rd respectively by the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes. Sandwiched between those OHL selections was the first Ontario-based goalie taken in the Plymouth Whalers dynamic Alex Nedeljkovic, who went 37th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes.
One of the best surprises of the draft included Christian Dvorak of the London Knights who was selected 58th overall by the Arizona Coyotes after missing the second half of the season due to an injury.
In total, 10 OHL players were selected in the first round, with nine more added in the second — bringing the OHL’s totals to 19 out of the first 60 picks. Six OHL prospects were selected in the third round, four in the fourth, eight were selected in the sixth, and four in the seventh. No OHL player was selected in the fifth round.
1. Aaron Ekblad (Barrie Colts) – Florida Panthers
4. Sam Bennett (Kingston Frontenacs) – Calgary Flames
5. Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa Generals) – New York Islanders
10. Nick Ritchie (Peterborough Petes) – Anaheim Ducks
12. Brendan Perlini (Niagara IceDogs) – Arizona Coyotes
19. Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia Sting) – Tampa Bay Lightning
21. Robby Fabbri (Guelph Storm) — St. Louis Blues
24. Jared McCann (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – Vancouver Canucks
27. Nikolay Goldobin (Sarnia Sting) – San Jose Sharks
28. Joshua Ho-Sang (Windsor Spitfires) – New York Islanders
31. Brendan Lemieux (Barrie Colts) – Buffalo Sabres
37. Alex Nedeljkovic (Plymouth Whalers) – Carolina Hurricanes
43. Ryan MacInnis (Kitchener Rangers) – Arizona Coyotes
44. Eric Cornel (Peterborough Petes) – Buffalo Sabres
54. Hunter Smith (Oshawa Generals) – Calgary Flames
58. Christian Dvorak (London Knights) – Arizona Coyotes
60. Alex Lintuniemi (Ottawa 67’s) – Los Angeles Kings
81. Dylan Sadowy (Saginaw Spirit) – San Jose Sharks
90. Michael Amadio (North Bay Battalion) – Los Angeles Kings
93. Nick Magyar (Kitchener Rangers) – Colorado Avalanche
96. Josh Wesley (Plymouth Whalers) – Carolina Hurricanes
115. Brent Moran (Niagara IceDogs) – Dallas Stars
117. Michael Bunting (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – Arizona Coyotes
154. Aaron Haydon (Niagara IceDogs) – Dallas Stars
156. Kyle Pettit (Erie Otters) – Vancouver Canucks
157. Jake Marchment (Belleville Bulls) – Los Angeles Kings
170. Cristiano DiGiacinto (Windsor Spitfires) – Tampa Bay Lightning
171. Kevin Labanc (Barrie Colts) – San Jose Sharks
172. Chandler Yakimowicz (London Knights) – St. Louis Blues
180. Matthew Mistele (Plymouth Whalers) – Los Angeles Kings
187. Kyle Jenkins (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – Carolina Hurricanes
195. Patrick Sanvido (Windsor Spitfires) – Dallas Stars
209. Spencer Watson (Kingston Frontenacs) – Los Angeles Kings
210. Jacob Middleton (Ottawa 67’s) – Los Angeles Kings
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