How the OHL Fared at the Draft – Part 2

By Jason Ahrens

Previously we took a look at the first round and what players went where from the OHL, now we will take a look at the rest of the draft. In the second round, there were 5 players from the OHL chosen and for the second year in the row, the not so Mighty Ducks looked to St. Mike’s for their second rounder. Smallish but skilled center Tim Brent was taken 37th overall by Anaheim. He is good on faceoffs, plays both ends of the ice well and is very creative with the puck. He must be thrilled to be picked by a franchise that has yet to dress 4 legitimate NHL centers in any game during their less than impressive existence. That should make his chances of making this paper-thin organization in a few years much better.

The Dallas Stars rocked the house when they chose Trevor Daley with the 43rd pick. Daley is from the Toronto area and had lots of family and friends present. He is a small defenceman from the Sault Greyhounds who might be one of the best skaters in the draft. He changes speeds well when carrying the puck and if he can shake off the injury troubles that have plagued him in his first three seasons and grow a bit stronger, he might be groomed to replace Sydor or Zubov when they move on. He has huge offensive upside, he just has to stay healthy.

The Leafs looked to Peterborough with their second rounder, taking Matt Stajan 57th overall. He is a center with decent size and skill but will have to battle hard over the next two seasons to earn a contract with the Leafs, who have an interesting philosophy of playing hard ball with prospects and lower end players, probably to justify all the big money they throw at marginal players (see Anders Ericksson and Robert Reichel). Tampa Bay’s lone pick in the first 3 rounds was the 60th and they snapped winger Adam Henrich who is a bit of a project and the Bolts hope they develop better than his older brother who is wallowing in the Oilers system. The Blues took Andrei Mikhnov with the 62nd pick, a forward with the Sudbury Wolves.

Round 3 saw 5 more OHLers plucked, starting with Petr Kanko of the Kitchener Rangers at the 66 slot by the Kings. This Czech winger can play either wing and has loads of upside, he has a good nose for the net and is build like Vladimir Krutov, short, stocky and shifty. He had a bit of the good, the bad and the ugly in his first North American season, but with the Rangers having most of their key men back, he could be a major force in his sophomore season and be a nice asset for the Kings. The Panthers took Plymouth forward Greg Campbell with the next pick and he should play pro, the question is at what level? I have my doubts about his upside but with some key guys graduating from the Whalers he may get a lot more ice time this season.

The Ducks picked up a solid stay at home defenceman with the 71rst pick, grabbing Brian Lee from Erie, the type of guy you don’t notice a lot in a game but when you think back he was always in position doing the little things. New Jersey grabbed the first of their two pesty wingers from Windsor taking Ahren Nittel 85th, in the fourth round they would snap up Cam Janssen. In these two they have a lot of character, guys who will hit, fight, and hustle, but will their skill be enough to get them to the next level? San Jose finished off the OHL selections of the third round with Jonas Fiedler of Plymouth going 86th.

Other interesting picks in the draft included Nashville taking Pat Jarrett in the fifth round. Jarrett was a former first pick overall in the OHL draft by the Mississauga IceDogs who left the team and forced a trade to Owen Sound part way through the season. Jarrett never really got on track offensively, mostly because he had a bad injury in the summer at the Team Canada Under 18 camp, had troubles with Don Cherry once he returned to the lineup, and them had lots of time off before the trade was finalized. He does have decent upside, but is small and needs to put points on the board, which he may with a fresh start with the Attack this season. Chicago grabbed defender James Wisniewski from Plymouth with the 156th pick and he could be a bit of a sleeper. He has seen a lot of ice over the last two seasons on a strong Whaler blueline and as a few of the veterans move on, he could become one of the better rearguards in the OHL as an 18 or 19 year old.

The New York Islanders grabbed goalie Brad Topping in the seventh round, I was a bit surprised at how low he went, I figured maybe a few rounds higher, but the Brampton Battalion keeper will have lots of time to prove his doubters wrong. And finally, it was nice to see a couple of kids who were passed over in their first draft year taken, even though it was in the 8th round. Dennis Wideman of London, and Marcus Smith of Kitchener, were taken by Buffalo and Phoenix respectively. Playing on the same team as Rick Nash and Steve Eminger didn’t hurt these guys, as they were seen lots of times by scouts. Wideman had a strong year offensively and will be a good bet to lead the OHL in scoring by defenceman this upcoming season. Smith was paired with Eminger most of the season and will see lots of ice this upcoming season too.

So all in all it was a decent draft for the OHL, now these kids will have to improve their games and work ethic in order to get a shot at the next level. I think in 5 years there will be a few sleepers come out of this draft from the OHL, and who knows if any of the Europeans selected will end up playing here as imports next season or the one after?