The Ontario Hockey League had an off year in 2004, which saw 42 players chosen from the league, and only three in the first round. The 2004 OHL draft crop may eventually produce many pro players, but there were few sure bets and few players destined to be stars.
In 2005, the OHL had a better year both in quantity and high selections, with nine players chosen in the first round, including the second and fourth overall picks in Bobby Ryan and Benoit Pouliot, who have the ability to be franchise players. In total, 43 players were selected in the seven round draft, which was two rounds shorter than previous years. An impressive 21 of those picks were in the top three rounds, a nice improvement from 16 in 2004. Here is a brief recap of the OHL picks and the teams who selected them.
FIRST ROUND (9)
Bobby Ryan, RW, Owen Sound Attack
2nd overall – Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Ryan is a big American kid who can handle the puck as if on a string. He has the size to dominate along the wall, has very soft hands for a big man, and possesses great on-ice vision. He has been more of a playmaker than a goal scorer so far in his two seasons in the OHL, but he is very capable of putting up big numbers at the next level. He is more than willing to compete hard in front of the net and pay the price to score dirty goals. Skating has been his biggest knock, but Ryan has been working hard over the summer on his stride and riding the bike to shed some pounds.
Benoit Pouliot, C, Sudbury Wolves
4th overall – Minnesota Wild
Pouliot is a classic late bloomer who exploded onto the radar of scouts everywhere with a great start in his rookie year in the OHL in 2004-05. Pouliot had always been a great skater, but before lacked the strength and conditioning needed to play in the OHL. He showed great commitment to add the extra muscle to his frame and has the potential to pack on even more as an adult. Some scouts have compared him to Vinny Lecavalier of Tampa Bay. Pouliot was the CHL rookie of the year.
Marc Staal, D, Sudbury Wolves
12th overall – New York Rangers
Staal was the second Wolves player chosen and narrowly missed being the first, as the Carolina Hurricanes thought long and hard about taking him with their third overall selection and joining his older brother Eric on the Hurricanes. Staal is a big and rangy defenseman with no noticeable flaws in his game and is a very safe bet to play in the NHL for a very long time. The only real question in his game is how much offensive upside he has. Younger brother Jordan of the Peterborough Petes could be a top five pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft.
Ryan O’Marra, C, Erie Otters
15th overall – New York Islanders
O’Marra is a speedy and skilled center who plays well at both ends of the ice and has a nice nose for the net. He was considered to be a safe first round pick, which loosely translated means that a lot of teams don’t see as much upside to him, but know that he has the ability to play in the NHL. O’Marra joins former Erie teammate Chris Campoli in the Islanders organization.
Ryan Parent, D, Guelph Storm
18th overall – Nashville Predators
Parent is a classic defensive defenseman who skates well and has good positioning. He has been a three-time captain in international tournaments and has a pair of gold medals and a silver medal to show for it, as well as an OHL championship earned during his rookie season. Parent will never put up big numbers, but will bring a good work ethic, quiet leadership and a winning attitude to the Predators organization.
Jakub Kindl, D, Kitchener Rangers
19th overall – Detroit Red Wings
Kindl entered his first season in North America with a lot of hype. His transition to the North American game was not smooth as expected. He was very inconsistent and was quite often the sixth defenseman on the Rangers. His overall package of skills and size was still enough for the Wings to take the risk to select him in the first round as they hope that he will blossom over the next few seasons to be a top four NHL defender.
Matt Lashoff, D, Kitchener Rangers
22nd overall – Boston Bruins
Lashoff had a tough draft year, missing many games due to mono at the start of the season, and finished his season with a concussion suffered in the playoffs. In between, he showed the ability to be a very smooth defenseman with great wheels who needs to be a bit more physical in his own end. He will have the opportunity to be the power play quarterback with Kitchener this season after seeing only spot duty on the second team last season. He should be a lock to play on the US World Junior team.
Matt Pelech, D, Sarnia Sting
26th overall – Calgary Flames
Pelech was a bit of a surprise to go in the first round, but the Flames obviously liked what they saw in the 6’4 and 220-pound defenseman. He is very much a project; he has a lot of raw tools, but has not put them together yet and will likely be a player who has to spend time developing in the minors once his junior career is over. Pelech had some injury troubles last year and will be counted on by the Sting to be part of their turnaround after going through a rebuilding year last season.
Steve Downie, RW, Windsor Spitfires
29th overall – Philadelphia Flyers
Downie had a sensational draft year, shooting up the rankings and was yet another surprise first round pick. The Flyers ignored the knocks on his size (5’10 and 190 pounds) and instead concentrated on his competitive and feisty nature, which makes him very tough to play against. Downie put up good points this year and showed a lot of playmaking skills to go along with his antagonistic abilities and his willingness to drop the gloves. He was a big part of the Spitfires dramatic first round comeback when they were down three games to none and then they roared back to win four in a row against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
SECOND ROUND (3)
James Neal, LW, Plymouth Whalers
33rd overall – Dallas Stars
Neal is a hard working forward who put up some decent offensive numbers on an average Whalers team in his rookie season. He seemed to wear out late in the season and that led to a sag in his totals.
Michael Blunden, RW, Erie Otters
43rd overall – Chicago Blackhawks
A year after taking five OHL players, the Blackhawks went back and grabbed another project in Blunden. He is a big winger who can skate, doesn’t shy away from the physical aspects of the game, but has not made many strides offensively in his three years in the league. With his size and abilities he could be a late bloomer offensively, or he may top out as a checking forward at the next levels.
Adam McQuaid, D, Sudbury Wolves
55th overall – Columbus Blue Jackets
The third player picked from Sudbury in this draft, McQuaid is a reliable stay at home defender who some observers thought was their best defenseman in their playoff run. He finished the regular season with the highest plus/minus on the team. He was one of the players who shot up the most through the rankings from the start of the year.
THIRD ROUND (9)
Evan Brophey, C, Belleville Bulls
68th overall – Chicago Blackhawks
Brophey has decent size at 6’2 and 190 pounds. Playing on the Olympic size ice of the Bulls should help his skating.
Richard Clune, LW, Sarnia Sting
71st overall – Dallas Stars
Clune is a speedy and feisty winger who is just finding his scoring touch in the OHL as he earns more ice time. He plays hard every shift, finishes his checks and is starting to do a better job at finishing his chances and setting up some nice plays. He’s an effective penalty killer with his speed. He has fared well in international play with a pair of gold medals and a silver medal in the Under 18 and Under 17 tournaments he has participated in. At 5’10 and 188 pounds, Clune has some questions of how he will fare against the bigger and stronger pro competition, but he is the type of player who may flourish under the new rules set out by the NHL.
Radek Smolenak, LW, Kingston Frontenacs
73rd overall – Tampa Bay Lightning
Smolenak put up good numbers, 31 goals and 60 points on a bad team, not a bad feat for his first year in North America. He has nice size and when on the top of his game, is a real threat to score.
Daniel Ryder, C, Peterborough Petes
74th overall – Calgary Flames
Daniel is the younger brother of Michael Ryder of the Montreal Canadians. He is a skilled player who can play with sandpaper in his game. He has great hockey sense and competes hard, is very good defensively, but still managed to pop 82 points. Size and skating kept him from being a first round pick.
Danny Syvret, D, London Knights
81st overall – Edmonton Oilers
Syvret was passed over in his first two years of draft eligibility, with size being the main concern. Defensemen standing in at 6’ are a rarity in the NHL and time will tell if that changes under the new rules. Syvret is coming off a dream year of a World Junior Gold Medal, an OHL championship, a Memorial Cup championship, several team records and he was named the CHL Defenseman of the Year. The Oilers have found themselves a smooth skating and intelligent defenseman who rarely makes mistakes and one who has improved dramatically in the offensive aspects of his game. A nice bonus for the Oilers is that with his age, Syvret can step in and play at the AHL level if he doesn’t stick with the big club.
Phil Orsekovic, D, Brampton Battalion
82nd overall – Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs didn’t have to travel far to watch this prospect and they obviously liked what they saw in the 6’4, 220-pound defenseman. He is still a bit of a project, but is also one of the biggest defenders in the draft. He needs a lot of work on his offensive skills and skating.
Mark Fraser, D, Kitchener Rangers
84th overall – New Jersey Devils
Fraser is a big bruising defender who takes care of his own end nicely and clears the slot of attackers. A great penalty killer who got a lot of practice on the most penalized team in the league, he tends to make the simple play and doesn’t often join the rush. On a team that had three NHL first round picks as well as the OHL overage player of the year on the point, Fraser received his share of ice time and was a very dependable player in this his first year in the league.
Chris Lawrence, F, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
89th overall – Tampa Bay Lightning
Lawrence was a big disappointment for many scouts this season as he was expected to show a lot more offensively than what he did. His numbers were very mediocre considering he got a lot of ice time with Jeff Carter (PHI) who was one of the best players in the league. Lawrence has some raw tools, but he has to get much stronger and this year will be a telling one as he won’t have Carter alongside him. But at 6’4 he has the frame and skating ability to be a dominant player in the OHL.
Dan Collins, RW, Plymouth Whalers
90th overall – Florida Panthers
Collins is one of those players who does a lot of things well, but none of them outstanding. He put up average numbers on an average Whalers team, but could be more consistent.
FOURTH ROUND (4)
Cody Bass, C, Mississauga Ice Dogs
95th overall – Ottawa Senators
Bass is a speedy, pesky, checking specialist in the mold of a Kris Draper. He hasn’t shown much offensively so far in his first two seasons in the OHL, but has done well in international tournaments in his checking role. Bass was one of the smaller forwards in the draft at 5’11 and 170 pounds.
Patrick Davis, LW, Kitchener Rangers
99th overall – New Jersey Devils
The fourth and final Kitchener player taken in the draft slid a bit, dogged perhaps by criticism of his physical play. Davis is a speedy forward who plays the off-wing and can create scoring chances when he bears down on the defense. He’s effective on the cycle with a good first step to pull away from his check. Is a good penalty killer and will get a shot at the first power play unit on what should be a strong Ranger team in the upcoming season. His production sagged in the playoffs, especially in the conference finals against London.
Tom Pyatt, C, Saginaw Spirit
107th overall – New York Rangers
Pyatt is the younger brother of Taylor, a former first round pick of the Islanders. He lacks the size of his brother, but is regarded to be a better player in some other aspects of the game. He had a strong Under 18 championship for Canada in the spring.
Patrick McNeill, D, Saginaw Spirit
118th overall – Washington Capitals
McNeill was the first overall pick in the OHL draft and is one of these smooth skating defensemen who stand at or just under 6’ who find it tough to get drafted into the NHL. He has played in a lot of different situations in his first two seasons in the league and by playing on a weak team he has logged a lot of minutes. He has good offensive upside, but it is a matter of will he be strong enough to compete against the larger competition in the professional ranks.
FIFTH ROUND (7)
Bobby Bolt, LW, Kingston Frontenacs
127th overall – Anaheim Mighty Ducks
The big winger came over to Kingston in a trade with London and he benefited greatly from the chance to play a regular shift. He’s still very much a project, but forwards with his size (6’4 and 223 pounds) usually get that extra chance to make it to the bigs.
Kevin Lalande, G, Belleville Bulls
128th overall – Calgary Flames
The first goalie chosen from the OHL had a decent rookie season with the Bulls and has average size at 6’ and 175 pounds.
Daren Machesney, G, Brampton Battalion
143rd overall – Washington Capitals
Machesney split time in net for the Battalion and played in the CHL Top Prospects Game. At 6’ and 166 pounds, he relies on his quickness to cover the net.
Trevor Koverko, D, Owen Sound Attack
147th overall – New York Rangers
Koverko is 6’3, 205 lb. tough defender who didn’t see a lot of ice on the Attack defense corps that wasn’t that strong.
Derek Joslin, D, Ottawa 67s
149th overall – San Jose Sharks
Joslin is a 6’1 defender who plays a physical game and has a number of good tools. He posted the best plus/minus on the team in this his rookie season, but seemed overmatched when the 67s reached the league final and in the Memorial Cup. He competes hard and is eager to learn and should keep improving over the course of his OHL career.
Cal O’Reilly, C, Windsor Spitfires
150th overall – Nashville Predators
O’Reilly put up decent numbers on a rebuilding Spitfire team but needs to work on his skating. He is yet another player with roots in Seaforth, Ontario, a small town that has produced a number of NHL players, many of whom were late bloomers. He took one minor penalty in 61 games as a rookie.
Josh Beaulieu, F, London Knights
152nd overall – Philadelphia Flyers
Beaulieu is a tough-nosed forward who is rapidly becoming one of the best fighters in the OHL. He is a banger and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty in the corners and in front of the net. He’ll likely get a chance to play a bit on the power play or on the top two lines for London this season and the Flyers will get a better read on his offensive capabilities then.
SIXTH ROUND (6)
Marek Kvapil, RW, Saginaw Spirit
163rd overall – Tampa Bay Lightning
Kvapil has the distinction of being the oldest OHL player selected in the draft. The gifted forward often had to carry the weak Spirit on his back. The main question is, will this smallish forward (listed at 5’11) be able to pull off the same moves at the next level, and if he can’t, how will he adapt? He is the type of player who could benefit from the rule changes that the NHL is bringing out.
Kevin Beech, G, Sudbury Wolves
165th overall – Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa went right back to the OHL two picks later to take Beech. He was Sudbury’s second string goalie but did see a lot of action in the playoffs. He has nice height at 6’3, but has to fill out a bit.
Adam Dennis, G, London Knights
182nd overall – Buffalo Sabres
The third 19-year-old OHL player selected in the draft, and the second from the Knights, is an goalie with an unorthodox style who just wins. He won the OHL championship two seasons ago with the Guelph Storm and received a lot of the credit for helping them knock off the Knights. London picked him up this year at the trade deadline and he split time in the net for the OHL championship, before playing three of the four games in the Memorial Cup.
Will Colbert, D, Ottawa 67s
183rd overall – San Jose Sharks
Colbert was the captain of the 67s and the defensive defenseman was paired most of the year with Derek Joslin, who was also selected by the Sharks. Colbert was a mentor to the rookie Joslin over the course of the season. The Ottawa Senators had taken Colbert 228th overall in the 2003 draft, but they did not sign him to a contract so he went back into the draft.
Ryan McGinnis, D, Plymouth Whalers
184th overall – Los Angeles Kings
The left shot was the third Whaler taken in the draft this year. He has the reputation of being one of the most physically fit Whalers.
Matt D’Agostini, RW, Guelph Storm
190th overall – Montreal Canadiens
This feisty free agent pick up by the Storm stepped in and became one of their key players and showed a bit of decent offensive upside in his first season in the OHL. He has a good set of wheels.
SEVENTH ROUND (5)
Nicholas Tuzzolini, D, Sarnia Sting
196th overall – New York Islanders
The big American stands in at 6’6 and 220 pounds and is a decent project player. He was put into all kinds of situations on a weak Sting team and responded fine, but did have one of the worst plus/minus marks on the team. If he can improve his skating he has the potential to be a decent defensive defender, as his wingspan will make it tough for forwards to get around him.
Trevor Hendrikx, D, Peterborough Petes
201st overall – Columbus Blue Jackets
Hendrikx was selected in the ninth round by the Blue Jackets two years ago, and is now back in their organization.
Luch Aquino, F, Brampton Battalion
210th overall – New York Islanders
The 5’9 forward made a move from the Maine Black Bears of NCAA hockey to the OHL and gave the Battalion a much-needed offensive spark as one of their best forwards.
Scott Todd, D, Windsor Spitfires
213th overall – Nashville Predators
A big man at 6’4 and 225 pounds who will have to work hard on his skating and mobility if he is to move up to the next level.
John Seymour, LW, Brampton Battalion
226th overall – Los Angeles Kings
Seymour failed to score a goal in 40 games as a rookie.
·Only three OHL teams did not have a player drafted, the St. Mikes Majors, the Barrie Colts, and the Oshawa Generals.
·The Kitchener Rangers, Sudbury Wolves, and the Brampton Battalion led the way with four players drafted per team.
·Twenty-three NHL teams drafted at least one player from the OHL.
·The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted a total of four OHL players.
·There were 22 forwards, 17 defensemen and four goalies selected from the OHL.
Notables not selected
Tom Mannino of the Saginaw Spirit has put on a clinic on how not to get drafted. The 18-year-old has asked to be traded twice, has struggled with his weight and there has been rumors of a lot of interference from his family. Because of this baggage, he was overlooked, despite having far more talent than many of the players drafted this year. The 5’11 winger has the potential to put up some big numbers this year for the Spirit.
Danny Battochio of the Ottawa 67s had a great playoff run in goal to help lead them to the OHL final and the Memorial Cup. This wasn’t enough, even in a draft year that was regarded to be weak for goalies, to get the 19-year-old butterfly goalie drafted. He still has the opportunity to sign a free agent contract with someone, or return as an overage goalie to the 67s.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.