US-born players in the 2004 OHL and WHL drafts

By Sandor Roberts

2004 OHL & WHL Draft Reviews

Recently, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Western
Hockey League (WHL) held their annual drafts. The OHL Priority Selection, open
to players born between the years 1985 and 1988, had selections ranging in
experience from Midget to Junior A (Jr. A). The WHL Bantam Draft was open to
players born in 1989. Numerous U.S.-trained players were selected in both


One thing to remember is that most U.S. born players do not
choose to play Major Junior (OHL, WHL, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey
League whose Midget Draft is next month). By suiting up for a team in Major
Junior, one forfeits the opportunity of playing NCAA college hockey, be it at
the Division I or Division III level. As a result, some of these draftees may
move on to a Jr. A team or to the Tier 1 United States Hockey League (USHL) to
retain their college eligibility.


Out of 14 picks in the OHL Priority Selection, the Plymouth
Whalers chose six American-trained players, which was a league-high. Their
draft picks were: Jake Helmick, D,
Pittsburgh Hornets, Tommy Sestito,
LW, Syracuse Stars (41GP-22G-31A-53Pts-188PIM), Zach Redmond, D, Detroit Compuware 88’s (64-24-25-49-24), Brett Bennett, G, Detroit Honeybaked
88’s, Anthony Farina, C, New York
Apple Core (50-16-19-35-96), and Eric
, RW, Buffalo Saints.


For those interested in bloodlines, then Blake Geoffrion of Culver Military
Academy is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Geoffrion is the grandson of
Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Bernie Geoffrion. A left wing, Geoffrion was
picked by the Brampton Battalion, but is a strong candidate to join the U.S.
National Team Development Program Under-17 team for next season. Another name
of interest is Kyle Verbeek.
Verbeek, drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, had 19 goals and 29
assists for the Detroit Honeybaked 88’s. His father is Pat Verbeek, a winger
who played 19 seasons in the NHL. If you prefer a coach’s son, then Kent Sauter may be a player to watch in
the future. Sauter, a left wing, was chosen by the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL.
He is the son of Doug Sauter who is the head coach of the Oklahoma City Blazers
of the Central Hockey League.


In the 15th and final round of the OHL Priority Selection,
the Peterborough Petes made an interesting selection, drafting Nick Grasso. Grasso, a center who spent
this past season with Suffolk PAL (53-29-49-78-130), has already committed to
UMass for 2006. Grasso turned 16 last month, so stay tuned to see if he chooses
to stay the college route or makes the jump to the OHL.


Two selections in the OHL Draft were very high choices in
the USHL Entry Draft. They are Nick
and Luke Lynes. Fanto, a
native of Dearborn, Mich., had a fantastic season with Victory Honda scoring 47
goals and adding 52 assists for 99 points. Selected by the Mississauga Icedogs,
Fanto was the first pick of the River City Lancers, going ninth overall in the
USHL Draft. Lynes, a teammate of Geoffrion at Culver, ironically was also
picked by Brampton. The left wing was the first choice of the second round of
the USHL Draft by the Sioux Falls Stampede.


Listed is a team-by-team breakdown of U.S.-trained players
selected in the OHL and WHL drafts. Stats are listed where available.


WHL Bantam Draft (players listed with hometown):

Kamloops Blazers: C.J. Stretch, C, Irvine, Calif.; Jim
O’Brian, RW, Lake Angelus, Minn.; Kevin Krause, D, Garden Grove, Calif.

Kelowna Rockets: Colin Long, C, Santa Ana, Calif.

Medicine Hat Tigers: Matt Sokol, C, Los Angeles.

Prince George Cougars: Barry Parker, D, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Red Deer: Sauter, Oklahoma City.

Seattle Thunderbirds: Patrick White, LW, Grand Rapids, Minn.

Spokane Chiefs: Drayson Bowman, C, Denver; Evan Witt, C,
Jason Greenwell, G, and Andrew Christ, RW, all of Spokane, Wash.

Vancouver Giants: John Blum, D, Santa Margoritte, Calif.;
Nick Jasowiak, C,   Minneapolis.


OHL Priority Selection (players listed with
present team):

Barrie Colts: Ryan Loach, RW, St. Louis Blues 88’s.

Belleville Bulls: Dan Grzech, C, Detroit Little Caesars 88’s.

Brampton: Geoffrion; Lynes; Mike Ratchuk, D, Buffalo Saints

Erie Otters: Joe Sova, D, Chicago Mission (70-14-48-62-65);
Kyle Greco, RW, Chicago Young Americans (57-27-37-64-79); Brad Reck, RW,
Detroit Honeybaked; Michael Jarboe, G, Detroit Compuware 88’s; Michael
Fillinger, LW, Victory Honda.

Guelph Storm: Tony Yeargo, D, Detroit Honeybaked 88’s

Kingston Frontenacs: Chad Morin, D, US-Under 17; Adam
Bellows, D, Nichols School (25-4-16-20-90); Daniel Lawson, C, Chicago Chill

Kitchener Rangers: Jack Combs, LW, California Wave
(48-58-45-103-49); Nate Hennig, LW, Detroit Honeybaked 88’s (60-30-25-55-N/A).

London Knights: Pat Kane, C, Detroit Honeybaked 88’s
(72-77-85-162-N/A); Kevin Montgomery, D, Syracuse Jr. A (51-6-22-28-34); Patrick
Maroon, D, St. Louis Blues 88’s.

Mississauga: Gabe Heller, D, Chicago Yong Americans 88’s
(69-6-17-23-65); Fanto; Chris Summers, D, Victory Honda (N/A-17-41-58-124).

Ottawa 67’s: Zachary Morbeck, C, Wisconsin Midget.

Owen Sound Attack: Bob Sanguinetti, D, Lawrenceville School
(26-4-17-21-N/A); Corey Toy, D, Hotchkiss Prep.

Peterborough: Jon Jacobs, LW, Detroit Compuware 88’s
(52-23-35-58-N/A); Jonathan Wolter, D, New Jersey Devils, Grasso.

Plymouth: Helmick; Sestito; Redmond; B. Bennett; Farina; E.

Sault Ste. Marie: Verbeek; Neil Ruffini, C, Detroit Motor
City Chiefs (14-9-6-15-12); Patrick Tiesling, LW, Detroit Compuware

Saginaw Spirit: Scott Fletcher, D, Detroit Honeybaked 88’s
(72-4-17-21-N/A); Jordan Franke, RW, Detroit Little Caesars 88’s
(51-28-34-62-123); Dustin Gazely, RW, Detroit Compuware 88’s (54-40-29-69-38);
Joseph Schweiger, RW, Detroit Belle Tire 88’s (67-42-36-78-114).

Sarnia Sting: Derek Roehl, C, Detroit Little Caesars
(50-23-34-57-58); Steve Savor, RW, Shattuck St. Mary’s; Ben Ryan, C, Victory
Honda 88’s (54-28-32-60-43); Josh Schmitt, D, Buffalo Saints.

St. Michael’s Majors: Matt Quigley, RW, Pittsburgh Hornets;
John Clanton, RW, Detroit Belle Tire 88’s (65-19-27-46-76); Billy Sweatt, C,
Team Illinois (59-30-30-60-N/A).

Windsor Spitfires: Steven Kampfer, D, Detroit Little Caesars
(59-13-28-41-N/A); Joe Palmer, G, Syracuse Stars.