The clock ticks a little slower these days for players sitting in anticipation of the OHL Priority Selection. On April 8, Minor Midget players will finally find out what their hockey future holds – a feeling Sarnia Sting rookie Cameron Hough knows all too well.
“Be prepared for a very emotional day, especially if you’re hoping to be taken in the 100 – 300 pick range,” said Hough, who was taken in the 13th round. “I originally thought I wouldn’t watch the draft but that’s easier said than done.”
The feelings Hough experienced a year ago are echoed by Vaughan Kings’ forward and GTHL Minor Midget Player of the Year Nick Porco heading into the draft.
“Right now it is a very anxious but exciting time for my family and myself,” explained Porco, who will be watching the draft. “I have been waiting for this draft my whole life, so for it to be finally approaching is exciting.”
The preparation players undergo in the years leading up to the draft is far more than just mental. Toronto Young Nationals goaltender Zachary Roy has taken specific measures this season to ensure his game is ready for the next level.
“I continued to work with goalie coaches to get stronger and faster,” explained Roy, who stopped 41 shots in a 3-2 loss to the Mississauga Reps in the OHL Cup Final. “I took a couple of days off after [the OHL Cup Final] and I have been working out since then.”
While over 300 players will be selected by the 20 OHL teams, the OHL’s Director of Player Recruitment, Daniel Broussard, emphasized that going undrafted doesn’t mark the end of a successful hockey career.
“Priority Selection is a representation of where you’re at as a 15-year-old, not an indication where you’ll be as a player two to three years down the line,” said Broussard. “Drafted or not, players need to understand this one day will not define their hockey career. There are many players who go undrafted, but have very successful careers in the OHL and even the NHL.”
In order to provide opportunities to players at different stages of hockey development, the OHL has introduced an Under-18 Priority Selection for Midget aged players. The inaugural Under-18 Priority Selection will take place on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, beginning at 7:00 p.m. The 2017 OHL Priority Selection will take place Saturday, April 8 starting at 9 a.m.