For the past 16 seasons, the GTHL’s annual Midget All-Star Festival has showcased top Midget-aged talent. While many players at the Midget AAA level have been drafted to an OHL club, there are still many who are just hitting their stride come their Midget season.
The Ontario Hockey League’s inaugural Under-18 Priority Selection aims to ensure “late blooming” talent doesn’t go unnoticed. Wednesday’s OHL Under-18 Draft saw 20 Midget AAA GTHL players drafted into the OHL. The potential of undrafted Midget-aged players is highlighted by several current OHL standouts, including 2015 Memorial Cup overtime hero and GTHL graduate Anthony Cirelli. After going undrafted in his Minor Midget and Midget seasons, Cirelli made the Oshawa Generals after going for a tryout.
“It sucks not being drafted, I’ve been there,” Cirelli told OHL.com. “Maybe you had an injury that slowed you down, or maybe you didn’t hit your growth spurt yet, but this is another opportunity.”
The OHL’s Director of Player Recruitment, Daniel Broussard, echoed Cirelli’s comments, stating that every player develops at a different pace.
“With the introduction of the U18 Priority Selection, undrafted Midget AAA players will have possibly two years to reach their full hockey potential,” said Broussard. “We are very excited to showcase the elite talent of Ontario Midget hockey and provide players opportunities to further their hockey career.”
Out of the 20 GTHL players drafted, seven came from the TELUS Cup bound Mississauga Rebels. The Toronto Jr. Canadiens had the GTHL’s highest pick with winger Anthony Romano selected 8th overall by the Sarnia Sting. Click here for a full list of all 96 players drafted at the inaugural U18 OHL Priority Selection.