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The OHL Draft--Dirtiest Day in Sports

The Ontario Hockey League holds their priority selection this Saturday. It's called a priority selection rather than a "draft" because it's where the few teams that have priority get to select all the best players, and the loser teams that nobody wants to play for gets everybody else.

It actually makes for great theatre if you can get past the fact that we're talking about 15 and 16 year-old kids being encouraged to lie and deceive to negotiate where they end up. As an example, I'll bring up the 2008 OHL Draft. In that draft, John McFarland was the consensus, obvious number one pick. The second pick belonged to Erie, a place no one really wanted to go to. The week of the draft, Tyler Seguin--whatever happened to that guy?-- sent a letter to every team saying he was definitely going to the NCAA, so no team should draft him. There were rumors of Tyler Toffoli committing to Notre Dame, and Jeff Skinner committing to Miami--whether either actually happened is anyone's guess. And my personal favorite of Austin Watson sending a letter saying he was 100% committed to playing in the USHL. All four players ended up dropping in the draft to teams they wanted to play for, and were signed to those teams by the end of the summer, with Watson standing out for citing the fact that he wasn't invited to the NTDP as his reasoning. All four players are pretty likely to be picked in the first round of the NHL Draft this summer.

On to this year, there doesn't seem to be a lot of drama about the number one pick. The Sarnia Sting have the pick, and most people expect them to select Chicago Fury forward Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk had a great year, leading the MWEHL in scoring by a wide margin, and has made it pretty clear that he wants to head that route. More interesting is where his international future lies. I believe he would have the option of playing for either the US or Russia in international play. After the last year, that kind of seems like a no-brainer, but you never know.

The first round should be littered with some other kids that are kind of considering college, but not really. Matia Marcontuoni has shown interest in Michigan, but he'll likely go in the top five of the draft and sign with the OHL. American defenseman Nick Ebert played in the USHL last year, and visited some colleges, but most seem to think he's a lock to sign with the OHL as well.

Another player to keep an eye on is Michigan recruit Boo Nieves. It's tough to know what to make of him. He's been rated very high by just about everyone that does that sort of thing, but then wasn't offered a spot at the NTDP. Some team may think they can sway him.