The OHL will hold their annual Priority Selection Draft on Saturday beginning at 9:00pm EST. As usual, there's a lot of intrigue for college hockey fans heading into this year's Draft. Here's what you need to know before the action begins on Saturday morning.
(If you're looking for more in-depth coverage, I can't recommend the fine work done by the folks at TheScout.ca enough.)
The top pick belongs to Sudbury and they are expected to announce Israeli-born forward David Levin as the first overall pick. Levin isn't considered a super-high-end can't miss type like #1 picks in previous years, but his outstanding hands and skating ability make him a very exciting offensive prospect.
As for the NCAA, there are a lot of high-end Americans that are considered first round talents. It's no coincidence that the NTDP announced ten players have committed to their program the Thursday before this Draft. Michigan commit Michael Pastujov has been ranked among the top three players in the draft most of the year, despite missing a fair amount of time due to injury. Committing to the NTDP likely drops him a bit in the draft. Same goes for Boston University commit David Farrance and Michigan commit Quinn Hughes, who are considered a top-10 talents.
As for goalies, Cleveland goalie Adam Scheel and Honeybaked goalie Dylan St. Cyr are expected to play for the NTDP. Both likely would have been fairly high OHL picks. Those two being selected likely means attention will be turned to Northeastern commit Cayden Primeau, who is regarded as one of the top goalies in the age group. He may be a threat to bolt to the OHL if the right team picks him.
There were some notable absences from that NTDP announcement though. Detroit Honeybaked forward Vanya Lodnia is a projected top-10 pick that was a conspicuous omission from the NTDP Evaluation Camp last month, likely indicating that he's committed to the OHL route. Lodnia's teammate Sasha Chmelevski and Victory Honda U18 defenseman Tommy Miller are potential first round picks that participated in NTDP Evaluation Camp but weren't part of the NTDP's initial announcement. It's also noteworthy that none of the three have made college commitments when they would have likely fielded many offers by now.
Another interesting name to keep an eye on tomorrow is Boston College commit Jacob Tortora. Tortora is a native of Rochester, New York but played his hockey this past season for Don Mills in Toronto's most competitive U16 league. Tortora didn't participate in the NTDP Eval Camp because he was playing in the OHL Cup that weekend(and was reportedly scouted there). Tortora is a very small, speedy forward, and with the NTDP already committing to Sean Dhooghe, and reportedly interested in taking Logan Hutsko, next year's U17s may already have that role filled.
It's become increasingly rare for Canadian players at this age to be in play for NCAA teams, but there is one exception to that this year. Western Michigan commit Ian Blacker is considered one of the top defensemen available in the draft. Blacker is a bit of a unique situation though, in that his older brother is committed to Western Michigan too, and stuck with his commitment despite some fairly heavy OHL pressure to sign. The younger Blacker is expected to follow in his brother's footsteps.
Regardless, there's always a few surprises on draft day. The general rule is that the lower an American player/NCAA committed player falls, especially to their relative value, the better it is for their odds of actually playing college hockey.