Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Midget Hockey League have no less than eight players with 2004 birth dates who are eligible for the upcoming 2020 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.
By position, the eight mates are goalie Noah Metivier, defensemen Connor Toms, Mason Chitaroni, Adam Barone and Michael Beltrano and forwards Devin Mauro, Calem Mangone and Tyson Doucette.
At the top of the crate of eight, elite defenders Toms and Chitaroni are widely expected to be taken within the second and fourth rounds of the 15-round priority selections draft.
Toms netted nine goals, 17 assists, 26 points in 38 regular season games while Chitaroni had 6-13-19 numbers in 38 outings for the Jr. Greyhounds, who finished atop the Great North standings with a record of 28-7-3.
Meanwhile, the high-scoring Mauro — who finished second in league scoring with 30 goals, 32 assists, 62 points in 38 games — is seen as a virtual wild card with wide-ranging speculation that pegs him as anywhere from a fifth to a 15th-round pick.
That is, at least, according to a faction of OHL scouts and general managers that were contacted by Hockey News North.
The same posse of sources, in sweeping terms, also noted the other five Jr. Greyhounds — Metivier, Mangone, Barone, Beltrano and Doucette — as “possible” to “improbable” draft picks.
Metivier had a goals against average of 2.93 in 1,410 minutes of action, Mangone had 13 goals, 11 assists, 24 points in 27 games, Barone had 5-13-18 totals in 32 outings, Beltrano was 3-11-14 in 38 matches and Doucette posted 2-11-13 statistics in 23 contests.
As the projected top picks from the Jr. Greyhounds, aforementioned defensemen Connor Toms and Mason Chitaroni are not short on bloodlines.
Toms is the son of Jeff Toms, who as a hulking left winger, played three full seasons in the OHL with the Soo Greyhounds after being a 13th-round draft pick.
The elder Toms was a member of the Greyhounds 1993 Memorial Cup championship team before ending his OHL career in superb style during the 1993-1994 season with 52 goals, 45 assists, 97 points.
He then became a ninth-round draft pick to the National Hockey League and went on to play in more than 230 NHL games before embarking on a lengthy pro career in the Swiss elite league.
Meanwhile, Chitaroni is the son of Terry Chitaroni, a hard-nosed forward who played four full OHL seasons with the Sudbury Wolves from 1988 to 1992.
As an OHLer, Chitaroni racked up 276 points — including playoffs — and spent 629 minutes in penalties as a Wolves standout who became team captain.
He then played pro in the American Hockey League and in Germany after being an NHL draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Back to the youngsters, Jr. Greyhounds head coach Jamie Henderson has plenty good to say about both Toms and Chitaroni.
“Connor has put in a lot of time to develop his craft both on and off the ice since he was a young player. He is a real student of the game and his skill set should definitely flourish at the next level as his all around game continues to mature,” Henderson said of Toms.
“As for Mason, he can flat out skate with the best 2004 players anywhere. His all around game has grown tremendously since last summer and we have no doubts it will continue to improve over time,” Henderson said of Chitaroni.
The upcoming draft is slated for this Saturday, April 4 with a 9:00 a.m. start and will be conducted live via the internet.