Clock ticking on OHL draft

April 10, 2024

The restless hands of time are clicking towards the 2024 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft that will be staged on Friday and Saturday of this week.

Windsor Spitfires will select first overall. Spitfires general manager Billy Bowler is in position to take a franchise type player with the no. 1 choice of the draft and the consensus is that Windsor is poised to pick one of three forwards who have stood out among the 2008 birth year prospects. They are 6 foot 5, 230 pound Ethan Belchetz of the Oakville Rangers, 5 foot 9, 170 pound Adam Valentini from the Toronto Marlboros and 6 foot 2, 195 pound Braidy Wassilyn from the Markham Majors.

“Obviously, this is exciting for our franchise,” said Bowler. “It is going to be, we think, an immediate impact player who is going to excite our fans and help our team win games. We are going to get an elite talent.”

Besides the first overall pick, the Spitfires also have two selections early in the second round.

Luca Blonda

The Spitfires had a record of 18-42-8 this season following back to back Western Conference regular season titles. They won the draft lottery over the other three teams to miss the playoffs — Niagara Ice Dogs, Peterborough Petes and Sarnia Sting — to get the first overall pick.

Meanwhile, two players from Sault Ste. Marie who headed to Pittsburgh to play in the Jr. Penguins AAA elite program this season are being projected as potential first round — or second round at worst — picks. They are long-time teammates from the Sault Ste. Marie minor hockey ranks — defenseman Luca Blonda and forward Nik Rossetto. Both left the Sault for Pittsburgh ahead of the 2023-2024 season.

With a late birth date, Blonda will not turn 16 until November 25 of this year. As for Rossetto, he will turn 16 on August 2. Various OHL general managers and scouts have referred to both Blonda and Rossetto as elite, top level prospects who combine skill, speed and hockey smarts.

Nik Rossetto

Blonda, who has offensive skills from his defense position, potted 15 goals, 30 assists, 45 points in 55 games for the Jr. Penguins this season. He led all Penguins defensemen in scoring and had the seventh most points on the team. Rossetto, meanwhile, sparked all Jr. Penguins in scoring with 47 goals, 27 assists, 74 points in 53 games. They were the only Canadian born players on the Pittsburgh roster.

This year’s OHL priority selections draft will be held over the course of two days, with Rounds 1-3 taking place beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. Rounds 4-15 will take place on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. 

“It is a real deep draft,” relayed OHL director of central scouting Darrell Woodley. “There are a lot of kids that are going to transition really well into our league next year. It is a really good draft class.”

Following is the first round order of selection.

  1. Windsor Spitfires
  2. Sarnia Sting
  3. Peterborough Petes
  4. Niagara IceDogs
  5. Barrie Colts
  6. Flint Firebirds
  7. Owen Sound Attack
  8. Kingston Frontenacs
  9. Guelph Storm
  10. Erie Otters
  11. Ottawa 67’s
  12. Sudbury Wolves
  13. Mississauga Steelheads
  14. Brantford Bulldogs
  15. Kitchener Rangers
  16. North Bay Battalion
  17. Oshawa Generals
  18. Soo Greyhounds
  19. Saginaw Spirit
  20. London Knights
  21. Ottawa 67’s* (compensatory pick)

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