Of the 11 players from the Great North Under 18 Hockey League who were picked at the 2023 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft, Rylan Fellinger is an anomaly. Not only is the big defenseman the only one of the 11 to become a full time performer in the OHL this season as a 2007 birth year player but he made the Flint Firebirds as a 13th round draft pick.
In addition to that startling stat, Fellinger was the 10th of the 11 players from the Great North to be taken at the 15 round 2023 OHL draft. Which in itself is deserving of a “wow.”
Regular season and playoffs included for the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North in 2022-2023, the right hand shooting Fellinger found range for two goals, 18 assists, 20 points in 31 games. But he played in the shadow of — and possibly wasn’t promoted as much as — two other defensemen on the Jr. Greyhounds who ended up getting drafted ahead of him.
Meanwhile, the fact that he made Flint as a 16-year old this season — the 6-foot-3, 185 pound Fellinger has skated in 44 of the Firebirds 47 games to date and has earned his place in the lineup — is not all that surprising to Blaine Smith, who is the well respected northern scout for OHL Central Scouting.
“I had him rated as a mid round pick, like the sixth or seventh round, ahead of last year’s draft,” Smith relayed to Hockey News North in a recent discussion. “To me, he was as good as any (2007 birth year) defenseman in the Great North. The fact the Flint got him in the 13th round is an absolute steal.”
Originally from Wawa, Ontario, Fellinger and his family moved to Sault Ste. Marie several years ago.
At any rate, following is the list of 11 players from the Great North who were taken at the 2023 OHL priority selections draft. And as previously noted, Fellinger was the 10th of the 11 and the only to make it to the OHL as a regular thus far.
• Forward Hudson Chitaroni of the Soo Jr. Greyhounds was picked by the Sudbury Wolves in the third round.
• Sudbury Under 16 Nickel Capitals defenseman Alexandre Valade was taken by the Mississauga Steelheads in the fourth round.
• Goalie Nathan Maguire of the Soo Jr. Greyhounds was selected by the Flint Firebirds in the seventh round.
• Hard working, good sized winger Cole Dubowsky of the Sudbury Under 16 Nickel Capitals was taken by the Barrie Colts in the seventh round.
• Declan Gallivan, a 6-foot-1 defender, was taken by the North Bay Battalion in the seventh round from the Soo Jr. Greyhounds.
• High scoring forward Brendan Cooke of the Soo Jr. Greyhounds was taken by the Flint Firebirds in the eighth round.
• Good size forward, Deven Jones McDonald was picked by the Oshawa Generals in the 11th round from the Soo Jr. Greyhounds.
• Pint sized forward Max Campbell of the Sudbury Under 16 Nickel Capitals was nabbed by the Erie Otters in the 12th round.
• Smart, steady. medium size defenseman Candon O’Neill of the Soo Jr. Greyhounds was chosen by the Saginaw Spirit in the 12th round.
• The aforementioned Rylan Fellinger of the Soo Jr. Greyhounds was picked by the Flint Firebirds in the 13th round.
• Big defenseman, Cole Ellis of the Timmins Majors was taken by the Kingston Frontenacs in the 15th round.