This one lies squarely on Soo Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis.
That is, the Greyhounds had a chance to choose local product and future world class gold medal winner Jack Matier in the first round of the 2019 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft only to — for whatever reason — opt for another defenseman.
With the 18th pick of the first round of the 2019 OHL draft, the Greyhounds were in a win-win position to select the prize, right-handed shooting Matier from the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League.
Instead, Raftis missed a golden opportunity to stay local and went for Alliston, Ontario product Jacob Holmes, leaving Matier to slip away to the Ottawa 67’s with the 21st — and final — pick of the first round.
Less than two years later, the 6-foot-4, 200 pound Matier is wearing a gold medal as a character kid and member of Team Canada, which won the recent World Under-18 International Ice Hockey Federation Championship Tournament. The 6-foot-1, 175 pound Holmes, on the other hand, did not make Team Canada.
Both young defensemen had similar rookie seasons in 2019-2020. Matier had no goals, nine assists, nine points in 56 games with the 67’s while Holmes posted 3-6-9 totals in 57 outings with the Greyhounds.
But when it came time to pick the Team Canada entry for the recently-held World Under-18 event, Matier was selected as one of eight defensemen — and one of only three from the OHL — while Holmes did not make the cut.
I am not outright saying that Matier is better than Holmes. But in this instance, Matier is world class and Holmes is not.
And really, would it have been a stretch for Raftis to stay local and take Matier over Holmes in the first round of the 2019 draft?
A head shaker, to be sure.