Mix of Rossetto, Garden

June 20, 2024

Every year seems to yield a steal as far as Ontario Hockey League draft picks go. Two from the 2024 OHL priority selections draft who just might end up being swindles are smaller size forwards Nik Rossetto of the Brantford Bulldogs and Ethan Garden of the Windsor Spitfires.

Both went later than projected at this year’s draft as there were strong indications that they were leaning towards the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association route as opposed to the OHL. Rossetto was considered less of a gamble considering that he is from Ontario and grew up watching the OHL.

Nik Rossetto

At any rate, both Rossetto and Garden are now signed, sealed and delivered to their respective OHL teams. And to be sure, there is a lot to like about both players, their hockey intelligence and overall skill levels.

Rossetto, who is a Sault Ste. Marie product, and Garden, who is from the Metro Detroit area, are similar in moderate size and major skill set. And both lit it up with their respective AAA level Under 16 teams in 2023-2024, Rossetto with the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins and Garden with Detroit Little Caesars.

Brantford general manager Matt Turek went to great lengths in praising the ability, character and potential of Rossetto.

“Nik is a tremendously skilled player that we feel can be a real difference maker for the Bulldogs going forward. Nik possesses an elite release and shot combination that immediately makes him a player that opposing defenses have to keep tabs on,” Turek began.

“Nik also brings a strong desire to continue to develop his all around game and a commitment to making his team better that shows the high character level that we covet with the Bulldogs,” summed up Turek.

As for Rossetto himself, he relayed to Hockey News North that he is “excited to get started with the Bulldogs. I have got a lot of work ahead of me but I am going to do my best to not let them down.”

An electrifying forward, Rossetto became that gamble of a pick by Brantford in the third round of the ’24 OHL priority selections draft. With so much interest from major Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association schools and indications that he might be headed that way, Rossetto dropped from being a projected first rounder to the third round, where Brantford took a chance on him.

And that gamble or chance or whatever it may termed has since paid off for Brantford with the signing of Rossetto.

After playing all of his minor hockey at home, Rossetto left Sault Ste. Marie for Pittsburgh last fall to play in the Jr. Penguins Under 16 AAA elite program.  The 5 foot 8, 160 pound Rossetto sparked all Jr. Penguins in scoring during the ’23-24 regular season with 47 goals, 27 assists, 74 points in 53 games. 

Ethan Garden

As for Garden, he might have been a top two rounds pick at the ’24 priority selections draft if it was a virtual certainty that the Michigan born centre would commit to play in the OHL.

But with no such assurance, Garden lasted until the ninth round when Windsor made the Little Caesars scoring sensation the 164th pick of the ’24 OHL priority selections process.

After taking a low risk chance on Garden in the ninth round, Spitfires general manager Billy Bowler referred to the 5 foot 7, 160 pound skater as a “high end talent. He is a skilled forward and he could be considered a steal if he shows up to play for us in Windsor.”

Well, show up in Windsor he did as Garden officially signed a standard OHL educational package contract earlier this month. The youngster said he made his decision to bypass U.S. college hockey for Windsor and the OHL after being thoroughly impressed with Bowler as the GM, the Spitfires as an organization, and its history of player development.

To be sure, Garden was a prolific presence for Little Caesars over the course of the ’23-24 season with 43 goals, 49 assists, 92 points in 58 games for the Detroit elite squad.

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