OHL still a league of choice

July 9, 2022
Shane Wright

Considering that the annual National Hockey League draft has become a global affair with players from all over the world among the select 225 who are chosen on a given year, the Ontario Hockey League again did quite well at the 2022 event.

No less than 35 players from the OHL were among the 225 from around the world who were picked through the seven rounds of the recent 2022 NHL draft that held was held in Montreal.

Kingston Frontenacs centreman Shane Wright led the way, being selected fourth overall by the Seattle Kraken. An all-around forward who has been described by many as a generational player, Wright heads to a Seattle squad that made its debut as an NHL expansion team in 2021-2022. Regular season and playoffs included over two years in the OHL with Kingston, Wright totalled 74 goals, 100 assists, 174 points in 132 games.

Saginaw Spirit defenseman Pavel Mintyukov was the next OHL’er to take the stage as the Anaheim Ducks made him a first round pick as the 10th overall selection.

The second round was a big one for the OHL with eight players selected from the 32 who had their names called. Notably, Seattle again went to the OHL in taking high scoring forward David Goyette from the Sudbury Wolves as one of the Kraken’s four picks in the second round.

Amadeus Lombardi

An example of perseverance and overcoming the odds occurred in the fourth round when the Detroit Red Wings took 5-foot-10, 165 pound centre Amadeus Lombardi from the Flint Firebirds. Lombardi, who scored 18 goals, 41 assists, 59 points in 67 regular season games for Flint in 2021-2022 before adding seven goals, eight assists, 15 points in 19 playoff matches, was a distant 13th round pick by the Firebirds at the 2019 OHL priority selections draft. The shrewd selection of Lombardi by Detroit from Flint looms as a potential off the charts steal of a deal by Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman.

A total of 82 players from Canadian Hockey League teams were taken. Besides the 35 from the OHL, there were 28 from the Western Hockey League who were chosen and another 19 from the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League who became NHL picks.

Breaking down the OHL picks by position, 23 of the 35 were forwards and 11 were defenseman with only one goalie being picked.

Notably, the North Bay Battalion led all OHL teams with five players selected, while the Guelph Storm was next with four. Soo Greyhounds had two players taken as forward Bryce McConnell-Barker went in the third round to the New York Rangers and defenseman Kirill Kudryavstev was a seventh round pick of the Vancouver Canucks. McConnell-Barker potted 24 goals for the Greyhounds in 2021-2022 while Kudryavstev came through with 43 points from his blue line post. A significance of the two selections is that the Greyhounds have now had at least one player selected at the NHL draft 16 years in a row.

Mike Dawson

The Greyhounds streak pales in comparison to that of the London Knights however. London, which had three players taken at the 2022 NHL draft has now, incredibly, had at least one player picked every year since 1969 — which is when the NHL draft first came into being. During that time, the Knights have had an all-time world record of 191 players drafted into the NHL.

Seattle, by the way, with its Sault Ste. Marie connection of 59-year old general manager Ron Francis and 49-year old Ontario scout Mike Dawson, took the most OHL players at this year’s draft with five. Francis (Soo Greyhounds) and Dawson (Kingston Frontenacs) are both former OHL players themselves.

Montreal also took a shine to OHL players by taking three, which was the second most, trailing only Seattle.

All in all, it stacks up as another good year for the OHL at the NHL draft.

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