Changes to OHL draft
There are some significant changes coming to the 2021 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
Unlike past years, this year’s OHL Draft will see teams select in an altered arrangement, with the order of selection in the first round being reversed to begin Round 2 and alternating each round thereafter.
Teams participating in the first round will have an equal chance of securing the first overall pick, with the order of selection to be determined by a computerized random number generator lottery process to be overseen by a legal representative.
“It’s an unorthodox year, but we feel comfortable and confident where we are at,” Niagara IceDogs general manager Joey Burke said. “The preparation has been a lot different. The uncertainty of having no idea where our picks are going to slot in is a bit of an interesting one. Not being able to watch these guys play in meaningful, actual games in the most crucial part of scouting so it’s going to be a little bit different that way.”
A draft lottery will be held Wednesday, May 5 at 7 p.m. and live streamed on the OHL YouTube channel and across social media platforms Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and covered extensively at ontariohockeyleague.com.
As well, the event will be held over the course of two days, with rounds 1-3 being held on Friday, June 4 beginning at 7 p.m. Rounds 4-15 will take place on Saturday, June 5 beginning at 9 a.m.
The IceDogs will not participate in the first round. In 2019 the OHL fined the IceDogs $250,000 and ordered the club to forfeit two first-round draft picks after a player told league investigators in 2018 that the team offered to pay him $10,000 for each of the four years he played for the team before it reneged on the agreement. The league reduced the penalty to a fine of $150,000 and one first-round draft pick after the club acknowledged it violated player recruitment rules as part of the settlement.
Burke isn’t sure how the IceDogs will be slotted into the rotation after the first round.
“We don’t know exactly how it’s going to work,” he said. “We’re waiting to hear.”
The IceDogs have a plethora of picks with two selections each in the second, third round, fourth rounds and sixth rounds.
“Fortunately, we did a great job canvassing this group (2005) as bantams,” Burke said. “We did a lot of groundwork coming into this season which is very nice to have and with the guys playing up last season you really get a good feel on the high-end guys. With all the showcases and skates and skills show offs, we really have been able to see the top 200-300 players in Ontario.”
Burke said the club will rely on video for draft-eligible American players who have been able to play this season.
“There is a ton of video on these guys. It’s not ideal not being able to see these Americans, but being able to watch the high-end U.S. programs play all season, we have a great feel that way.”
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