If Ryan Suzuki has as good of a junior hockey career as his older brother is currently enjoying, the Barrie Colts will be ecstatic.
The Colts selected the younger brother of Owen Sound Attack star Nick Suzuki with the first overall pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft on April 8.
Nick broke out for 45 goals and 96 points to climb up the 2017 NHL Draft ranks and the Colts believe they have a special player in Ryan.
He recorded 59 points (19 goals and 40 assists) in 32 games with the Jr. Knights, who won the Alliance championships and reached the OHL Cup semifinals under his leadership. For his efforts, he was named Alliance player of the year.
The OHL Central Scouting report says he sees the ice better than most in his age group and “makes plays that a lot of people don’t see developing from the stands.”
Barrie selected first overall for the first time since 2011, when they landed eventual first overall NHL Draft pick and rookie of the year Aaron Ekblad, who was granted exceptional status to enter the draft as a 15-year-old.
The Guelph Storm followed with the second pick in this year’s draft and didn’t hesitate to take Oakland Jr. Grizzlies forward Tag Bertuzzi, who’s father Todd played with the Storm before embarking on an 18-year NHL career.
OHL Central Scouting says he brings a good mix of skill and physicality while playing with an edge like his dad. Reports go on to say that the younger Bertuzzi has a “pro type shot already that is accurate and that he releases very quickly.”
With Oakland, Bertuzzi was a point-per-game player with 50 (21 goals and 29 assists) in 49 games while adding 85 penalty minutes as well.
Brandon Coe was next off the board, going third to the North Bay Battalion. The 6-foot-3 power forward from the Toronto Nationals was the first GTHL player to be taken.
He led the Nats to the GTHL regular season title and a surprise run to the OHL Cup final.
Among his strengths are his powerful stride, heavy shot and high hockey IQ.
Coe collected 33 points (17 goals and 16 assists) in 31 games while also scoring in the OHL Cup final, where the Nats fell 3-2 to the Mississauga Reps on March 20.
After Coe was picked, six more GTHL players went in the top 10.
GTHL player of the year Nicholas Porco started off that run as the fourth overall selection by the Saginaw Spirit.
Also within that mix of GTHLers was arguably the most intriguing and risky of picks, Toronto Marlies captain Jack Hughes.
He was selected eighth overall by the Mississauga Steelheads even though he’s made his intentions of joining the United States National Team Development Program clear.
Hughes likely would have been the first overall pick if he had shown interest in committing to the OHL right away.
Still, Mississauga felt he was worth the risk in the off chance that he tests the U.S. waters for a year or two before deciding the OHL would be better for his development.
Scouts say the dynamic forward is very elusive and tough to contain and has elite stickhandling and puck skills that make him such a highly coveted playmaker.
Although Hughes hasn’t committed to an NCAA program, his older brother Quinton is set to join the University of Michigan in 2018 following a few years with the US program.
Grayson Ladd was the first defenceman taken in the draft. He landed with the Kitchener Rangers 13th overall following his minor midget season with the Chatham-Kent Cyclones.
Not too long after, Luke Cavallin from the Kemptville 73’s was the first goalie chosen in the draft. He went to the Flint Firebirds at 28th overall.
While the OHL Draft is an annual fixture, the league began what they hope is another yearly tradition with the OHL Midget Draft on April 12.
It’s intended to recognize the best Under-18 players who have been passed over through two years of eligibility in the OHL Draft.
The past few years have produced a number of players who fall under that category. Most notably are Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Cirelli and Andrew Mangiapane, who were never drafted into the OHL but earned training camp invites to the Erie Otters, Oshawa Generals and Barrie Colts before being drafted into the NHL.
Hoping to follow in those footsteps are players like defenceman Victor Hadfield from the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, Windsor Jr. Spitfires goalie James Walker and forward Ryland Mosley from the Carleton Place Canadiens.
They were the top three picks in the draft, with Hadfield going first overall to Barrie, followed by Walker and Mosley to Guelph and North Bay, respectively.
First Round Recaps
Barrie: Ryan Suzuki, C London Jr. Knights
Guelph: Tag Bertuzzi, C Oakland Jr. Grizzlies
North Bay: Brandon Coe, RW Toronto Nationals
Saginaw: Nicholas Porco, LW Vaughan Kings
Niagara: Philip Tomasino, C Mississauga Rebels
Ottawa: Graeme Clarke, RW Toronto Marlies
Sudbury: Blake Murray, C Whitby Wildcats
Mississauga: Jack Hughes, C Toronto Marlies
Sarnia: Jamieson Rees, C Mississauga Reps
Flint: Ethan Keppen, LW Toronto Nationals
Hamilton: Connor McMichael, C Ajax-Pickering Raiders
Kingston: Cody Morgan, C Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Kitchener: Grayson Ladd, D Chatham-Kent Cyclones
Mississauga: Thomas Harley, D Vaughan Kings
Oshawa: Mitchell Brewer, D Halton Hurricanes
Peterborough: Nick Robertson, C Toronto Red Wings
Windsor: Nathan Staios, D Vaughan Kings
London: Lucas Rowe, C Mississauga Reps
Sault Ste. Marie: Hayden Fowler, C Greater Kingston Frontenacs
Owen Sound: Mitchell Russell, C Barrie Jr. Colts
Erie: Emmett Sproule, C Grey-Bruce Highlanders
Barrie: Victor Hadfield, D Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs
Guelph: James Walker, G Windsor Jr. Spitfires
North Bay: Ryland Mosley, LW Carleton Place Canadiens
Saginaw: Nate Boomhower, C/RW Quinte Red Devils
Niagara: Abdul Abouzeeni, D Windsor Jr. Spitfires
Ottawa: Creed Jones, G Central Ontario Wolves
Sudbury: Emmett Serensits, D Oakville Rangers
Sarnia: Anthony Romano, RW Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Flint: James White, LW Central Ontario Wolves
Hamilton: Kyle Renaud, G Smith Falls Bears
Kingston: Gabriel Carriere, G Ottawa Jr. Senators
Kitchener: Kobe Desmond, LW Vaughan Kings
Mississauga: Cameron Gaylor, LW Don Mills Flyers
Oshawa: Mackenzie White, C Nepean Raiders
Peterborough: Eric Conley, RW Kemptville 73s
Windsor: Evan Benwell, RW Mississauga Rebels
London: Elijah Gonsalves, RW Mississauga Rebels
Sault Ste. Marie: Noah Boman, C Soo Midget Greyhounds
Owen Sound: Andre Simard, LW Pembroke Lumber Kings
Erie: Matthew Giannini, RW Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs
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