21 players from 16 different organizations were chosen in the first round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection on Saturday April 8.
The GTHL’s Vaughan Kings led the way with three players selected in the first round including forward Nicholas Porco who was chosen fourth overall by the Saginaw Spirit, defenceman Thomas Harley who was selected 14th overall by the Mississauga Steelheads and blueliner Nathan Staios who went 17th to the Windsor Spitfires.
The OHL Cup champion Mississauga Reps joined other GTHL teams in the Toronto Nationals and Toronto Marlboros as other clubs with multiple players taken in the opening 20 selections.
Talented centreman Jamieson Rees was chosen ninth overall by the Sarnia Sting while Reps teammate Lucas Rowe followed at 18th overall to the London Knights.
The OHL Cup Finalist Nationals saw power forward Brandon Coe taken third overall by the North Bay Battalion before physical winger Ethan Keppen was chosen 10th overall by the Flint Firebirds.
The Toronto Marlboros had a pair of high-end talents chosen in close proximity, with goal-scoring winger Graeme Clarke going sixth overall to the Ottawa 67’s before star centreman Jack Hughes was taken eighth overall by the Mississauga Steelheads.
GTHL talent comprised 12 of the 20 players selected in the first round, with seven different GTHL clubs represented.
A run of 12 consecutive forwards were selected to open the 2017 OHL Priority Selection before Chatham-Kent Cyclones rearguard Grayson Ladd was the first defenceman chosen, going 13th overall to the Kitchener Rangers. Defencemen Thomas Harley of the Vaughan Kings (14th, Mississauga Steelheads), Mitchell Brewer of the Halton Hurricanes (15th, Oshawa Generals) and Nathan Staios of the Vaughan Kings (17th, Windsor Spitfires) followed in close succession.
Four American players were selected in the first round including Oakland Jr. Grizzlies forward Tag Bertuzzi (2nd, Guelph Storm), Toronto Marlboros centreman Jack Hughes (8th, Mississauga Steelheads), Vaughan Kings defenceman Thomas Harley (14th, Mississauga Steelheads) and Toronto Red Wings forward Nick Robertson (16th, Peterborough Petes).
The first round saw 17 forwards and four defencemen taken by OHL clubs.
Learn more about the 2017 first round draft class below with reports from OHL Central Scouting.
1. Barrie Colts – Ryan Suzuki (London Jr. Knights) 6.00 160Ib. C
“Ryan is one of the most skilled players in this year’s Priority Selection. He is the type of player that makes everyone around him better. Ryan is an unselfish player that sees the ice better than most in this age group. He makes plays that a lot of people don’t see developing from the stands and his passes are usually tape-to-tape. He is a good skater with the ability to beat players off the rush. He is dangerous every time he is on the ice. Ryan will be an offensive force in the OHL.”
2. Guelph Storm – Tag Bertuzzi (Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 16U) 6.01 190Ib. C
“Tag is a big, skilled centre that almost every team is looking to add to their roster. He has a good combination of size and skill, like his father Todd, he plays with an edge to his game. Tag has a good skill set and always wants to have the puck on his stick. He is very creative and does a lot of things most players don’t even attempt to do. He has a pro shot that he can get away quickly. His shot is one of his biggest weapons and he isn’t afraid to use it.”
3. North Bay Battalion – Brandon Coe (Toronto Nationals) 6.03 166Ib. RW
“Brandon is a big power forward with high-end skill. When he is playing a physical style, there is no one in the age group that compares. He has a long, powerful stride that allows him to reach top speed quickly. Brandon is more of a pass first type of player and has the ability to make passes that you don’t expect him to make. He possesses a heavy shot that he gets off extremely fast. Brandon has a high hockey I.Q. and always seems to be in the right spot at the right time.”
4. Saginaw Spirit – Nicholas Porco (Vaughan Kings) 6.00 152Ib. LW
“Nicholas is a one of the best wingers in this age group. He is explosive off the mark and has top-end speed that many have trouble keeping up with. He uses his edges very well and is hard to contain in the corners. Nicholas has a very good skill set that allows him to create numerous chances each game. He is not an overly physical player, but he won’t shy away from a battle in the corner or in front of the net. Nicholas has all the tools to be an impact player in the OHL.”
5. Niagara IceDogs – Philip Tomasino (Mississauga Rebels) 5.10.25 164Ib. C
“Philip is a hard working, skilled centre that never gives up on a play. He has explosive speed with the ability to change gears in mid-stride and is always moving his feet and putting pressure on the opposition. He has very good one-on-one skills and is dangerous whenever he has the puck. Philip has a good shot with a quick release that catches some goalies by surprise. He plays a complete game and is reliable in every situation.”
6. Ottawa 67’s – Graeme Clarke (Toronto Marlboros) 5.11 163Ib. RW
“Graeme is a goal-scorer. He possesses one of the better shots in this year’s class. It’s a hard, accurate release that he seems to be able to get off from anywhere in the offensive zone. He is a very good skater when at full stride and should improve as he gets stronger. He is very creative with the puck and has good offensive instincts as the puck always seems to find him on the ice. He is a smart offensive player that doesn’t put himself in bad positions.”
7. Sudbury Wolves – Blake Murray (Whitby Wildcats) 6.01.5 177Ib. C
“Blake is a big centre that has the ability to take over a game when he wants to. He is a powerful skater that is explosive off the mark. He has the ability to beat defenders wide with speed and takes the puck to the net with authority. Blake makes the players around him better and is a constant threat on the ice. He shoots the puck extremely well and isn’t afraid to use his shot. He’s the type of big centreman that any coach would love to have and if he continues to develop he will be a dominant player at the next level.”
8. Mississauga Steelheads – Jack Hughes (Toronto Marlboros) 5.08.5 151Ib. C
“Jack is one of the most dynamic forwards in this year’s Priority Selection. He is an excellent skater that uses his edges well and is very elusive and hard to contain. His stickhandling and overall puck skills are elite and he creates offence each and every time he is on the ice. Jack is a pass first type of player. He thinks the game on a different level than most. He anticipates plays well and always seems to be a step ahead. Overall Jack is one of the most exciting players in this year’s Priority Selection.”
9. Sarnia Sting – Jamieson Rees (Mississauga Reps) 5.08.75 158Ib. C
“Jamieson is one of the elite players in this year’s Priority Selection. He is a skilled center that is dangerous every time he has the puck on his stick. He is a good skater with deceptive speed and he always manages to win races to loose pucks. He is dangerous off the rush with his speed and uses elusive one-on-one moves and great vision to make plays. Jamieson makes all the players around him better. He shoots the puck very well with a quick release and can pick corners with accuracy.”
10. Flint Firebirds – Ethan Keppen (Toronto Nationals) 6.02 195Ib. LW
“Ethan is a prototypical power forward. He has very good size with a powerful stride that allows him to reach top speed quickly. He goes up and down his wing crashing and banging into everything. Ethan creates room for his linemates and goes to the net hard for rebounds and loose pucks. He is a complete player that takes care of his own end and is relied on in all key situations. There isn’t a hit that he turns away from. He competes hard for loose pucks and forechecks effectively.”
11. Hamilton Bulldogs – Connor McMichael (Ajax-Pickering Raiders) 5.09 151Ib. C
“Connor is one of the top players in this year’s class. He is a skilled centre that is dangerous every time he is on the ice. He is deceivingly quick and has very good separation speed. His pucks skills are elite and he has great one-on-one moves. Connor is a threat whenever he has the puck on his stick. He sees the ice better than most do at this age and has the ability to find the open man and put the puck in a position for that player to get a good chance.”
12. Kingston Frontenacs – Cody Morgan (Toronto Jr. Canadiens) 5.10.75 170Ib. C
“Cody is a skilled centre that generates the majority of his team’s offence. He is a smart player that always seems to be in position and the puck tends to follow him. He has a good skating stride and accelerates well. He has good puck skills and can stick handle effectively in small spaces and still make very good plays to create scoring chances. He shoots the puck very well but is more of a pass-first type of player always looking to set up his teammates.”
13. Kitchener Rangers – Grayson Ladd (Chatham-Kent Cyclones) 6.02 160Ib. RD
“Grayson had an interesting year. He had an injury at the beginning of the season and flew under the radar at the beginning of the season. He opened a lot of eyes at the Toronto Marlboros Christmas tournament with his strong play. He has good size and mobility with a very complete skill set. He’s going to log a lot of minutes just by virtue of his skating ability and he should be able to step into the OHL next year and have success. He is the prototypical modern defenceman who skates well and moves the puck effectively.”
14. Mississauga Steelheads – Thomas Harley (Vaughan Kings) 6.02 154Ib. LD
“A Syracuse, New York product, Thomas is a big defenceman that has a presence when he is on the ice. He is a fluid skater with good mobility which he uses to beat forecheckers and move the puck up the ice. He loves to have the puck on his stick and he has the skill to make difficult plays look easy. His game really took off in the second half of the season when his team had numerous injuries and he was relied on heavily to carry the load. He has a heavy shot and is always looking to get the puck to the net.”
15. Oshawa Generals – Mitchell Brewer (Halton Hurricanes) 5.10.5 189Ib. LD
“Mitchell is a solid and versatile defenceman that logs a ton of minutes for his team. He is a powerful skater with a low centre of gravity that makes him very explosive. Mitchell passes the puck very well with crisp outlet passes and makes good decisions on the offensive blue line when it comes to shoot or pass. He is very strong in his own zone and uses his physical strength to win battles. Mitchell plays in every situation and is one of the toughest players to play against in this age group.”
16. Peterborough Petes – Nick Robertson (Toronto Red Wings) 5.06 130Ib. RW
“Nick is a skilled forward who always wants to have the puck. He isn’t the biggest forward out there, but he makes things happen with the puck and when he has it, the opposition takes note. He has a real nose for the net and likes to shoot the puck when he has the opportunity. He is the younger brother of Kingston Frontenacs winger Jason Robertson.”
17. Windsor Spitfires – Nathan Staios (Windsor Spitfires) 5.08 150Ib. LD
“Nathan is a mobile defender with good puck skills that plays with a ton of confidence. He battles and competes hard each and every shift and plays way bigger than his size. He possesses a heavy shot from the blue line and he uses his mobility to find the open lane to the net. He played in every situation for his team this season and came back strong from injury, getting better with each game he played. Nathan was a big reason why Vaughan enjoyed the playoff success that they did.”
18. London Knights – Lucas Rowe (Mississauga Rebels) 5.10 167Ib. C
“Lucas is a powerful skating centre that is always putting pressure on the opposition with his speed. He loves to have the puck on his stick and has the ability to beat players off the rush with his great outside speed. He does a good job of finding open ice in the offensive zone and when he gets the puck it’s not on his stick very long before he lets go of a quick release. Lucas is a fierce competitor that will go anywhere on the ice for a loose puck or to battle for the puck.”
19. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – Hayden Fowler (Greater Kingston Frontenacs) 5.08.75 166Ib. C
“Hayden is one of the top prospects in the ETA this year. He is one of the most dynamic skaters and uses his edges better than anyone. He is explosive off the mark and can change gears in mid-stride. His one-on-one skills are impressive and help him make many defenders look silly. Hayden is a team-player with great vision and playmaking abilities. He is always looking to set up teammates when the opportunity arises. He has a very high hockey I.Q. and is always in the right spot at the right me.”
20. Owen Sound Attack – Mitchell Russell (Barrie Jr. Colts) 5.09.75 182Ib. C
“Mitchell uses his skating and skill to take over games when he decides to. He is explosive off the mark and can beat most defenders with his speed. He shoots the puck well and has a quick release which surprises many goaltenders. Mitchell has the ability to play both centre and wing as he uses his speed is all three zones. He is physically ready to play at the next level and isn’t afraid to lay the body in all three zones. He is used in all situations and is very effective on the power play.”
21. Erie Otters – Emmett Sproule (Grey-Bruce Highlanders) 5.08.5 135Ib. C
“Emmett elevated his game in big moments toward the end of the season. He became more and more noticeable as the year progressed, showing a lot of confidence with the puck on his stick. He was the big reason Grey-Bruce made it into the OMHA Championships and had a Wild Card Play-In game at the 2017 OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour. The Highlanders’ offence ran through him and his increasing confidence level in the second half of the season got people’s attention.”