Twenty players from across 15 different organizations were chosen in the first round of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection presented by Real Canadian Superstore on Saturday, April 4.
For the third straight year one team produced the first two selections as Toronto Jr. Canadiens teammates Ty Nelson (1st overall, North Bay) and Pano Fimis (2nd overall, Niagara) led-off the proceedings. Teammate Aidan Castle was selected 13th overall by the Oshawa Generals, giving the GTHL champion Jr. Canadiens a first round-leading three players selected.
Toronto Marlboros forward Paul Ludwinski (5th overall, Kingston), Toronto Nationals winger Zakary Lavoie (7th overall, Mississauga) and Toronto Titans flank Nicholas Moldenhauer (20th overall, Ottawa) joined the Jr. Canadiens trio to give the Greater Toronto Hockey League a total of six first round picks.
Hockey Eastern Ontario’s Kanata Lasers produced a pair of first round picks for a second straight year as defenceman Jorian Donovan (6th overall, Hamilton) and centreman Ben Bujold (19th overall, London) were both selected. Rockland Nationals forward Cedrick Guindon (10th overall, Owen Sound) would give HEO a total of three first round selections.
On a day that was strong for American programs, both the Detroit Honeybaked U15 and Detroit Compuware U15 teams produced two first round selections each.
Honeybaked forward Max Namestnikov was chosen third overall by the Sarnia Sting, making him the highest-picked Sting player from a U.S. program since Alex Galchenyuk was selected first overall back in 2010. Joining Namestnikov in the first round was teammate Spencer Sova who went five picks later to the Erie Otters at eighth overall. Sova, a Windsor, Ont. native, was the third defenceman taken in the Priority Selection.
Compuware produced a pair of first round picks at 14th and 16th overall respectively. Ryan Abraham led things off going to the Windsor Spitfires before Gavin Hayes remained in his home state two selections later when he was chosen by the Flint Firebirds.
The Sudbury Wolves selected Hawkesbury, Ont. native David Goyette out of South Kent Selects Academy at 11th overall before the Saginaw Spirit picked Nobleton, Ont. native Adam Fantilli from Kimball Union Academy with the 18th choice. The six first round selections sets a new event mark for American-based programs, eclipsing the prior record of five in 2010.
The Ontario Minor Hockey Association joined HEO with three first rounders as Whitby Wildcats forward Matthew Poitras (12th overall, Guelph), Quinte Red Devils defenceman Donovan McCoy (15th overall, Peterborough) and Southern Tier Admirals centreman Andrew LeBlanc (17th overall, Kitchener) were all selected.
The ALLIANCE rounded things out with a pair of first rounders in London Jr. Knights forward Bryce McConnell-Barker (4th overall, Soo Greyhounds) and Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs centreman Hunter Haight (9th overall, Barrie) up on the board.
Of the 20 first round selections, 18 will be eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft alongside 2019’s top OHL Priority Selection choice Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs who was granted exceptional player status a year ago. Late 2004-born defenceman Donovan McCoy (Peterborough) and highly touted forward Adam Fantilli (Saginaw) will both become eligible in 2023.
The first round saw 16 forwards and four defencemen chosen by OHL clubs.
Learn more about the 2020 first round draft class below with reports from OHL Central Scouting.
1. North Bay Battalion – Ty Nelson (Toronto Jr. Canadiens) 5.07 174Ib RD
“Ty was one of the leaders on his team this year and a big force behind their GTHL championship. He never stops competing and is a bulldog on the ice. He also finishes all his checks which makes him very hard to play against. He is an offensive threat whenever he is on the ice, especially with the puck on his stick, and averaged over a point a game this season. He possesses a very good and accurate shot from the point and also finds lanes well to get the puck on net in order to either create rebounds or score. There isn’t much he doesn’t do well and he will be a very impactful player at the next level.”
2. Niagara IceDogs – Pano Fimis (Toronto Jr. Canadiens) 5.09 155Ib RC”
Pano is the engine behind his team’s offense; constantly moving and putting pressure on the opposition with his speed and energy. Combine that with his skill and anyone can see why he was one of the most dangerous offensive players this season. He is not big in stature but he plays much bigger then he is, fearless in the corners and the dirty areas of the ice. He uses his speed and energy on the defensive side of the puck as well, always back checking and playing responsibly. Pano was the GTHL’s Player of the Year and was the leader of his team right from day one this season.”
3. Sarnia Sting – Max Namestnikov (Detroit Honeybaked U15) 5.07 167Ib LC
“Max may be the most offensively gifted and creative player in this year’s Priority Selection. He is explosive off the mark and has another gear that a lot of players don’t have. He isn’t the biggest player, but he doesn’t let that stop him, as he will battle anyone for a loose puck. His offensive tools and instincts are what really separate him from everyone else; he can make moves in tight areas and isn’t afraid of traffic either. He played a big role in his team’s success as a driving force in every game they played.”
4. Soo Greyhounds – Bryce McConnell-Barker (London Jr. Knights) 6.01 162Ib LC
“Bryce is a tall and lengthy centre that has a presence each and every time he is on the ice. He is a good skater with good overall quickness. He has good offensive skills and instincts that he used to generate a lot of his team’s offense this past season. He is always moving and putting pressure on the puck, and is a tireless worker both with and without the puck. He has all the attributes to be a very good player moving forward.”
5. Kingston Frontenacs – Paul Ludwinski (Toronto Marlboros) 5.10 154Ib LC
“Paul was the leader of his hockey team and always leads by example. He is one of the most explosive skaters in this age group and uses his speed all over the ice. His feet and his motor are always going 100MPH. He is easily one of the hardest workers in this age group. He forechecks hard, finishes his checks all over the ice and doesn’t stop until he is off. He was one of his team’s offensive leaders, averaging a point a game during the regular season. He was also a member of Team Canada at the Youth Olympics Games.”
6. Hamilton Bulldogs – Jorian Donovan (Kanata Lasers U18) 6.00 158Ib LD
“Jorian is a smooth skating, offensive-minded defenseman who is always thinking of how he can join or even sometimes lead the rush. His skating allows him to take chances all over the ice offensively, as he has the ability to recover. He is explosive off the mark and has another gear in open ice that many don’t have. He has a very good skillset that allows him to beat players one on one and make very good outlet passes. He was one of the most impactful players in the HEO this season and will do the same thing next year at the next level.”
7. Mississauga Steelheads – Zakary Lavoie (Toronto Nationals) 5.10 163Ib RW
“Zakary is one of the most dominant goal scorers in the 2004 age group. He was always a threat whenever he was on the ice and is a very smart offensive player that understands how to get open for scoring chances. He used his exceptional shot to score goals from the start to the end of the year, averaging almost a goal a game during the regular season. He has the ability to carry the puck in open ice and create offense for his teammates. He will be an offensive threat at the next level because of his smarts and natural talent.”
8. Erie Otters – Spencer Sova (Detroit Honeybaked U15) 5.11 163 LD
“Spencer has all the tools to be an elite defenseman at the next level. He has the ability to dominate the play and take over a game when he wants to. He is a powerful and strong skater that gets up to top speed quickly with great edge work and mobility. He has a hammer from the offensive blue line and moves his feet well to create lanes for himself. His coaches did a great job with his team, and he was a product of that. He will have no problem stepping up to the next level.”
9. Barrie Colts – Hunter Haight (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs) 5.09 145 RC
“Hunter is one of the players that has showed the most improvement since the beginning of the season. He has always had elite speed and skating ability, coupled with good hands and creativity with the puck that has resulted in a number of highlight reel goals this year. He led the ALLIANCE in goals during the regular season with 32 in 33 games. One of the more noticeable aspects of his game in the second half of the season was how much his compete level and willingness to go to the dirty areas had improved. He has all the skills and speed to be a very productive player moving forward.”
10. Owen Sound Attack – Cedrick Guindon (Rockland Nationals U18) 5.09 152Ib LC
“Cedrick was consistently his team’s best and most productive player over the course of the season. His great offensive instincts coupled with his skill and quickness were attributes that made him dangerous every time he was on the ice. He isn’t the biggest player but he doesn’t shy away from contact to make plays. He understands the game well on both sides of the puck and was used in every situation throughout the season. He was the top scoring 2004-born player in the HEO and was named Player of the Year.”
11. Sudbury Wolves – David Goyette (South Kent Selects Academy) 5.09 147Ib LC
“David is one of the elite offensive players in his age group. He has a great understanding of how to create offense for both himself and his team mates. Although many see him as a goal scorer and nothing but, he has proven all year that he has very good vision as well. He is most dangerous on the power play when he has the puck on his stick, and he has good timing with regards to when to attack and when to be patient. Today’s game is about skill and speed; David has both and will make an impact at the next level.”
12. Guelph Storm – Matthew Poitras (Whitby Wildcats) 5.09 149Ib RC
“Matthew kept getting better as the season progressed and was a big part of why his team had all the success that they did. He is a player that impacts a game from every angle. He is a “pass first” type of player and has elite skill, vision, and creativity that allows him to make all the players around him better. He plays in every situation for his team and doesn’t ever seem to take a shift off or a short cut when he is on the ice. He is excellent on draws; winning or scrambling the majority of them. His team was playing down the stretch and he was the driving force behind them.”
13. Oshawa Generals – Aidan Castle (Toronto Jr. Canadiens) 5.11 168Ib LW
“Aidan consistently produced for his team this season. He is a very good and powerful skater that has the ability to beat most defenders wide with his speed, and he isn’t afraid to try this against anyone. He has very good skill in and around the net and has scored some very nice goals this season. As the season went on, his game became much more consistent. He was one of the big reasons why his team won the GTHL playoffs and would have been one of the favorites heading into the OHL Cup.”
14. Windsor Spitfires – Ryan Abraham (Detroit Compuware U15) 5.07 148Ib LC
“Ryan is a highly skilled centre who is quick and elusive. He’s a good skater who gets up to top speed quickly and can create offense in a variety of ways either off the rush or off the cycle. He possesses a good shot with a quick and accurate release and is more of a shoot first type of player that isn’t afraid to shoot from anywhere. Ryan plays on the edge, getting under his opponents’ skin and getting them off their game. He plays bigger than his size indicates and wins a majority of his loose puck battles by using his entire body and a heavy stick. Has been given the opportunity to play in every situation this season and was a leading offensive player for his team.”
15. Peterborough Petes – Donovan McCoy (Quinte Red Devils) 6.00 177Ib RD
“Donovan has turned into one of the elite defensemen in his age group. His skating ability, skill, and composure with the puck are things that have separated him from the rest of the defense. He plays as well in his own end as he does when he has the puck on his stick, and this is what makes him so valuable to his team. He quarterbacks a very talented power play and has the ability to be either the passer or the shooter. Physically he is ready to make the step to the next level and he has continued to develop and get better all season long. He was the ETA’s leading scoring defensemen this season, averaging a point a game.”
16. Flint Firebirds – Gavin Hayes (Detroit Compuware U15) 6.01 156Ib RW
“Gavin is a big forward with a ton of skill and up side. Offensively he sees and understands the game well. He has size and protects the puck the well and pairs that with very good vision. He was one of the driving forces for his team offensively as he can make plays off the rush and has the ability to find the open or breaking man for a scoring chance. His skill set and creativity are his biggest assets and that coupled with his understanding of the game will make him a very good player moving forward to the next level.”
17. Kitchener Rangers – Andrew LeBlanc (Southern Tier Admirals) 5.11 156Ib LC
“Andrew is a skilled centre that drove his team all season. He led the SCTA in points and was a threat each and every time he was on the ice. He continued to demonstrate elite offensive skills and instincts, and has a great understanding of how to create time and space for himself and his teammates. He is a very good skater with good separation speed and balance. He is very good on the power play and especially good on the half wall at distributing the puck.”
18. Saginaw Spirit – Adam Fantilli (Kimball Union Academy) 6.02 180Ib LC
“Adam is a big power centre that is noticeable each and every time he is on the ice. He is a powerful skater that has elite explosiveness and has another gear going through the neutral zone. He walks around defenders as if they are standing still at times. Physically, he is much more developed than the majority of his peers, so he hits hard and always finishes his checks. His compete level, work ethic, and high end skill are what really differentiate him. He has scored some impressive highlight reel goals this season and has all the tools to be a franchise player in the OHL.”
19. London Knights – Ben Bujold (Kanata Lasers U18) 5.11 164Ib LC
“Ben is a hard-working centre that drives his line each and every time he is on the ice. He is a good skater that has good overall quickness. His work ethic and compete are by far his two biggest attributes as he is relentless on the pursuit and works hard on both sides of the puck rarely ever taking a short cut. He has a very good skill set that allowed him to average a point and a half a game this season. He is a very good penalty killer and understands how to play in all situations. He is going to be the type of player that coaches can trust to put on the ice because he has very good hockey sense and overall understanding of each type of situation.”
20. Ottawa 67’s – Nicholas Moldenhauer (Toronto Titans) 5.10 154Ib RW
“Nicholas is a goal scorer in every way possible. He has a great understanding of how to find open ice and how to create time and space for himself. His timing with regards to jumping in and out of holes is really good. He possesses a goal scorer’s shot that he can get off quickly and that is both accurate and hard. He has scored a lot this year, and his scoring started right off the bat at the Titans tournament. He is a good skater that will challenge defenders. He is a player that was always a threat and that capitalized on a good percentage of his chances.”