The New OHL U-18 Draft – Hot Takes – In The O’Radio



Isn’t that what Rapper Nelly said at the beginning of Country Grammar?

Ok maybe it was something more expletive than that but the point is that this post is a hot take.

This post has been done for quite a while and is just waiting for this announcement that was made on Wednesday afternoon. Perfect timing considering my articles run Thursday.

But in all seriousness, with any type of new news from any source, if you look at the positively, you will find positive things to discuss, if you look at it negatively, you will find negative things to discuss. And if you look at it critically… well you get the idea.

So lets start with the topic at hand, the OHL’s U18 Priority Draft is designed to constrict Jr A in Ontario and rid the world of the NCAA and the idea of ‘another path’ to the NHL.

If we look at it positively, you will say the OHL is providing more opportunity for midget players who may have been overlooked. Over the years a handful of players are picked from midget programs because they needed that extra year. Maybe because of a growth spurt, maybe because they are now the centre of attention compared to their minor midget season when they were the 5th best player on a loaded team or because their play just got better after a summer of tough workouts to improve their on ice performance.

Another positive is that the OHL expanded their rosters by doing this. Or did they? I think the official word will not be spoken about, but effectively you are expanding their roster by 4 players, no? Where are these 4 going to go? Or is the amount of roster spots going to remain the same and this means teams will have to drop 4 players faster?

Lots of questions can surround this topic.

If you want to look at this negatively, you can point to the fact that this undermines what a draft means. You don’t have the NHL doing a 2nd draft if you were missed the first year. You are automatically allowed to be entered and selected the next year if you work hard enough, or improve drastically enough for a team to take notice.

So if the NHL doesn’t see this need for a 2nd draft, then why does a junior league like the OHL… better yet why does the WHL not need a midget draft after their Bantam draft? Or how about the Q not needing a secondary draft…

So lets look at this critically shall we…now I am not a fan of this draft as I have bought into the notion that Hockey Canada (HC) no longer has the finger on the pulse.

There is a huge movement that is against the limitations and restrictions on players under the HC banner. And this is how we get unsanctioned leagues. Forget the notion that they claim to be Jr A and are not. Because we know that HC Jr A leagues are not Jr A…

So why now? Why introduce a midget draft now. Many different bullet points come to mind.
The OHL already picks ‘late bloomers’ in their Priority draft, so why do you need a separate draft now?

If you look at the verbiage, you see that it says you must be affiliated with a OHF Midget program to be eligible… does this mean Jr A, Jr B and US born players can not be selected in this draft? Sure seems that way… but why….

Ok going deeper into that point, it looks like the OHL is making a point to try and ‘save’ Midget hockey. Who goes to midget hockey… no one. Not scouts, they view through video, rarely live. Unless there is some double header or if a player is super outstanding who was a fringe player last year.

Is this a reaction to the success of what the CCHL has done with their CCHL2 and the HEO Midget program? Could be… Commissioner Abrams always champions how the HEO Midget program creates CCHL2 and CCHL players. Heck CCHL2 is getting D1 commits, so something is clearly working. Also, don’t forget that almost 100 players went from the HEO Midget program to CCHL1 or CCHL2 this year. That is some production in development.

So what does that success mean to the OHL? It means that the CCHL is able to develop players in their own backyard for their own leagues and able to keep their eligibility open for that dreaded NCAA… you know the Devil for Canadian hockey. Since the NCCA stands for another path not named the CHL.

So HEO midget doesn’t need protecting, because it is clearly growing.

HNO Midget is actually doing very well and producing for the NOJHL and you have some good players from Midget going to Jr A in the OJHL or going from Minor Midget to the GOJHL… oh ok, now I think we are hitting the nail on the head.

This may all be about stopping Jr A and Jr B.

More importantly you are stopping the development of players by pigeonholing them in to Midget hockey. And don’t get me wrong; if that is the path you need, then that is the path you take to get to your end goal. There is no shame in playing midget hockey at the AAA level. You are still better than most players of your age group, like 95% of your age group.

But now you are protected by an OHL team and can no longer go out of province, or out of state, or sign as a FA with a team in the Q or the W… even though you can make it. Why? Because your rights belong to an OHL club even though you may never play in the OHL.

I learned a neat statistic today, someone said that up to three quarters of the OHL made the league as a Midget player walk on or as a FA… so now you will draft 80 just because you can now control their movement?

It just doesn’t make sense and it is all about control folks. Hockey Canada is losing control on what hockey needs.

I had a convo with some people a few nights ago, and they were discussing new blood needed because we all know that unsanctioned leagues are not going away, and their quality is not comparable, but they are a necessary evil because they fill a demand right now. And that is the sad part.

What is the saying, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face… maybe HC has chopped off too much in trying to save or create an importance for Midget hockey in the province of Ontario.