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OHL Prospects Choose Where They Want To Play
April 6, 2012 11:26 AM
I recently read an article in the Toronto Star stating how difficult it is for some teams to try and rebuild when they can't get their draft prospects to play in their city. The example they used was with Doug Gilmour and the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, and Max Domi. Domi did not want to play in Kingston and requested a trade to the London Knights of the OHL. Domi said that if not traded, he would play either in the Tier I Junior loop or move to the USHL another great junior league in the United States.

Being a former OHL draft prospect and going through the draft, it is difficult for me to understand why players won't play in certain cities or for certain teams. These players should feel privileged that they are being selected and should want to go to the team that needs their help. Isn't the point of being a good player challenging yourself game in and game out to be the best player you can be to help your team win?

I can recall another player, Eric Lindros, who didn't want to play for the Sault Greyhounds and requested a trade to the Oshawa Generals. He then requested a trade from the Quebec Nordiques when he was drafted to the NHL. Where does this end and how does a team rebuild?

I think to myself, if I was a coach or a scout and I was watching a player on a poor team dominate, I would almost give him a higher rating then a player on a good team who is dominating. I think moves like these from players and agents really show how the hockey world is changing. Players want a sure thing and to be on a team where they make the playoffs, play with other great players and have great stats. These are all valid concerns, but if the OHL is about developing a player, they should make him experience going through a rebuild because it will not only mentally prepare him for professional hockey but also prepare him for being selected by a possible last place team in the NHL and being able to help turn the franchise around.

Consider the Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Blackhawks in recent years. Both teams were battling in the basement for years in the NHL. The Penguins were weeks away from getting sold and moving out of Pittsburgh, but along came Crosby, Malkin and Fleury, all first round pics that basically rejuvenated the team and have now made it one of the most successful franchises in the last 5 years and one of the most exciting to watch. Chicago is another example of a team who used draft picks to rebuild and win a cup.

I know players times in Junior A are short lived and the best players may only get 2 or 3 years in the league before they move on to a professional career so they don't have time to wait to rebuild a franchise, but as a top player, I would want to go to a team where I knew I could contribute and help turn around. That in itself would be a great challenge for me. I know there are consequences, for instance, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. Taylor made the memorial cup and was able to get more exposure and was one of the reasons why he went first overall to Edmonton instead of Tyler however, I think Tyler has had the better of the career so far in the NHL. A Stanley Cup isn't bad in your 1st year.

Food for thought. How many 3rd - 7th round kids would die for the opportunity to play for any of the OHL teams with a legitimate chance to get a lot of ice time whether the team is good or bad? Some do, and these are the players you never hear of, but make the NHL and all of a sudden they are a Cinderella story because they were never drafted high or at all in junior or to the NHL but are now making their mark as top professional players.

Players should want to play hockey at the best level possible and on the team that wants them. Scouts always say, If you are a good player you will stand out and we will find you, or at least that's what the scouts want you to think, but it seems like it doesn't really work that way.

To read the Toronto Star Article, click on the link below
http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/juniorhockey/article/1156632--cox-ohl-draft-being-run-by-top-kids-not-the-league
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