Good teams generally see the fruits of their labour harvested on draft day, and that rang true last month in Buffalo as the MasterCard Memorial Cup champion London Knights led the charge when a modern record-tying 48 OHL players were chosen at the 2016 NHL Draft.
The Knights led all CHL clubs with seven players selected while the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup host Windsor Spitfires set the stage for what’s sure to be another exciting season, producing a franchise record three first round picks. This marks the first time in modern draft history that two OHL clubs have each had three players chosen in the first round.
London and Windsor were joined by the Mississauga Steelheads, who had a franchise high five players chosen, in setting the pace on a busy day for the OHL.
Age-old Western Conference rivals, the Knights and Spitfires ruled the first round and injected Canadian NHL markets with star potential. London provided the first two OHL players off the board in Olli Juolevi (fifth overall, Vancouver) and Matthew Tkachuk (sixth overall, Calgary). After Mississauga’s Alexander Nylander went to Buffalo at eighth overall, the Spitfires would have their time to shine as dynamic defenceman Mikhail Sergachev (ninth overall, Montreal) and big centreman Logan Brown (11th overall, Ottawa) went two picks apart to Atlantic Division rivals.
“You hear Windsor Spitfires and you’re kind of guessing who it is, we’ve got a few guys to choose from,” said Brown with a chuckle. “Sergachev and I have some really good battles in practice and now it’s going to be even more intense.”
“We’ve got a great organization,” he continued. “Everything from coaching to management to the front office. I took a lot of big steps off the ice this year just learning with Rocky Thompson, Warren Rychel and Trevor Letowski. Those guys have all been at the NHL level and they know what it takes.”
Logan Stanley (18th overall, Winnipeg) would follow Mississauga’s Michael McLeod (12th overall, New Jersey) and Sarnia’s Jakob Chychrun (16th overall, Arizona) to round out Windsor’s first round trio before London’s Max Jones (24th overall, Anaheim) completed the London trifecta.
“It’s been a speechless couple of months here with winning the Memorial Cup and now being drafted to Anaheim,” said Jones, still processing the reality of the situation. “It’s no secret what London does in developing players for the next level. Sharing this experience with those other guys in the first round is very special and they’ve both been great for my development.”
Jones becomes the first Knights player chosen by Anaheim since the Ducks took franchise cornerstone Corey Perry 28th overall in 2003. Smiling, Jones recalled his recent encounter with Perry following London’s MasterCard Memorial Cup triumph.
“When we won the Memorial Cup I had the chance to meet him when we got back to London, but I never thought I’d be wearing the same jersey as him,” he said. “It’s pretty cool and I’m sure I’ll get to know him better down the road.”
Other Knights chosen in Buffalo included goaltender Tyler Parsons (54th overall, Calgary), speedy centreman Cliff Pu (69th overall, Buffalo), fleet-footed blueliner Victor Mete (100th overall, Montreal) and defenceman Nicolas Mattinen (179th overall, Toronto).
While the Knights put their dominance on display in the form of a 17-game winning streak to hoist the Memorial Cup in Red Deer, many feel London stands as a strong contender entering the 2016-17 season with a returning core that could feature Juolevi, Tkachuk, Jones, Parsons, Pu, Mete and others.
With the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup being hosted down the 401 in Windsor by Sergachev, Brown, Stanley and the Spitfires, OHL fans will want to circle the six meetings between the two clubs on their calendars. (Oct. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 20, Jan. 3, Feb. 24, Mar. 4)
Top flite NHL prospects are on both sides of the ice and this old OHL rivalry just got a lot more interesting.
OHL Players Selected in the 2016 NHL Draft:
(Click on a player to watch post-draft interview)
First Round (9 OHL Players):
5. Olli Juolevi (London Knights) – Vancouver Canucks
6. Matthew Tkachuk (London Knights) – Calgary Flames
8. Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads) – Buffalo Sabres
9. Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires) – Montreal Canadiens
11. Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires) – Ottawa Senators
12. Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads) – New Jersey Devils
16. Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting) – Arizona Coyotes
18. Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires) – Winnipeg Jets
24. Max Jones (London Knights) – Anaheim Ducks
Second Round (8 OHL Players):
35. Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting) – St. Louis Blues
38. Adam Mascherin (Kitchener Rangers) – Florida Panthers
39. Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters) – Chicago Blackhawks
41. Nathan Bastian (Mississauga Steelheads) – New Jersey Devils
44. Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – Tampa Bay Lightning
46. Givani Smith (Guelph Storm) – Detroit Red Wings
54. Tyler Parsons (London Knights) – Calgary Flames
58. Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters) – Tampa Bay Lightning
Third Round (6 OHL Players):
63. Markus Niemelainen (Saginaw Spirit) – Edmonton Oilers
68. Cam Dineen (North Bay Battalion) – Arizona Coyotes
69. Cliff Pu (London Knights) – Buffalo Sabres
70. Will Bitten (Flint Firebirds) – Montreal Canadiens
77. Connor Hall (Kitchener Rangers) – Pittsburgh Penguins
81. Sean Day (Mississauga Steelheads) – New York Rangers
Fourth Round (7 OHL Players):
93. Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – Anaheim Ducks
94. Jonathan Ang (Peterborough Petes) – Florida Panthers
100. Victor Mete (London Knights) – Montreal Canadiens
101. Keaton Middleton (Saginaw Spirit) – Toronto Maple Leafs
105. Evan Cormier (Saginaw Spirit) – New Jersey Devils
109. Connor Bunnaman (Kitchener Rangers) – Philadelphia Flyers
114. Riley Stillman (Oshawa Generals) – Florida Panthers
Fifth Round (7 OHL Players):
123. Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes) – Edmonton Oilers
134. Jeremy Helvig (Kingston Frontenacs) – Carolina Hurricanes
137. Jordan Sambrook (Erie Otters) – Detroit Red Wings
140. Cole Candella (Hamilton Bulldogs) – Vancouver Canucks
141. Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – New York Rangers
146. Nicholas Caamano (Flint Firebirds) – Dallas Stars
148. Christopher Paquette (Niagara IceDogs) – Tampa Bay Lightning
Sixth Round (5 OHL Players):
160. Michael Pezzetta (Sudbury Wolves) – Montreal Canadiens
164. Noah Carroll (Guelph Storm) – Carolina Hurricanes
172. Anthony Salinitri (Sarnia Sting) – Philadelphia Flyers
179. Nicolas Mattinen (London Knights) – Toronto Maple Leafs
180. Mark Shoemaker (North Bay Battalion) – San Jose Sharks
Seventh Round (6 OHL Players):
186. Stepan Falkovsky (Ottawa 67’s) – Calgary Flames
189. Austin Osmanski (Mississauga Steelheads) – Buffalo Sabres
191. Travis Barron (Ottawa 67’s) – Colorado Avalanche
194. Brett McKenzie (North Bay Battalion) – Vancouver Canucks
196. Dmitry Sokolov (Sudbury Wolves) – Minnesota Wild
202. Jacob Friend (Owen Sound Attack) – Los Angeles Kings
For full results from the 2016 NHL Draft visit www.nhl.com.