The Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft took place Saturday morning, and the Knights used their first pick in the draft to select right-defenseman Evan Bouchard from the Oakville Rangers.
This draft marked the year of the 99’s, the last set of young talent before the millennial teens come in next year.
The newest member of the London Knights stands at a sizeable 6’1.5″ and 172 pounds. Bouchard’s birthday is October 20th, 1999, which means that he won’t be in the same NHL draft class as most of his other fellow draftees due to the cut-off for the draft landing in September. So basically, if he makes the big club next year, the Knights will get at least 3 years out of him.
Bouchard had 18 goals and 31 points in 35 games with 41 penalty minutes for Oakville this season. He is considered to be an all-around defenseman who can be used in any situation. He’s not known to use his body too much, but will if he needs to. He’s a responsible defenseman who thrives on the powerplay (cue his 18 goals). He’s a great passer, and could be the ‘first-pass’ guy the Knights have been looking for to go alongside rushing d-man Victor Mete.
In the second round the Knights used the 26th overall pick to select centerman Robert Thomas of the York Simcoe Express. The Aurora native stands at a smaller framed 5’9″, and had 45 points in 34 games this year.
In the third round London selected right winger Finn Evans 60th overall. Evans is tall at 6’1.5″ but has some filling out to do at 156 pounds. From Toronto, he played for the Mississauge Rebels this season, scoring 18 goals and 43 points in 65 games. All three of the first Knights selected scored 18 goals this season… just a weird coincidence I guess.
Seven picks later the Knights took St. Louis, MO native Brady Tkachuk. Son of former NHL star Keith Tkachuk, he had 43 points in 30 games for the AAA Midget St. Louis Blues this season. He stands at 5’9.5″, 146 pounds. The Knights actually drafted his brother Matthew in 2013.
With their third selection within ten picks the Knights took Ian Blacker at 70th overall. According to Michael Stubbs of AM1290 CJBK, Blacker may take the NCAA route instead of playing with the Knights. The 6’4″, 190 pound defenseman had 15 points in 27 games for the Brampton 45’s this year. He hails from Oakville.
In round 5 the Knights took Cole Tymkin 91st overall. The right winger had impressive stats with the Thunder Bay Kings; he garnered 26 goals, 64 points, and 66 penalty minutes in 49 games. Nearly 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, he’ll be an interesting team to keep an eye on.
The Knights made nine more selections before day’s end;
Rd. 6 / 116th overall / Max Vinogradov – RW – London, ON – London Jr. Knights
Rd. 6 / 120th overall / Jeff Clarke – LD – Komoka, ON – Elgin Middlesex Chiefs
Rd. 8 / 156th overall / Alex Turko – C – London, ON – London Jr. Knights
Rd 9. / 176th overall / Marc Shannon – C – Hamilton, ON – Hamilton Huskies
Rd. 10 / 196th overall / Jordan Di Cicco – LD – London, ON – London Jr. Knights
Rd. 11 / 216th overall / Alex Formenton – LW – King City, ON – Mississauga Rebels
Rd. 13 / 256th overall / Sean Dhoogee – C – Aurora, IL – Chicago Mission
Rd. 14 / 276th overall / Liam Dennison – LD – Manitock, ON – Don Mills Flyers
Rd. 15 / 295th overall / Jacob Golden – LD – Toronto, ON – Mississauga Rebels
Other notable picks in the draft included;
The Sudbury Wolves, who ended the year with an abysmal 12-54-2 (26 points, half of second to last Windsor’s 52 points) drafted right wing David Levin first overall. The 5’10, North York native spent the year with the Don Mills Flyers, the same AAA organization that Knight’s captain Max Domi emerged from. The most interesting thing about Levin is that he was actually born and raised in Israel. He moved to Canada at the age of 12, only playing organized hockey here for the last 3 years. According the Sudbury Wolves website, he learned his skills by playing inline hockey in Israel. His birthday is September 16th, just over the cut-off date for the 2017 NHL draft, so he, like Bouchard, will be eligible in 2018.
Two Londoners were also taken in the first round. The Owen Sound Attack selected center Nick Suzuki 14th overall, and Guelph used their 15th overall pick on towering 6’4″ left winger Isaac Ratcliffe.
Also taken in the draft at eight 8th overall was left wing Matthew Strome. The third of the Strome brothers was taken by the new Hamilton franchise. His brothers are Ryan (7th overall in the 2012 NHL draft to the Islanders) and Dylan (projected top 5 pick in this year’s NHL draft).
That sums up the 2015 OHL draft and all of the future it holds, but right now the Knights are in a battle with the Erie Otters in the second round of the OHL playoffs. Connor McDavid’s Otters hold a 2-0 series lead heading into tonight’s game in London, where the Knights may be without their two best players in Mitch Marner and Max Domi, who are battling injuries.