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The OHL Draft is a fine-tuned event put on every year by the Ontario Hockey League.

Players picked in the draft at the end of their 15 year-old season are immediately eligible to play in the league in the fall of that year.

How the Draft Works

At the beginning of April each spring, the 15-round Ontario Hockey League Draft is held over the Internet, live, as teams select players who have just completed their 15 year-old year.

Potential OHL draft picks are followed closely by Ontario Hockey League central scouting. Central scouting’s purpose is to identify potential players and be double-verify players for before the Ontario Hockey League draft. In other words, a team can stumble upon a player because of central scouting’s report and then watch him. Likewise, a team may already like a player and want a second opinion from the service. The service also collects stats and makes lists for publication.

If you are looking to be seen by scouts, a perfect opportunity is the OHL Cup. It’s a showcase tournament specifically for first year midget players (15). Do well at this tournament and you’re bound to be seen. Over half of the players in the OHL have played in this tournament, many picked in the OHL draft. It’s sole purpose is for scouting.

If you are selected in the Ontario Hockey League draft, you will be place on the team’s 50 player protected list. That fall you’ll attend camp as a 16 year-old. Each team may take a maximum of four sixteen year olds, but usually no less than two. The number of four gets broken down—the first and second pick from the spring draft and two additional picks can be signed.

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Players not selected in the OHL draft have the option to return to midget or try their hand in lower Ontario Aqua Green Youth Dolphins Color Stills Limited Team Untouchable Jersey Vapor 10 Stitched Kenny Football, such as the OJHL, CCHLBowl Red College 2014 Jersey Patch Discover Orange 33 Stitched Buckeyes, NOJHL and SIJHL. It’s common for about one-third of Major Junior rosters to be made up of undrafted players. It’s just takes them a little longer to get there. The sooner you can get on a protected list the better. You’ll be able to earn more scholarship money if you player earlier and also be seen in more games by more NHL scouts .

Ontario Hockey League Draft

Players who make it

The Ontario Hockey League has the most fights of any CHL league, but it is far from a league of goons. Talent is generally balanced between offense and defense, finesse and crash and bang. There is room for every type of player in this league. If you’re a solid bantam and midget played in Ontario, you will be seen by scouts long before the draft.

Nearly all players come from Ontario and the USA, with the exception of the standard amount of European imports and transfers. It is common for American players to be selected in the OHL draft. It is often the perfect age to pick them since they are just becoming eligible for NCAA scholarships. With hockey hotbeds like Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania nearby, and three American teams in the league, recruiting American players is not uncommon. In fact, high-drafted NHL picks have left college enough to play in the Ontario hockey league that NCAA coaches have even complained.

Here is a breakdown of where the 302 OHL draft picks came from in 2012:

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Region # of Picks % of Picks
GTHL 70 23%
USA 49 16%
Alliance 46 15%
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NOHA Jersey Vols Stitched College Limited Orange Witten 1 11 4%
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Other 4 1%

In total, 147 players (49%) played in the OHL Cup. Bear in mind that 16% of players drafted were American and don’t compete in that tournament. It’s an important scouting event.

Education and “Best of Both Worlds”

The Ontario Hockey League has a top-notch scholarship program. The gist is play a year, get a year, which the league touts as getting “the best of both worlds.” Hockey and school.

While the scholarship is pretty straightforward, there are a couple of changes that can happen to yours:

You can earn up to five years playing in the ‘O’, but to do this you would likely have to be taken in the OHL draft. If you do the math, most players good enough to make it a 16 likely have a pro career waiting for them after junior, so not a ton of five-years exist. For guys who do try pro and don’t see it as viable, they can take their school to the CIS. Players have an 18-month window to test pro before losing their scholarship.

It’s a fair and standard deal.

League Play

The jump from midget through the Ontario Hockey League draft is a swift one. Players will play a 68-game schedule. This is the best major junior league for road trips, but there will still be some long nights on the bus and sleep-deprived mornings at school.

After exhibition games, the season begins the third week of September. The first big event for the league occurs in November when the Super Series with Russia rolls through after playing games in Quebec. There is also the CHL Top Prospects game in January where the top 40 draft eligible players from across the country meet for the roughest all-star game you’ll find in hockey. Players who make this game stand a very high chance of being drafted to the NHL.

Sixteen teams end up making the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, with the other four going home early. These four teams will have the top picks in the OHL draft in the spring.

Jersey Vols Stitched College Limited Orange Witten 1 The OHL draft happens in June after playoffs, which kick off at the end of March. The top team goes to the Memorial Cup at the end of May.

Notes and Tips

If you’re going to camp and even have half a shot at making a team, make sure you have an up-to-date passport. It can take months for a passport application to go through and you’ll need it to cross the border in this league.

The only players who can play in the league before the OHL draft have “exceptional player status.” If you get this status you’re the next Jason Spezza, John Tavares or Connor McDavid.

If you don’t get taken in the Ontario Hockey League draft or you don’t make a team that fall, you have many options. Ontario has a ton of leagues that get scouted, including midget AAA, Junior A and even some Junior B leagues.

May 21, 2013

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About Nick Olynyk

Nick Olynyk is a Canadian junior hockey expert and author of the Jersey Vols Stitched College Limited Orange Witten 1 Junior Hockey Truth, a book series for parents of bantam and midget hockey players approaching junior hockey.

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