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Guelph Storm set to pick 14th overall in Saturday's OHL draft

Storm sees availability of playing time next season as a positive part of the discussion with potential draft picks
Saxon on the Storm

There will be a box of donuts for the media Saturday as the Guelph Storm drafts in a nearby room at a local hotel.

I will select the best donut available. I have not committed to plain or filled.

After I have taken that donut, before even taking a bite, I will probably announce to others in the room that I couldn't believe that donut was still available. I had it rated to go much earler.

Yes, there are several tried and true signs that spring is indeed here: waking up to bird’s singing, easter candy on the shelves and an OHL general manager telling you they will take the best player available in the first round of the draft.

It inevitably is followed up with some form of "we had him rated much higher" or "we couldn't believe he was still available."

The OHL Priority Selection kicked off with the Kingston Frontenacs selecting early entry Shane Wright first overall on Friday. The rest of the 15-round online draft goes Saturday starting at 9 a.m.

Guelph picks 14th overall in the first round and has one selection in each round.

“We’re taking the best player,” Storm coach/general manager George Burnett said, “and I think most teams would tell you the same.”

I would think the Storm goes forward with its first round pick, likely a centre.

When you look at next year’s roster, and the year after, forward depth could certainly be an issue.

Right now the only forwards pretty certain of returning would be Cam Hillis, Keegan Stevenson, Pavel Gogolev, Ty Collins, Ben McFarlane, Steve Grant and Matt Papais.

On defence they have Owen Lalonde, Daniil Chayka, Zack Terry and Luke Profaca.

Overage candidates as it stands are Anthony Popovich, Cedric Ralph, Zach Roberts, Fedor Gordeev and Liam Hawel. There is a chance any of those could pursue other options.

Of course things could also be swayed by whatever they plan to do in the import draft, where they are likely picking up two players this year.

“When you’re drafting in the first third of the draft you’re probably doing more fact-to-face meetings, but we’ve actually, despite picking at 14, we’ve had a lot of face-to-face meetings and we’ve had a lot of kids in,” said Burnett.

“We’ve talked to many, many, many kids and families and will continue to do that right up until Saturday.”

Choosing at 14 (Guelph has never picked 14th) can see the landscape change in a hurry.

“You’re never quite sure what happens at 14 because if one or two Americans get taken or there’s one or two bumps along the road can throw the entire thing off,” Burnett said.

“We’re going to get a good player at 14 and whoever that is knows there’s a wonderful opportunity to have a significant role on our team next year.”

That could be a selling point to help attract a player to Guelph: the fact that there would be plenty of playing time available given the amount of graduates.

“It’s a different feel for our young men coming into our organization than it has been over the last two years because there's a significant opportunity available to them.”

Burnett says that’s not necessarily a selling point, but it’s certainly part of the discussion.

“Not everyone can do that,” Burnett said of making it clear the opportunity exists.