The Guelph Storm will not make the playoffs for the first time in 24 years. Thank heaven.
Now the charade of thinking this team might actually be good enough to make the post season has been snuffed out, the team can focus on what really matters: the draft and sorting out the coaching and general manager situation.
There’s a new magic number in town and that number is 12.
Any combination of Guelph dropping 12 points or the Sudbury wolves earning 12 points will officially guarantee the Storm the first overall pick in the OHL priority draft in April.
Guelph hasn’t picked first overall since it took some pug named Jeff O’Neill. And while the Storm is a team badly in need of an infusion of the high end talent that a first round pick will bring, the draft has to be looked at as a whole, not just the top pick.
Good drafts build teams. Not a good pick.
O’Neill was undoubtedly the key ingredient of some excellent Storm teams that followed, but that same 1992 draft also had Guelph pick seven other players who would go on to play at least 100 OHL games, including Regan Stocco, Rumn Ndur, Mike Rusk and Mark McArthur,
The 2014 Memorial Cup final team didn’t get there just because Matt Finn was a great first round pick, it got there because that same draft brought them Brock McGinn, Scott Kosmachuk and Zach Leslie.
Who the Storm takes with the top pick this year remains to be seen.
There is no Connor McDavid, Travis Konecny, Aaron Ekblad or Sean Day already identified as the top pick.
Two of the top players are Americans committed to NCAA schools: Chicago Mission defenceman Body Wilde (committed to Harvard) and Detroit Compuware centre Blade Jenkins (Michigan).
Closer to home you would likely be looking at a pair of Toronto Jr. Canadiens: offensive defenceman Ryan Merkley who has been at or near the top of everyone’s list all year, or Russian-born winger Kirill Nizhnikov.
Other rumours have Todd Bertuzzi’s son Tag applying for exceptional status. The league doesn’t reveal who has applied.
Do you make sure the player you pick is going to report or would you be content with drafting one who doesn’t report and having an extra top pick next year plus the potential to trade the guy who didn’t report?
The Storm’s biggest need is at centre and goal. But this draft is considered sub-par when it comes to goaltenders.
But when you pick first overall you don’t pick by position. Signability, perhaps, but not by position.
So going on right now is the debate over who the pick should be, the debate over whether you chose a signable player, the debate over what position that player should be.
But it’s good that the Storm is in a position that those debates need to take place.