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OHL draft goes forward despite pandemic

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The OHL draft went forward amidst the season coming to an early end and the cancellation of the playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Oshawa Generals general manager Roger Hunt, the draft was different this year for the players, their families, and the scouts.

“For me the draft goes ahead, but for the kids getting drafted, for the families of players getting drafted, they didn’t get to experience it,” says Hunt. “The other group that I really feel bad about are the scouts that spend thousands of hours in rinks from up and down the whole eastern seaboard that don’t really get a chance to come to their prom.”

He points out the draft is the scouts “Super Bowl” and they don’t often get a chance to come together as a group, and “enjoy the fruits of their labour.”

“I felt bad for players that were drafted, families of players that were drafted, and the other one was certainly our scouts that put in countless hours, and countless miles, and snow storms and everything else, and they just never got their day,” says Hunt.

Hunt says the team went into the draft having narrowed down who they wanted, and at the end of the day, with only one pick in the first five rounds, the team knew they wanted to take the best player available.

With their first round pick, 13th overall, the Generals selected left wing Aidan Castle from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens.

In the shortened 2019-20 season, Castle posted 18 goals and 13 assists for 31 points in 34 games for the Canadiens.

“When we started to get really close to our pick, we knew that [Castle] was the guy we were going to take,” says Hunt, adding Castle was the highest ranked left winger on the Gens’ list.

Hunt believes Castle has the ability to score goals, and he played on a strong team.

“I think he makes other players around him good, I think he pushes guys, so it really was an easy pick to make, and he’s going to be an impact player in this league,” says Hunt.

The Generals didn’t pick again until the sixth round, and Hunt explains this saw the team take some more chances.

“Our sixth round pick [forward] Jake Richard was seen a lot by [our scouts], when he was up in Michigan, and I didn’t see him in person, but I saw him on tape, and I think he’s a guy that will play in the league, I think he’ll find his way in the league,” says Hunt.

With their seventh round pick, the Gens selected defenseman Blake Smith out of Oshawa. He scored one goal with 15 assists in 36 games for the Oshawa Generals Minor Hockey squad.

“We got a local flavour certainly this year, and that’s a credit to Oshawa minor hockey for developing these kids,” says Hunt.

With the rest of their picks, the Gens selected three defenseman, six forwards, and a goalie.