While the Ontario Hockey League draft isn’t changing in the sense that it will remain as an online format as it has since 2001.
Due to the cancellation of the 2020-21 OHL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 OHL Priority Selection will look a little different than other years though in its virtual format.
The league announced on Wednesday morning that the draft will be held over two days, beginning on Friday, June 4.
The opening three rounds will be held on Friday with the remaining round (four through 15) held the following day, all online via the league website.
The league also announced Wednesday plans to hold a draft lottery to determine the order of the first round, which will be held on May 5 at 7 p.m.
All 20 teams will have equal chance of getting the first overall pick.
The lottery will be determined using a computerized random number generator process that will be overseen by league legal rep Robert Bayne of Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP.
After the first round, the order of the remaining rounds will be a snake style, meaning the team who selects first, will select last in the second round.
The scouting process for the draft hasn’t been an easy one for teams this season with many teams at the midget level playing a very limited number of games this season.
“Our guys have been out watching when players could play in the fall with their teams, some of that was non-contact,” Soo Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis said. “I was out in the fall wherever games were popping up; I was going to. They were groups of players that were brought together to do skill sessions and then play a game. There was more contact after the new year, but I didn’t see the amount of hockey that I normally see in a year. Structurally, it wasn’t anywhere close to what it normally is. It’s going to be difficult to gather as much information as usual, but at the same time everybody is in the same boat and we have to prep accordingly.”
With fewer games over the course of the winter, getting a complete read on eligible players hasn’t been what it would be in a normal season.
“You don’t have the same amount of watching the arc of the draft year,” Raftis said. “You get a feel for players throughout the year. We usually have our first meeting around Thanksgiving. Then you track players as they go through Christmas time and into February, which is another big tournament. We would have another meeting in January, narrow down the list and really track those players and some guys who have surprised and maybe rose a little bit. I don’t think there’s that arc to a lot of players’ years. It’s moreso getting an assessment of those views, getting some background on them and grading out their skillsets a little bit more than what it would be in a game situation because that’s what we could see. We tried to gain as much video and as many live viewings as we could. That’s been the biggest struggle because you see a player one month and then you don’t see him for two months and then you see him twice in a week. It could be four-on-four one game and five-on-five the next. It’s a little bit of not trying to make it too complicated and just seeing what’s out there and get a feel for it.”
Dates for the OHL’s annual Under-18 draft as well as the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft have not been set at this point.