Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Media
Draft-eligible players across the province, including from the Quinte Red Devils, will hope to hear their names called during this weekend’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
The OHL draft begins Friday evening with rounds 1-3 and continues Saturday with the remainder of the 15 rounds.
On Thursday afternoon, the Sudbury Wolves announced they would be selecting forward Quentin Musty from the North Jersey Avalanche with the first overall pick Friday.
The Quinte Red Devils have a great track record of producing OHL draft picks. The highest player selected, it’s believed, remains Brady Gilmour in 2015 when he was chosen sixth overall by the Saginaw Spirit.
Gilmour, who is from Grafton, attended numerous OHL games growing up, including home games for the Peterborough Petes and also the former Belleville Bulls, especially during his time playing for the Red Devils.
Those experiences sparked a dream to play in the OHL and he followed the league’s draft in 2015 at home with his parents Troy and Shannon and brother Austin.
“I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going to go. I knew it was kind of going to be around that range (in the top 10),” Gilmour recalls. “It was a pretty cool experience and I got a lot of support from everyone around and people that have been around me since I was pretty little and growing up. Still to this day, a lot of them support me and follow me. I’m proud of where I come from.”
Gilmour, now with the University of New Brunswick’s men’s hockey team, played four OHL seasons with Saginaw and was a seventh-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 NHL draft.
He joined the Red Devils in major atom and relished developing as a player with the AAA hockey organization until his draft year.
“I had a lot of great coaches. My first year it was parents that coached and they were awesome,” Gilmour said. “(Second year) we got Patrick Shearer and Terry Gaebel, Brent Heusinkveld and Grant Pope and they were with us all the way up until minor midget. They were awesome. They were a big part of developing us. They treated us almost like a junior team. We practised all the time.”
Gilmour says he will follow this weekend’s draft, like every year, to see which Red Devils and Cobourg-area players are selected.
His advice for these players is simple.
“Work ethic is the main thing,” Gilmour said. “I don’t think it matters where your name is called or even if it’s called at all. It’s just kind of a tryout at that point. Obviously I think the higher picks will get a little bit more of a look, but at the end of the day it’s just a tryout. You’re a part of the organization, but just keep working hard and you never know what will happen.”
Last year, the Quinte Red Devils had 10 players selected in the OHL draft, including first-round pick (15th overall) Donovan McCoy by the Petes and second-round picks, both from Port Hope, Owen Beck to the Mississauga Steelheads 29th overall and Dalyn Wakely to the North Bay Battalion 30th overall.
Quinte Red Devils president and U16 head coach Tyler Longo said it’s been challenging this year for his draft-eligible players to not have had a proper season, but they made the most of the time they did get to spend on the ice.
“We were pretty lucky in this area where, for the most part, we weren’t into too many lockdowns,” Longo said. “We were able to run a normal practice with 20 to 26 players on the ice, put together some intrasquad games and…this area being in the good condition where we were able to have some viewers in the stands. We were able to bring in a lot of different scouts, GMs and head coaches from OHL teams just to get a chance to see our kids in a practice setting and also in a game setting.”
There were challenges, of course, with the players limited to intrasquad games, “just to keep the intensity level up with the boys, trying to make sure they’re staying focused,” Longo said.
“It’s never easy always competing against your peers and trying to keep that intensity up, but I thought our kids did a phenomenal job at holding each other accountable, pushing each other each day and obviously staying as positive as can be through the whole process.”
Cobourg’s Ethan Miedema is one player for the Red Devils who has been gaining a lot of attention of late and could challenge Gilmour’s claim as the highest player drafted from the Quinte organization.
“He’s, first of all, a phenomenal kid. Certainly a pleasure coaching Ethan,” Longo said. “Very respectable, loves the game, has a ton of passion. He’s got a ton of drive and a big body at 6-4. I believe in the major bantam year he put up 104, 105 points. He’s one of the top ‘05’s for sure in the province and certainly deserves the recognition he’s finally getting. He’s been a treat to coach. You don’t have to spend a whole lot of time on him. He motivates himself, but he also backs it up with the way he plays. I think he’s an elite, elite hockey player and I’m certainly excited for him and his family for this upcoming draft. It might put a little bit of rest to a year that wasn’t what we expected, but certainly the circumstances…I think Ethan’s put himself in a phenomenal position to have an exciting weekend. He has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Longo was asked about the following Red Devils players who could be selected in the earlier rounds of this weekend’s draft.
Cal Uens (Napanee): “I’ve coached Cal since minor peewee. Cal’s a special, special kid, phenomenal athlete, another player that’s very, very elite as an athlete. Cal was a centerman all the way up to about halfway through our year in major bantam. We had a couple injuries on the backend so Cal being a pretty responsible centerman at the time at both ends of the rink, we put him back on the point because we needed a ‘D’ and next thing you know it wasn’t more than after the first or second game all the coaches looked at each other and we weren’t really sure how we were going to move him back to forward. The way he sees the game, his hockey IQ is very high and he loved it. He loved playing the game as a defenceman. It was new to him, I think he had the opportunity to get some more puck touches back there, which is always a good thing as a hockey player. One thing I’ll take away from Cal, just that experience alone, was you would think someone that’s been playing center since novice would want to go back to forward, especially if you gave him the option, and Cal’s answer to the coaching staff was if this is going to help our team win, I’ll stay on the point. It’s something you don’t hear too many 15-year-olds say at the time. Everyone loves scoring the goals, but not everyone loves doing what’s best for your team. I think you’ll see Cal have a lot of success in this upcoming draft. There’s certainly a lot of teams that have a lot of interest in Cal, not just because of his defensive play, but Cal was a heckuva centerman too when he was up front. The way the game is being played now, if you can offer something in all three zones offensively and defensively, it’s going to make you that much more valuable to whatever team drafts you.”
Chris Brydges (Cobourg): “I’ve coached Brydgy now for the last three years. Another kid that’s very, very skilled. He loves to jump up in the play, he’s a very offensive defenceman. I would say well-above average skating, loves to compete and he’s been a great player for our ‘05 group over the last three years. He’s another player who’s pretty passionate about the game, puts the work in and it’s starting to show. He’s getting a lot of attention here in the last week or so leading up to the draft. I expect a successful draft for him as well. He’s been a lot of fun to coach.”
Ethan Quick (Quinte West): “Ethan is a power forward as I would call him. Phenomenal hands, sees the game very well, high hockey IQ and for the last three years that I’ve coached Ethan, he’s been a great leader on and off the ice, great teammate. He’s a lot of fun to watch, he’s pretty aggressive with the puck, aggressive away from the puck. I think right now Ethan’s about 6-1, 170-180 pounds and puts up a lot of points. I think Ethan’s going to have a great, successful weekend as well. There’s a lot of interest in someone like Ethan and rightfully so. He’s really come along as a player over the last three years and as a person as well. He’s going to have a ton of success at the next level, too. It’s always rewarding to see players have some success that put the work in as much as Ethan does.”
Jack Dever (Belleville): “He’s been our captain for the last three years. I can’t say enough great things about Jack. He’s a quiet leader, just leads by example, another player that put up around 97-98 points in his major bantam year. What Jack brings on the ice, he matches it just with the way he presents himself off the ice with his work ethic and how good of a teammate he is. Jack really prides himself on his game away from the puck. That may shock some people because someone that has got 97-98 points would think he’s just all offensive, but if you really watch Jack’s game, I feel the strongest part of Jack’s game is how reliable he is in his own end and paying attention to small details.”
Duncan Schneider (Belleville): “Another very athletic young man. He excels in anything he puts his mind to. Dunc sees the ice very well, a phenomenal defender, another guy that’s very valuable in all three zones of the game. He’s got high hockey IQ, his skating his well-above average and he’s been a treat to coach over the last three years. I think he’s going to be an asset to whatever team drafts Duncan. I think you’ll see him have a lot of success as well, not only this weekend but moving forward. He’s a good person, also a phenomenal athlete and student as well so whatever Duncan decides to do, he’s going to be very successful.”