This was a UV bullet and now it's 900 words, so now it's a post.
Yes, folks, the OHL draft has come and gone, and since Michigan is provisionally recruiting like gangbusters in the 2020 hockey class it once again becomes an event with great import for M hockey fans. Michigan commits:
Perfetti (right) barely fell
Cole Perfetti: 1st round, #5, Saginaw. Perfetti barely fell, which is usually real bad news. In this case there is a glimmer of hope because Saginaw has close to a complete roster for the year and OHL teams get compensatory picks if their first rounder is "defective," the OHL's charming term for a player who doesn't report. Rolling the dice on Perfetti doesn't cost them much; if he doesn't report they get the sixth overall pick in next year's draft, when they need it more. For now the Saginaw GM is playing coy and pretending the USHL doesn't exist:
"He has committed to Michigan, and there is a recruiting process for us. But when you talk about elite skill like this, the risk is worth the reward. And personally, I think he's too good to wait two years to play at this level."
OHL teams can trade defective picks and keep that compensatory pick, so we'll know if this was a flier or a plan in September. If Perfetti's immediately traded for a bushel of picks to another OHL outfit he's gone. This is the most likely outcome.
FWIW, Saginaw took former M commit Blade Jenkins and got him after one NTDP year. That might have been more desperation than anything else as Jenkins struggled immensely in the USHL, scoring 5 points in 34 games, and just 8 in 56 overall. He's up to 44 in 68 in an OHL he's found more tractable and is once again draftable.
— Neutral Zone (@_Neutral_Zone) January 26, 2018
Antonio Stranges: 2nd round, #21, London. Ugh. London has the resources to acquire players not otherwise headed for the OHL. Stranges is talented enough and London has enough players for this to be a flier. Stranges did tweet out something after he got picked—and then deleted that, hopefully once a strong Michigan advocate in his inner circle cocked an eyebrow at him.
Stranges has been invited to the NTDP, which usually announces its new U17 team in late April, so it won't take long to know which way he's going. FWIW, plugged in persons still think NTDP:
The team hasn't been announced yet, but he's widely expected to spend two years with the NTDP. There would be an outside chance of getting him in '19/20, but more likely the recruiting battle will unfold for '20/21.
— Priority Selection (@PrioritySelect) April 7, 2018
It is unusual for an NTDP kid to not follow through on a college commitment, because there's no wait to get into the tougher league and "hockey plus college" is better than "hockey and college later if you don't play 18 months pro."
Owen Power: 2nd round, #22, Flint. On the other hand, Flint is a league-owned mediocrity with little appeal. Power is safe unless and until he gets traded. There are no compensatory picks outside of the first round, so there's no timeline. Power was likely to be a top 5 pick until he committed, so his drop indicates that the OHL took it at least somewhat seriously.
Jacob Truscott: 5th round, London. London again but deep enough in the draft that it's a flier for a guy with Truscott's quality. He's also an NTDP invite.
Mitchell Smith, 5th round, Saginaw. This would be shrug territory except for the article that the local paper put out when Smith committed to Michigan:
"One thing you learn about hockey is that it has a huge network. You have to choose the right people to believe, the right people to trust. To have people like Brendan and Brian [Kischnick] giving advice is invaluable."
And if that means ultimately choosing to play college hockey, Michigan is not a bad destination.
"Michigan presented us with a good situation … basically he would have a chance to play right away," Tim Smith said. "And a Michigan education is pretty nice too."
The Kischnicks mentioned are father and son, the younger is Smith's D-partner. Kischnick committed to the OHL route after being picked in the sixth round and sent back to AAA this year. If that's the advice the Smiths are listening to, he gone. Also Smith is from Saginaw.
Cole McWard: 11th round, Kitchener. Patrick Guzzo: 13th round, Oshawa. Flier territory. Kitchener used to be a London level threat but has dropped off the radar recently.
Andrei Bakanov: N/A. Bakanov was widely expected to be a top ten pick but was not eligible for some reason or another despite having played his most recent two years of junior in OHL territory. The reason is probably "didn't bother to apply":
Game changer for the #OHLDraft is the status of Russian F Andrei Bakanov currently playing for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.
He remains ineligible for the draft and I'm told it's likely to stay that way as he does not have any desire to come play #OHL hockey.
— OHLInsiders(.com) (@OHLinsiders) March 30, 2018
He's likely be a USHL tender.
Michigan's likely to lose Perfetti and Smith; what's left over is still Michigan's best class in forever as long as Stranges sticks.