Battalion draft Getty Images

Battalion take 15 in 2020 OHL Priority Selection

North Bay Battalion OHL Selection Day Review

For Battalion fans, the popular phrase is “hope springs eternal.”

With the landscape that was the past season for North Bay, the 2020 OHL Priority Selection has not just provided hope to move past the season, but more solid pieces to build upon an already stable foundation.

Starting with the first overall pick in the draft, the Troops took Ty Nelson. However, North Bay had to sit around for 29 picks before selecting Dalyn Wakely.

Troops GM Adam Dennis

“Coming into the draft, we knew it was going to be a deep one,” Battalion General Manager Adam Dennis said. “We came into this with eyes wide open, and it was a long wait from one to 30 but we really felt there was going to be someone special at 30. Dalyn Wakely is a guy we didn’t think was going to be there at 30, but we’re happy to get him.”

“The consensus was that the two best teams were the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and Quinte Red Devils,” he continued. “We feel like [with Nelson and Wakely] that we got the best player on both of those teams now. I think this is a very deep draft and we will all see that in a couple of years.”

North Bay didn’t have to wait nearly as long to make their next selection, as with the first pick of the third round, they selected Tnias Mathurin, before wrapping up the top five with Owen Van Steensel and Michael Podolioukh, both in the fourth round.

“Mathurin is a big physical defensive defenceman with some offensive ability and is a guy that can step in right away,” Dennis explained. “Van Steensel played for a former teammate of mine, Dan Syvret, was tied in points with Hunter Haight who went in the top 10 [ninth overall to the Barrie Colts]. Padolioukh played with the Jr Canadiens and played in a lot of big games and was taken later than many of the experts would have said.”

A theme this year for the Battalion is the top four selections all wore a “C” or “A” on their jerseys with their previous clubs before being taken by North Bay.

“When you meet the kids that we selected and you understand the type of people they are, you understand why their coaches put letters on their jersey,” Dennis said. “I think that is really important. You talk about having the right person in our dressing room and the right person is willing to put the work in and they will get better and that is important.”

Battalion Draft
Luke Moncada of the North Bay Battalion( Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

“They’re good players already, and we know the ceilings for those guys are all pretty high,” he added. “The pressure will be off as 16-year-olds coming into our dressing room that has leaders already. They have the opportunity to learn from a guy like Luke Moncada. He’s an extension of our coaching staff because he plays the right way, and he’s not afraid to let his teammates know when they need to be better and it’s a great thing for a young guy to come in and see that model.”

“We didn’t set out at the beginning of the day to take captains,” Director of Scouting Charles Abbott explained. “One thing we have done is make sure to take kids with high character and responsibilities on their shoulders.”

The OHL Cup is a tool many scouts use when deciding who their team will select. With the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the tournament, scouts had to rely on their previous viewings of players. However, for Abbott, the work had been put in that missing the OHL Cup was just a blip on the radar.

“I think it might have benefitted us because we got out so many nights and see so many games we did,” Abbott explained. “We were very, very confident and I think that shows.”

“Everybody’s happy the day of the draft, but the way it has gone has made us very happy,” he continued. “I think we have added to our prospect pool and we have picked up a lot of players that have made us excited.”

Battalion OHL Priority Selection Rundown

Here’s a break down of all North Bay selections:

  • First-round, first overall – Ty Nelson, D (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
  • Second-round, 30th overall – Dalyn Wakely, C (Quinte Red Devils)
  • Third-round, 41st overall – Tnias Mathurin, D (Ajax-Pickering Raiders)
  • Fourth-round, 63rd overall – Owen Van Steensel, LW (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs)
  • Fourth-round, 70th overall – Michael Podolioukh, C (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
  • Sixth-round, 116th overall – Domenic DeVincentiis, G (Vaughan Kings)
  • Eighth-round, 141st overall – Kyan Haldenby, C (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
  • Ninth-round, 161st overall – Rodion Tatarenko, C (Toronto Red Wings)
  • 10th-round, 181st overall – Gus Hinkley, D (Detroit HoneyBaked 15’s)
  • 10th-round, 190th overall – Dawson Hettiarachchi, RW (Whitby Wildcats)
  • 11th-round, 201st overall – Max Seguin, LW (Toronto Nationals)
  • 12th-round, 221st overall – Brett Richardson, LW (North Bay Trappers)
  • 13th-round, 241st overall – Patrick Wrzesinski, D (Toronto Titans)
  • 14th-round, 261st overall – Sett Ursomarzo, C (Toronto Nationals)
  • 15th-round, 281st overall – Vince Baiocchi, RW (Toronto Marlboros)

Ryan Oulahen View on Troops Future

For newly-minted head coach Ryan Oulahen, he is excited to get to work with the players.

“It keeps us up at night as coaches and it is the exciting part for sure,” he explained. “Adding in more pieces will create more competition. We want to take a step next year and become an improving hockey team and the only way to do that is to insert more people and make the lineup competitive.”

“That’s not just who is dressing every night, but within the lineup,” Oulahen explained. “Who is going to play on the powerplay, who is on the penalty kill, who is going to get the minutes? When you have that kind of competition every day in games and practices, your team is going to get better and that’s what we’re excited about.”

However, with this being his first draft as head coach of the troops, for Oulahen this is the first time he has heard of some of these players.

“It’s exciting for me to hear about these kids,” he said. “I’m not the one out there in the rinks every night and watching them, especially with how the season went down the stretch, I wasn’t able to watch many games. This is the first time I am hearing about attributes with these kids, be involved in the meetings. With the top part of the draft, you have a sense of what they can bring but now I am excited to see what they can do on the ice.”

“I love hearing the passion our scouts have for some players, the attributes they will bring and the style we want to play,” Oulahen added. “For anyone in the hockey world, we’re like kids in a candy store on draft day, it’s a lot of fun.”

With the seemingly high-end talent taken by the Battlion in the draft, it’s not hard to imagine fans feeling like they too are in the candy store with Troops management.