A disappointing exit from the 2018-2019 post-season for the Kitchener Rangers and their loyal supporters, a first round sweep delivered by the OHL champions, the Guelph Storm.
Looking to forget a bitter ending to their 2018-2019 campaign, Kitchener set their sights on the 2019 OHL Priority selection draft as they look to the future.
First round selection, 13th overall, Francesco Pinelli the dynamic two-way centerman from the Toronto Red Wings in the GTHL. Francesco had 114 points in 71 games to end his 2018-2019 season.
Pinelli will be a crucial part of the future success of the Kitchener Rangers. It is also no surprise to anyone that he will see plenty of playing time in his rookie season.
Rangers top brass then selected Roman Schmidt with their 2nd round pick in the 2019 OHL Priority draft. The 6 foot 5, 209 pound two-way defenseman posted 71 points in 73 games, helping the Don Mills Flyers become undefeated champions in the GTHL and OHL Cup.
It’s no secret that Roman has already declared he will play for the United States National Development U17 Program next season. The Midland, Michigan native and the former Don Mills Flyers rearguard has committed to Boston University for 2021-2022.
Mike McKenzie the Rangers GM joined me on OHL Unfiltered, he weighed in on why they selected Roman Schmidt, knowing he was committed to the USNTDP.
“That’s one that will take some patience, we picked him knowing he was committed to the US program and is going to play there this year, that’s one we’re looking to the future for, hopefully, he will be with us in a year or two.”
Rangers management is optimistic that Roman will eventually find his way to the Ontario Hockey League, The former Flyer was a projected top-10 pick at the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, due to his commitment to play in the USA next season, he fell to the Rangers in round two.
Roman Schmidt undoubtedly could ease some of the growing pains for the Kitchener Rangers should he report in 2020-2021. The departure of Kyle Gentles and Cole Cameron this season will leave plenty of available ice-time for returning players.
Five defenseman return for the Rangers in 2019-2020. Joseph Rupoli who was acquired at the trade deadline in 2018-2019, he returns with Justin MacPherson as the experienced leaders on the Rangers blueline.
Donovan Sebrango and Michael Vukojevic will see an increase in responsibility and ice-time next season. Arber Xhekaj is the final defenseman returning to the Rangers for 2019-2020.
Mckenzie, the Rangers GM feels they’re in no rush to add a player right away, Kitchener management believes that patience will pay off, and ultimately, this will allow their inexperienced players to develop with increased minutes.
When it comes to figuring out whether or not Roman Schmidt will actually appear in a Kitchener Rangers uniform. Well that is hard to judge if indeed he makes a debut in the OHL in the next couple years, or ever. It’s probable he ends up playing for the U18 squad should he decide to stay across the border for 2020-2021. Only time will tell, however Kitchener management feel he is worth the pick, and the wait.