The 2020 OHL Priority Selection was Saturday with all 20 of the league’s teams adding key pieces to their future including the Central division Niagara IceDogs.
Niagara had the 2nd-overall selection and had the chance to add a franchise altering player to their team, but as everyone knows teams can find talent in all rounds and GM Joey Burke was looking to do that as well on Saturday.
Niagara had 13 total picks on Saturday, adding 10 forwards and three defenceman to their roster. The top-4 picks could all potentially crack the opening lineup, and Burke added some potential offensicve depth with his later picks as well.
IceDogs Pick by Pick Breakdown:
2nd Overall – Pano Fimia (C) – Toronto Jr. Canadiens
With the 2nd pick Niagara had the potential to grab a piece they have been missing, a cornerstone #1 center.
Fimis is an elite-level playmaking, two-way center who will step into a huge role with Niagara from day 1. The former GTHL player of the year possesses impressive offensive capabilities, while also taking pride in playing an effective two-way game you need in a franchise center.
The Toronto Jr. Canadiens’ captain was described as the team’s offensive engine, scoring 42 points in 32 games in the GTHL.
In Fimis, Niagara filled a glaring need but also took the best player available on their board.
27th Overall – Alec Leonard (RD) – Mississauga Reps
Leonard will join a solid group of young talent on Niagara’s blueline.
The IceDogs got excellent contributions from rookies Landon Cato and Isaac Enright while Mason Howard stepped up to become the leader on Niagara’s backend.
With a solid group already intact, Leonard won’t face the pressure Fimis will face. Instead he can take on a depth role (if earned) and learn from the veterans Niagara already has in place.
33rd Overall – Brice Cooke (LW) – Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Cooke was Fimis’ linemate for the Jr. Canadiens and the two had dynamite chemistry together. Cooke was the primary goal scorer, recording 22 goals in 31 games.
Cooke could potentially lock up a top-6 spot on the roster next season. With Oliver Castleman’s OHL career ending, there’s arguments that Cooke (pending any trades) could be the team’s best left winger on the roster.
He and Fimis could potentially recapture their GTHL chemistry in the OHL if everything goes right.
45th Overall – Dylan Roobroeck (C) – London Jr. Knights
With their 4th pick in the selection, Niagara took Roobroeck a tall, slender center from London.
Roobroeck recorded 32 points in 33 games for the Jr. Knights. Niagara has Fimis, Jake Uberti, Cam Peters and Anthony Agostonelli as their potential four centers, however because of their offensive struggles there is likely going to be open competition for roster spots next season.
Roobroeck could take a spot if he impresses the team, and it shouldn’t be ruled out that he could earn a roster spot next year.
82nd Overall – Ryan Struthers (C) – Oakville Rangers
Struthers was the third center taken by Niagara in their first five picks.
The Oakville Ranger had a very good midget season, scoring 30 points in 29 season games and 14 points in 14 playoff games.
102nd Overall – Zaccharya Wisdom (RW) – Mississauga Senators
The Wisdom selection continued the theme for Niagara of addressing their forward group.
In Wisdom, Niagara gets a talented goal scoring prospect (16 of his 18 points in 2019-20 were goals).
With the IceDogs struggling offensively, it’s never a bad idea to draft players who can put the puck in the net.
122nd Overall – Kailin Chen (LW) – Toronto Marlboros
With Niagara being a little thin at LW, they selected Chen 122nd overall.
The former Marlboro has offensive potential who can grow into future forward depth for the IceDogs.
142nd Overall – Ryan Conmy (RW) – Buffalo Jr Sabres 15U
With our 8th round pick, we’ve selected Ryan Conmy from the Buffalo Jr. Sabres U15’s!
— Niagara IceDogs (@OHLIceDogs) April 4, 2020
Conmy was selected out of the successful Jr. Sabres program, joining Anthony Agostonelli as another Jr. Sabre in the Niagara organization.
Conmy has the potential to fill a huge need for the IceDogs, he’s an offensively gifted right winger who possesses a bigger frame than some of the other Niagara picks.
At 5-10, 174, he has more room to grow, but being a gifted offensive producer who played close to Niagara in his midget season allows Niagara to be confident in this pick.
For comparison Agostonelli was selected in the 8th round of the 2019 selection and played a regular role with the IceDogs in his first season in the organization.
162nd Overall – Stevie Li (RW) – Aurora Tigers
Li was born in Beijing, and played with Don Mills during his midget season before joining the Aurora Tigers (OJHL) for the 2019-2020 season.
202nd Overall – Ilia Chmelevski (C) – Detroit Victory Honda 15U
Chmelevski is the littler brother of former 67’s forward Sasha Chmelevski.
If Ilia is anywhere near as skilled as his older brother the IceDogs will be extremely thrilled with this selection in the future.
222nd Overall – Lucas Littlejohn (RD) – Clarington Toros
Littlejohn was the 2nd defenceman taken by the IceDogs in the selection. Niagara had a clear strategy of finding the best marriage of value and need.
While Niagara doesn’t have a glaring need for defenceman, teams can never ignore the best available player on their board, regardless of position.
Littlejohn adds another defenceman into the organization who can both skate and move the puck well.
262nd Overall – Gregory Spitznagel (RW) – New Jersey Rockets 16U
Spitznagel, 17, is a big bodied right winger with offensive potential.
Standing at 6-2, 201, Spitznagel had a dominant 17-year-old season for the New Jersey Rockets 16U team.
He scored 23 goals and 39 total points in 19 games this season.
Another pick with offensive upside for the IceDogs, but Spitznagel’s size and frame make him an intriguing pick this late in the selection.
282nd Overall – William Godfrey (LD) – Whitby Wildcats
With their last pick in the 2020 priority selection the Niagara IceDogs took defenceman William Godfrey from Whitby.
Just their third defenceman taken out of 13 picks, Niagara’s strategy in this draft was evident but picking up another defenceman late in the draft who the team sees as future value is always a smart way to go.
Niagara uses 2020 to address their biggest need
After the 2019-2020 season it was clear that Niagara needed to re-stock their forward cupboard.
They traded Akil Thomas, Phil Tomasino and Kyen Sopa. Their best forward Ivan Lodnia finished his OHL career and the team didn’t have enough impact forwards to feel comfortable heading into the 2020-21 OHL season.
Adding 10 more forwards to the organization and three defenceman to an already strong blueline seems like a very successful draft for GM Joey Burke.
IceDogs fans have to be excited for the future after a solid day at the 2020 OHL Priority Selection.