by Brandon Sudeyko (@intheoradio)

Today we found out that Toronto Marlboro’s centreman Connor McDavid was grated ‘exceptional status’ by Hockey Canada.  He is the third player officially to be given this status since John Tavares was granted exceptional status and the Oshawa Generals took him first overall in the 2005 OHL Priority draft. Since Tavares there has been 3 players to apply, with only one of those players being denied permission to jump to the OHL a year early.

Connor McDavid has been praised for a long time, and many have said as early as a few seasons ago that he would be jumping to the OHL early. With this announcement, McDavid effectively bumps Marlboro’s teammate Joshua Ho-Sang out of the first overall spot in this year’s OHL Priority draft. McDavid would be the Erie Otters first overall pick while Josh Ho-Sang would fall to the Kingston Frontenacs who pick second overall.  Of course, after last year’s selection of Max Domi, who used some ‘manipulation’ to fall in the draft, decided he did not want to play in Kingston and was traded to London.  By not signing with the Frontenacs, Kingston has two picks in the top 10 of this year’s priority draft.

After learning of McDavid’s exceptional status the emails and texts started flowing with talks of players already attempting to ‘manipulate’ their draft stock. Given the top 10. It is easy to pick out who may or may not be trying to play this game. A game that has happened a lot in recent memory. One that some GM’s will play along with, and a game where some GM’s stand their ground.

Outside of the Max Domi draft slide last year were some lesser known, highly skilled players who dropped to 3rd, 4th, and even later rounds because of the threat of playing NCAA. One of the GM’s who drafted one of these players, was also one who years prior took part in the draft sliding, but is now standing up and taking the kids where they should be slotted based on skill and potential.

After talking to a few agents who represent some highly skilled players they all say the same thing, not surprisingly either, ‘these players just want to go to a good program and develop and play where they feel they can maximize their potential. It is a short window and they just want to be the best they can be.’

There is nothing wrong with wanting the best situation. But when you look at it. How many teams in the OHL would exist if these players got their way… or would there be 3 London teams, 3 Windsor teams, another Kitchener team etc. There are not many destinations that players truly want to play in.

According to this is how they see the top 10 for the upcoming OHL Draft. Their rankings do not include Connor McDavid as eligible but he is undoubetedly #1.

  1. Connor McDavid (ERIE)
  2. Joshua Ho-Sang (KINGSTON)
  3. Robert Fabri (PETERBOROUGH)
  4. Ryan MacInnis (SAULT STE. MARIE)
  5. Jared McCann (GUELPH)
  6. Roland McKeown
  7. Eric Cornel
  8. Jacob Middleton
  9. Nick Schmaltz
  10. Michael Del Colle


These teams selecting players 3-5 are based on current rankings prior to game time on Sunday March 11th.


I am not going to out the names of the kids who have allegedly started to claim they want to play NCAA to make sure they end up on a better team. The long asked question is ‘what can you do to derail this from happening?’ There is no answer. Every player who does not make the level that they wish to be at need options. NCAA, USHL, American Prep School, Jr A, B, C or major junior. All viable options which can still lead to the same finish line. The NHL.

As a 16 year old kid I would not want to go to a program where it will be a 2 year rebuild as I enter my draft year. At the same time, I would be honoured to be drafted. Whether it is second overall or 157th overall. No matter how you feel about your team getting the short end of the stick when they draft a player and he doesn’t want to come to your team. The player is doing what is ‘best’ for him. And if that is protecting his options depending on where his career can end up. You can not help but sympathize with that thought.