Finding Diamonds in U18 Priority Selection Draft
The OHL Under-18 Priority Selection Draft was initially introduced in 2017 to give players who remained in major midget AAA another opportunity to catch the eye of OHL scouts and earn an opportunity. In the 2023 edition the Brantford Bulldogs hold the 7th overall selection in the 1st round & 27th overall selection in the 2nd round, with the possibility of adding a 3rd pick if one of their first two is a goaltender.
The Bulldogs have found gold in the U-18 Draft previously, most notably in 2019 where in the 3rd round with the 47th overall pick the team selected defenseman Gavin White. Arriving in the 2019-20 season, White immediately impressed, skating in 25 games, the Brockville native showed a brilliant skill set. The 2021-22 season proved the Bulldogs hit a grand slam in finding the fleet-footed blueliner. Finishing 2nd in scoring among defensemen on the season with 10 goals & 46 assists for 56 points in 66 games, White dazzled Bulldogs fans, at times teaming up with Nathan Staios as the most dynamic offensive blueline combination in junior hockey. In the 2022 playoffs, White scored one of the biggest goals in Bulldogs franchise history. After the Bulldogs tied Game 4 late in the third period in Windsor, it was White’s point drive in overtime off a face-off win that found its way through traffic that tied the series and gave the Bulldogs momentum towards winning the 2022 OHL Championship.
With our final selection of the #OHLU18Draft, the Bulldogs select Gavin White from the Brockville Braves. #GoHAM pic.twitter.com/agrwJpuvkd
— Brantford Bulldogs (@BulldogsOHL) April 10, 2019
White’s incredible season and playoff heroics led to the gifted defenseman being selected in the 4th round, 115th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars. White returned to the Bulldogs for the 2022-23 season, scoring 7 goals & 15 assists for 22 points in 22 games before a deadline trade to Peterborough where White is still competing in the playoffs, looking for his 2nd straight OHL Championship. Adding to an already great OHL career, White signed his entry level contract with the Dallas Stars, truly proving to be the biggest success story of the U-18 Draft system.
Though they didn’t play in the OHL, in 2018 & 2020 the Bulldogs again found players who have gone on to have excellent junior/collegiate careers. In the 2nd round of the 2018 U-18 Draft with the 38th overall selection the Bulldogs drafted power-forward Sean Chisholm from the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs U18, coming off a season where he posted 23 goals & 29 assists for 52 points in 36 games. Chisholm went on to play in Alberta with the Brooks Bandits where he starred for two seasons before committing to and joining Dartmouth College where he has played the last two seasons.
With our 2nd selection (38th overall) in the #OHLU18Draft the Hamilton Bulldogs are proud to select Sean Chisholm from the @HamJrBulldogs!
— Brantford Bulldogs (@BulldogsOHL) April 11, 2018
With the 6th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2022 U-18 Draft, the Bulldogs turned east, selecting slick, playmaking forward Brody Fournier from the Smith Falls Bears U18. Coming off a 2019-20 season where he posted 34 goals & 34 assists for 68 points in 45 games, there was no doubting the offensive potential. Playing the 2021-22 season in the CCHL with the Smith Falls Bears, Fournier dominated with 37 goals & 37 assists for 74 points in 55 games forming a dynamic combination with team captain Sean James and leading the team in goals. Fournier joined the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads prior to the 2022-23 season and carried onto a productive first season in the Maritimes, with 13 goals & 12 assists for 25 points while appearing in all 68 games.
With the 6th overall pick the Bulldogs have selected right wing Brody Fournier from the Smith Falls Bears.#OHLU18Draft pic.twitter.com/4Fzc9Qv3MC
— Brantford Bulldogs (@BulldogsOHL) April 8, 2020
The Bulldogs don’t even have to look far for an immediate success story out of the U-18 Draft. In 2022 the team selected goaltender Avery Alves 20th overall in the 1st round from the Hamilton Huskies U18 program. After impressing in training camp, Alves spent the 2022-23 season with the Niagara Falls Canucks of the GOJHL where netminder took the starting role as a rookie and was brilliant. Posting a 2.61/.925 stat line over 29 appearances with a pair of shutouts during the regular season, Alves found a new level in the playoffs where he played to a 1.31/.960 with a shutout in 6 playoff games. Avles joins David Egorov as Bulldogs rookie goaltenders who dominated the GOJHL in their first junior seasons.
The @bulldogsohl select Avery Alves with the 20th pick in the #OHLU18Draft!
Congratulations 👏 👏 👏#AlwaysAHuskie | #BeTheHammer | #AllianceHockey pic.twitter.com/ZgdyWR8Tv3
— Hamilton Huskies (@HuskiesHamilton) May 6, 2022
The 2023 OHL Under-18 Priority Selection Draft gets underway at 7:00pm tonight and Bulldogs social media will keep our followers updated as the Bulldogs make their selections at 7, 27 & beyond.