Oshawa Generals add 51-goal scorer from York-Simcoe with sixth overall pick in OHL Priority Draft


Published April 24, 2023 at 8:40 am

Newest General Owen Griffin at the OHF U15 Program of Excellence camp in Oshawa last year. Photo Dan Hickling

The Oshawa Generals chose a gifted forward with elite vision who also scored 51 goals in just 35 games last season with their first selection in the OHL Priority Draft as the club tries to transition from an eighth-place club into one that can challenge for the Memorial Cup.

The first three rounds of the draft went Friday night and Owen Griffin, the York-Simcoe Express centre that Neutral Zone, one of Canada’s top amateur scouting organizations, had ranked at #8, went to the Generals at pick #6.

Here’s Neutral Zone’s assessment of the Oshawa Generals’ newest phenom, a slick player in a smaller package at 5’9 and 150 from Markham:

Round 1, Pick 6 C Owen Griffin, York Simcoe Express U16 (Neutral Zone #8 in Top 300 Rankings 4.50 star)

Owen Griffin is an extremely intelligent young man on the ice. His understanding of the game is amazing. He knows where every player is on the ice at all times. He is extremely crafty and makes plays with all parts of his body. He was redirecting pucks to his team off of his skate or kicking the puck to create chances. When he has the puck on his stick he seems to be steps ahead of the other team with elite vision and crafty plays in transition. He is very calm with the puck and takes his time to wait for openings or quickness to shake off defenders. He seems to have the puck on a string, beating defenders in several different ways and he makes for a long game when playing against him. He is exciting to watch. Even when the puck isn’t on his stick he makes intelligent plays to get open or read passes to create turnovers. Seemed like every time he was on the ice there was a good scoring chance for his team.

Oshawa went a little off the board with their second pick, goalie Isaac Gravelle of the Southern Tier Admirals. The 6’ Gravelle had some gaudy statistics with the Welland-based team last season and despite his #53 ranking going into the draft, Neutral Zone’s Mark Bilotta wasn’t surprised when the Generals selected Gravelle with the 27th pick, the second goalie chosen in the draft after Jack Ivankovic (Mississauga Senators), who went 7th overall to Mississauga.

“Goalies are definitely the hardest to evaluate because so much maturation happens from draft night to when they reach the next level,” Bilotta explained. “We have a good idea who the top goalies in the class are, but in many cases teams are drafting based on need whereas our rankings are based on star ratings of each player, which highlights where they are today and where they can get to down the road.”

Here’s Neutral Zone’s assessment on the Oshawa Generals (hopefully) future star goaltender:

Round 2, Pick 27 G Isaac Gravelle, Southern Tier Admirals U16 (Neutral Zone #53 in Top 300 Rankings, 4.25 star)

Isaac Gravelle was outstanding when we saw him at the Whitby Silver Stick. He was our second ranked goalie in this draft class and has the ability to steal games. He started all of Southern Tier’s games and pitched three shutouts in their run to the semifinals. He was calm and confident in the net and challenged shooters. He shows fluid movement and tracks the puck well. He read the play well here and anticipated the play moving side-to-side and always seemed to have the angles covered. His most dominant game came vs the highly-rated Toronto Jr. Canadiens as Gravelle was focused throughout and stood tall in a shutout. He was peppered in this game and made a number of quality saves. He was easily the best player on the ice and he gave his team a chance to win. Also had a great run in the OMHA playoffs and nearly stole the final in 3OT as well.

Oshawa’s third-round selection, at #51 overall (from the Sudbury Wolves in a swap of picks Tuesday) was another small-but-skilled centre (5’9, 150) who has learned to use his low centre of gravity to be extremely tough to knock off the puck and become a 200-foot player with 27 goals in 36 games last season.

Here’s Neutral Zone’s assessment:

Round 3, Pick 51 C Tristan Delisle, Mississauga Rebels U16 (Neutral Zone #60 in Top 300 Rankings, 4.00 star)

Tristan Delisle continued to show as a talented 200foot centre who is difficult to contain with his powerful stride and ability to get to top speed quickly. He plays an unselfish give-and-go game and makes the players around him better. Delisle had a handful of dominant shifts where he held the puck on a string and used his low center of gravity to power through checking on the cycle. He has been a consistent performer in most viewings and was noticeable on most shifts. We are seeing him more as a two-way threat now; he showed a quick release shot with good velocity and more of a willingness to get to the tough areas around the net. He has a balanced stride and a low center of gravity which means he is difficult to knock off pucks and competes hard against bigger defenders. He has great vision in close and uses his wingers very effectively off the cycle. He can generate pace through the neutral zone and showed the ability to back defenders off on the rush.

As expected, defenceman Matthew Schaefer of the Halton Hurricanes went #1 overall to the Erie Otters (and becomes this year’s Jack Ferguson Award winner), followed by Ryan Roobroek of the London Jr. Knights (brother of Oshawa’s Dylan Roobroek) to the Niagara Ice Dogs, Brady Martin of the Waterloo Wolves to the SS Marie Greyhounds, Tyler Hopkins of the Halton Hurricanes to the Kingston Frontenacs and Ethan Czata of the Mississauga Rebels to Niagara.

William Moore, who won the 2022 OHL Cup as an under-ager with the Mississauga Senators and almost won another this season with the Toronto Marlboros, was ranked #4 in the draft but went at #18 to the powerhouse London Knights – considered to be the richest junior franchise in Canada – after he told scouts he was leaning towards joining the US National Development Program next season.

It will be interesting to see if he signs with the Knights.

Other Oshawa selections in the 15-round draft, which seemed to emphasis size, included:

  • Haoxi (Simon) Wang, a 6-4 defenceman with the North York Rangers (5th Round, #83)
  • Shawn Costello, a 6’2 centre with the Mississauga Senators (5th Round, #87)
  • Tristan Boudreau, a 6’2 defenceman from Renfrew Wolves (6th Round, #103)
  • Ryan Hedley, a 50-goal centre from the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes (8th Round, #147)
  • Vasily Serov, a 6’3, 207 lb centre from the Vaughan Kings (9th Round, #167)
  • Cole Tuminaro, a 6’3 defenceman from the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies (10th Round, #187)
  • Zijan (Jason) Zhu, a LW with 27 points last season with the OHL Cup-contending Toronto Marlboros (10th Round, #198)
  • Deven Jones-McDonald, a high-scoring 6’ defenceman with the SS Marie Jr. Greyhounds (11th Round, #207)
  • Brody Jones, a 6’ defenceman with the Windsor Spitfires (13th Round, #247)
  • Ben Kozyra, a 6’4 centre with the Kemptville 73s (14th Round, #267)
  • Jesse Orlowsky, a 6’2 centre with the Long Island Gulls (15th Round, #287)

Local players chosen in this year’s junior draft included seven players (and both goalies) from the Whitby Wildcats, three from the Ajax-Pickering Raiders and one from the Clarington Toros:

  • Jaiden Newton, C, Whitby (Barrie Colts) 2nd Round, #26
  • Owen Edwards, G, Whitby (Kitchener) 6th Round, #111
  • Tyler Vorstadt, D, Whitby (Saginaw) 6th Round, #113
  • Evan Elliot, RW, Whitby (Owen Sound) 7th Round, #132
  • Drew McLennan, D, Whitby (Kitchener) 10th Round, #191
  • Nathan Gerelus, D, Ajax-Pickering (Barrie) 10th Round #199
  • Gabriel Donohue, G, Whitby (Windsor) 10th Round, #200
  • Landen Stevens, C, Ajax-Pickering (North Bay) 11th Round, #221
  • Griffin Boyle, LW, Whitby (Kingston) 12th Round, #226
  • Reid Thomas, G, Clarington (SS Marie) 15th Round, #285
  • Kaiden Thatcher, D, Ajax-Pickering (Peterborough) 15th Round, #293

In other Oshawa Generals news, forward Calum Ritchie is the 13th-ranked player, according to NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, for this year’s NHL draft.

Ritchie is currently with Canada’s national U18 team at the IIHF World U18 Championships in Switzerland and has 2-3-5 numbers in three games so far.

Defending champion Sweden pounded Canada 8-0 in the opener Thursday but Team Canada responded with a similar 8-0 beat-down of Germany Friday. Canada defeated Slovakia 4-3 Sunday and has one more Group A game remaining, a match with Czechia Tuesday. The quarter-finals begin Thursday.

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