A Historic Weekend From The 2021 OHL Draft
The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) conducted its annual priority selection over the weekend, with all 20 of its member organizations participating. Each year, the draft takes place as teams choose players from their Under-16 seasons, and the 2021 festivities focused on prospects from the 2005-birth year.
It didn’t take long for history to be made, either, as Sudbury selected Quentin Musty with the first overall pick. He became the first American-born player chosen first overall since Alex Galchenyuk in 2010. Musty was a key component in the North Jersey Avalanche 16U team, playing up a year with the 2004s and leading the team in scoring at USA Hockey Nationals. He scored nine goals and 16 points in six games as the Avs won the championship.
The Oakville Rangers U16 team drew considerable attention on the first day of the draft as well, producing five of the first 11 picks selected. Second overall Calum Ritchie, fifth overall Matthew Soto, sixth overall Nick Lardis, ninth overall Luke Misa and 11th overall Owen Outwater carved out some history of their own for the youth organization they represented. It marked the fifth time that one organization managed to account for four of the top 10 picks selected in the draft, most recently in 2019 when Shane Wright and the Don Mills Flyers dominated draft day.
In all, 16 players from that Oakville team would go on to be selected during the 15-round event, producing more OHL prospects than any other youth organization. The Toronto Marlboros and Toronto Jr. Canadiens followed closely with 14 each, then the Mississauga Rebels (11) and Vaughan Kings (10).
History didn’t stop there, either.
With the 267th pick, Sarnia selected Taya Currie from the Elgin Middlesex Chiefs, as she became the first female ever to be chosen in the OHL Draft. Sarnia general manager Dylan Seca told The (Sarnia) Observer that Currie was drafted solely based on her skill.
“There’s no secret this is obviously a barrier-breaking scenario, but this is not a one-off,” he said. “This is a girl that’s been seven years playing triple-A with the boys. A starting goaltender on arguably the best team in the Alliance (Hockey League). This is a legit goaltender.”
The absence of a 2020-21 youth hockey season in Canada surely made the draft proceedings a challenging one over the weekend. The impact of a lost season has the potential of a ripple effect in the years that follow. How teams identified prospects as well as how those prospects developed without games and limited ice availability will play out as the OHL starts a new season next fall.