Spitfires will need to show patience early in OHL Draft

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The Saginaw Spirit announcing on Thursday that exceptional status forward Michael Misa would be the first overall pick in Friday’s Ontario Hockey League Draft made the picture no clearer for the Windsor Spitfires.

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The OHL will hold the first three rounds of the draft on Friday and the final 12 rounds on Sunday. Unlike a year ago, when the Spitfires held the fourth pick overall after a lottery draw, the club will have to wait until pick No. 22 to make a selection.

“There’s 21 names that go ahead of you and we’re just going to have to wait and see,” Spitfires’ general manager Bill Bowler said.

The last time Windsor waited so long to make its first selection was in 2016 when the club took defenseman Connor Corcoran with the 21st pick overall. However, that was a second-round pick after the club had forfeited its first-round pick as part of league sanctions.

Windsor’s late selection in the first round on Friday is because three teams – Oshawa, Ottawa and Saginaw – also have compensatory picks in the first round for players that did not report a year ago.

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“We’re confident we’re going to get good players on Friday and we’ll wait and see,” Bowler said. “There are good players in each round and kids develop at different times.”

At this point, the Spitfires have 14 players that spent time with the team this season eligible to return for 2022-23, which doesn’t include overage players. So, there’s no pressure on Bowler to find an impact player early in Friday’s draft, but rather players that become mainstays of the club down the road.

“You always want some youth and energy in the lineup,” Bowler said. “However, for first-year players, you’re looking down the road. A first-year player having an immediate impact is so rare.”

A year ago, Bowler already had Ethan Miedema and Bronson Ride in the fold before the 22nd pick. Still, while he’ll get a late on Friday, the Spitfires do have four picks in the top 65 selections with the club holding Owen Sound’s pick in the fourth round at No. 34, its own in the third round at No. 62 and Erie’s pick in the fourth round at No. 65.

“We’ve narrowed it down to a group and we’ll have to wait and see,” Bowler said. “Our goal on Friday to select as many OHL-caliber players as possible.”

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