Bulldogs looking for ‘character’ with third pick of Saturday’s OHL draft

Sports Apr 07, 2016 by Teri Pecoskie The Hamilton Spectator

It's no surprise the Hamilton Bulldogs are remaining tight-lipped in the lead up to the Ontario Hockey League draft.

But here's what they will say:

"We're going to pick the best player available that is in line with our philosophy and our values here in Hamilton. I've been quite open about talking about character — that's one thing that's in the forefront in any player we're evaluating. We know if you're a character person, a good person, you're going to come in and put in the effort."

That's president and general manager Steve Staios talking. The sentiment, though, is echoed by his staff.

According to head scout Dave Gray, the focus in Saturday's draft is on finding a skilled player that can make and create plays, maybe score some goals or run a power play and "be a puck carrier back there."

That being said, neither he nor Staios will spill on whether they're eyeing a forward or a defenceman, let alone names. And the truth is the jury might still be out.

Here's the situation. With Flint forced to give up their first round selection — one of several sanctions imposed by the OHL on wayward owner Rolf Nilsen — Hamilton moves up to third overall. The move is small, yet significant, since, with several top prospects threatening not to report to the scandal-plagued club, it was nearly impossible to predict who the Firebirds would choose.

So that removes one unknown. The only problem is the Bulldogs still don't know who Guelph and Sudbury will pick ahead of them, and there's no clear consensus among scouts.

"This draft has a lot of really good hockey players, but there's just not that John Tavares-type player at the top of the draft where it's automatic," said Gray. "I think you could make an argument for a lot of players in the top 10. It's really close that way."

After watching thousands of players and hundreds of games, however, the Bulldogs scouts and managers have narrowed the field to three possibilities, maybe four. Staios said he's been in contact with all of them, and they're committed to the team if their name is called.

"The one thing that's been very positive and quite overwhelming is the response we've had from players and parents and agents, that they'd love to have the player play in Hamilton," he said. "They feel very confident and strong about what we're doing here, our approach and our values as an organization."

Whether there's room for them is another issue.

All but one of this year's Bulldogs — the OHL's youngest team — is eligible to return next season, which means the competition come training camp will be fierce. That's particularly true on the blue line where the average player, and there are 10 of them, comes in at just under 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds.

Gray won't be thinking about them on draft day, though.

"You can't predict at what pace some of these guys may develop and you can't predict the injury factor, if someone is to get hurt," he said. "You need depth in your organization, you need it throughout ...

"You're drafting to make your organization strong."

tpecoskie@thespec.com

905-526-3368 | @TeriatTheSpec

Bulldogs looking for ‘character’ with third pick of Saturday’s OHL draft

Sports Apr 07, 2016 by Teri Pecoskie The Hamilton Spectator

It's no surprise the Hamilton Bulldogs are remaining tight-lipped in the lead up to the Ontario Hockey League draft.

But here's what they will say:

"We're going to pick the best player available that is in line with our philosophy and our values here in Hamilton. I've been quite open about talking about character — that's one thing that's in the forefront in any player we're evaluating. We know if you're a character person, a good person, you're going to come in and put in the effort."

That's president and general manager Steve Staios talking. The sentiment, though, is echoed by his staff.

According to head scout Dave Gray, the focus in Saturday's draft is on finding a skilled player that can make and create plays, maybe score some goals or run a power play and "be a puck carrier back there."

That being said, neither he nor Staios will spill on whether they're eyeing a forward or a defenceman, let alone names. And the truth is the jury might still be out.

Here's the situation. With Flint forced to give up their first round selection — one of several sanctions imposed by the OHL on wayward owner Rolf Nilsen — Hamilton moves up to third overall. The move is small, yet significant, since, with several top prospects threatening not to report to the scandal-plagued club, it was nearly impossible to predict who the Firebirds would choose.

So that removes one unknown. The only problem is the Bulldogs still don't know who Guelph and Sudbury will pick ahead of them, and there's no clear consensus among scouts.

"This draft has a lot of really good hockey players, but there's just not that John Tavares-type player at the top of the draft where it's automatic," said Gray. "I think you could make an argument for a lot of players in the top 10. It's really close that way."

After watching thousands of players and hundreds of games, however, the Bulldogs scouts and managers have narrowed the field to three possibilities, maybe four. Staios said he's been in contact with all of them, and they're committed to the team if their name is called.

"The one thing that's been very positive and quite overwhelming is the response we've had from players and parents and agents, that they'd love to have the player play in Hamilton," he said. "They feel very confident and strong about what we're doing here, our approach and our values as an organization."

Whether there's room for them is another issue.

All but one of this year's Bulldogs — the OHL's youngest team — is eligible to return next season, which means the competition come training camp will be fierce. That's particularly true on the blue line where the average player, and there are 10 of them, comes in at just under 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds.

Gray won't be thinking about them on draft day, though.

"You can't predict at what pace some of these guys may develop and you can't predict the injury factor, if someone is to get hurt," he said. "You need depth in your organization, you need it throughout ...

"You're drafting to make your organization strong."

tpecoskie@thespec.com

905-526-3368 | @TeriatTheSpec

Bulldogs looking for ‘character’ with third pick of Saturday’s OHL draft

Sports Apr 07, 2016 by Teri Pecoskie The Hamilton Spectator

It's no surprise the Hamilton Bulldogs are remaining tight-lipped in the lead up to the Ontario Hockey League draft.

But here's what they will say:

"We're going to pick the best player available that is in line with our philosophy and our values here in Hamilton. I've been quite open about talking about character — that's one thing that's in the forefront in any player we're evaluating. We know if you're a character person, a good person, you're going to come in and put in the effort."

That's president and general manager Steve Staios talking. The sentiment, though, is echoed by his staff.

According to head scout Dave Gray, the focus in Saturday's draft is on finding a skilled player that can make and create plays, maybe score some goals or run a power play and "be a puck carrier back there."

That being said, neither he nor Staios will spill on whether they're eyeing a forward or a defenceman, let alone names. And the truth is the jury might still be out.

Here's the situation. With Flint forced to give up their first round selection — one of several sanctions imposed by the OHL on wayward owner Rolf Nilsen — Hamilton moves up to third overall. The move is small, yet significant, since, with several top prospects threatening not to report to the scandal-plagued club, it was nearly impossible to predict who the Firebirds would choose.

So that removes one unknown. The only problem is the Bulldogs still don't know who Guelph and Sudbury will pick ahead of them, and there's no clear consensus among scouts.

"This draft has a lot of really good hockey players, but there's just not that John Tavares-type player at the top of the draft where it's automatic," said Gray. "I think you could make an argument for a lot of players in the top 10. It's really close that way."

After watching thousands of players and hundreds of games, however, the Bulldogs scouts and managers have narrowed the field to three possibilities, maybe four. Staios said he's been in contact with all of them, and they're committed to the team if their name is called.

"The one thing that's been very positive and quite overwhelming is the response we've had from players and parents and agents, that they'd love to have the player play in Hamilton," he said. "They feel very confident and strong about what we're doing here, our approach and our values as an organization."

Whether there's room for them is another issue.

All but one of this year's Bulldogs — the OHL's youngest team — is eligible to return next season, which means the competition come training camp will be fierce. That's particularly true on the blue line where the average player, and there are 10 of them, comes in at just under 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds.

Gray won't be thinking about them on draft day, though.

"You can't predict at what pace some of these guys may develop and you can't predict the injury factor, if someone is to get hurt," he said. "You need depth in your organization, you need it throughout ...

"You're drafting to make your organization strong."

tpecoskie@thespec.com

905-526-3368 | @TeriatTheSpec