By Fred Wallace
Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire ".
The 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup Hockey tournament opened yesterday in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Canada lost their opening match in a shootout, 4-3 to Russia and will meet Finland this morning.
Today, the Canadian entry faces Finland.
Team Canada has 7 Ontario Hockey League players on the 22 man squad.
Interestingly, of the 7 OHL reps on the Canadian roster which includes Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack, 5 are first rounders from the 2016 Priority Selection...( 6 if you count Jack McBain who was drafted by Barrie but elected not to report last season ).
Ryan Merkley was the 1st overall selection by Guelph, Ty Dellandrea went 5th to Flint, Barrett Hayton went 9th to the Sault Greyhounds- 1 selection ahead of Dudas and Akil Thomas, who may end up being the best of the bunch, went 12th in his draft year to Niagara.
To me, the number of OHL'ers seems low, which could be attributed to a number of factors.
1) politics may have played a factor; that is, I've heard previously that sometimes Hockey Canada tries for a national balance on such teams.
2) eligibility definitely would be a factor since 4 of the first 8 selections in the 2016 Priority Selection where from nations other than Canada...which might be a topic for another day
& 3) a lot of things, positive and negative, can impact a players development from Draft Day to the prime U18 event, which occurs in a span of about 15 months.
And while 15 months may seem like a short period of time, in junior hockey, a year & a quarter can be career shaping or defining.
Regardless, we'll watch the Ivan Hlinka Tournament with great interest this week as Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack shoots for Gold with Team Canada.
I'm Fred Wallace