Erie Otters Add Size & Speed at the OHL Draft

Finally, we have something to talk about surrounding the Erie Otters and the Ontario Hockey League that doesn’t involve the canceled season or the pandemic. 299 players got to realize their dream.

The OHL held their annual Priority Selection Draft on Friday and Saturday. The first three rounds were held Friday with rounds 4-15 held on Saturday. Normally 300 players get to hear their name called. But this year, it was one less because the Niagara Icedogs had to forfeit their first-round pick this season due to a violation in player recruitment rules.

The Erie Otters held the 10th overall pick thanks to the results of the OHL Draft Lottery. They used that pick on C Carey Terrance for the Kemptville 73’s U-18 team. He’s a 6-foot, 170-pound center who is considered by some as one of the best skaters in this entire draft.

That’s where the story of this draft starts for the Otters.

Speed Was Their Priority

The Otters came into this draft knowing they wanted to continue to add speed to their lineup. Drafting Terrance 10th overall confirms that. Then they continued to add speed to their offense with their second pick when they drafted Taeo Artichuk. Although he is smaller at just 5-foot-10, he too is a dynamic skater who has an extra gear when needed.

Here is what was said about Terrance and Artichuk.

“Carey (Terrance) is a skilled player with elite feet and edge work. He uses his skating as an asset in all three zones. Carey plays with pace, making quick and precise decisions. On the offensive side of the puck, he uses his speed to beat defenders wide, his vision to distribute to open teammates, and is fearless in taking pucks to the net.  Carey is challenging to play against on both sides of the puck as he is fast on the forecheck, closes gaps quickly, and takes away opponents’ time and space in a hurry.”

Devin Brown, Co-Director of Scouting, Erie Otters

“Taeo is a skilled forward with solid feet and a second gear that he uses to his advantage. He plays in all situations, averaged 2.18 points per game last season, and is a leader amongst his team. Taeo demonstrates a strong work ethic in all three zones. He handles the puck well at his top speed, driving the net with and without the puck, and can find open teammates with crisp passes. An ultra-competitor, Taeo sacrifices his body blocking shots, gets his stick into passing/shooting lanes, and forechecks quickly. He is one of the hardest-working players in the draft.”

Devin Brown, Co-Director of Scouting, Erie Otters

The game is getting faster and faster as every season passes. GM Dave Brown knows this and acknowledges that was part of the reason the Otters went in this direction to start the draft.

“I think the way the game is moving now at the NHL level I think the idea is we want to play a fast-paced game,” Brown said. “We want to make it uncomfortable for our opponents. Carey and Taeo up front are quick guys and are going to be able to close out time and space.”

Dave Brown, OHL, Erie Otters
GM Dave Brown wanted speed on his team as that’s where the game is going. (Photo courtesy of the OHL)

Certainly there’s a lot that has to work themselves out as we close in on a potential training camp in September. But based on what the Otters have said about their first two picks, it would not surprise me to see them in an Otters’ uniform in the fall with a good chance of making the opening night lineup.

Otters Added Size Too

With their third pick on Friday, the Otters invested in defenseman Nathan Sauder. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Sauder is a smooth-skating stay at home defenseman who can play a physical game. Anytime you draw comparisons to Scott Stevens, you take notice.

“Nathan’s got great feet,” Brown said. “I think he’d tell you he plays a Scott Stevens type game.”

Here’s what Devin Brown said about Sauder.

“Nathan is a very athletic individual who demonstrates a strong work ethic. A right-shot defenseman that plays a physical brand of hockey, making things hard on opponents in the corners, along the walls, and in front of the net. Nathan uses his stick effectively to angle opponents, taking away time and space, and backs it up with his body. In addition, Nathan produces an excellent first pass, making it easy for his forwards to transition to offense.”

Devin Brown, Co-Director of Scouting, Erie Otters

Then with their first pick on Saturday at 70th overall, the Otters landed perhaps one of the best bargains of the draft in defenseman George Alboim. He’s already 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds. He’s also a good skater with some offensive instincts. Again here’s Brown with what they see in Alboim.

“George is a complete right-shot defenseman who demonstrates a strong work ethic both on and off the ice. George takes care of his defensive zone and likes to contribute offensively as well.  Managing the puck effectively, joining the rush, and supporting his forwards in the offensive zone was a strength that stood out to us. In addition, George displays a ton of confidence, is super competitive and a natural leader, captaining his team for the last five years.”

Devin Brown, Co-Director of Scouting, Erie Otters

In the end, the Otters had a game plan to get the players they wanted despite the challenges the pandemic presented. Dave Brown admitted the team put the players through a lengthy interview process. They not only wanted good players, they wanted players of character. It seems they got that and then some based on what is being said about them.

Ever since the 2017 championship season, it’s been a rebuild for the Otters. They would have been a playoff team had the 2019-20 season been completed. They’ve addressed some needs but now will look towards training camp to see what they need to do in order to be ready for an October start.

OHL, Erie Otters, Chris Hartsburg
The Otters will now look towards training camp in September. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

But if this draft proved anything, it’s that the Otters are preparing to play a fast, physical style of hockey. They prioritized size and skating with their picks. Expect this to be their approach at the drafts moving forward.

Welcoming the Other New Otters

Here is the entire list of players taken by the Otters at the OHL Priority Selection.

RoundPick NumberPlayer (Phonetic Pronunciation)Team
110Carey Terrance (Terr-antz)Kemptville 73’s U18 AAA
221Taeo Artichuk (TAY- ō)Toronto Marlboros U16 AAA
354Nathan SauderMississauga Reps U16 AAA
470George AlboimCentral Ontario Wolves U16 AAA
5No Selection  
6103Braxton RossOttawa Senators U18AAA
7128Chase PirtleNorth Jersey Avalanche 16U
7129Ryan HarveyAjax-Pickering Raiders 16U AAA
8143JJ (John) FranceschettiMississauga Reps U16 AAA
8150Dylan EdwardsToronto Titans U16 AAA
9169Seamus Lockhart (SHAY-muss)Kemptville 73’s U18 AAA
10No Pick  
11209Aiden HopewellWashington Little Capital 15’s
12230Andrew McIsaacAjax-Pickering Raiders 16U AAA
13249Teegan MiddletonHuron-Perth Lakers U16 AAA
13252Jack EricksonAjax-Pickering Raiders 16U AAA
14th270Braeden Shaikh (Shake)Oakville Rangers U16 AAA
15th289Jordan LathamToronto Nationals U16 AAA

As for what’s next, barring any changes to the plan, OHL training camps are expected to open on Labor Day weekend. That’s just three months from now. The season will be here before you know it. But before we end this, we have to acknowledge the history made on Saturday.

OHL Makes History

For the first time in OHL History, a female was drafted by an OHL team. The Sarnia Sting drafted goalie Taya Currie in the 14th round with the 267th overall pick. It’s a huge moment for the league and the sport that everyone should embrace. Here is her interview with Sportsnet’s Ron MacLean after her selection by the Sting.

Congrats to Currie on this truly amazing achievement.