Ty Nelson has joined some elite company. The Toronto native was selected first overall in the 2020 OHL Draft by the North Bay Battalion, joining the likes of Connor McDavid, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Travis Konecny, Quinton Byfield and most recently Shane Wright.
Drafted Number One
Nelson said in an interview with the BTS Hockey Podcast on Monday that he considers it an honor:
“It’s been an amazing couple of months. It’s definitely something that I dreamed of as a little boy playing hockey. It’s a dream to get drafted, and it’s a dream to get drafted number one overall. Having that title of being drafted number one overall is such an honor and I will definitely wear it proud.”
The 5-foot-8 defenseman took the call from North Bay and he said his nerves took over a bit, something that doesn’t happen often, but is understandable:
“That was the first call where I rarely spoke. I was lost for words, my mom and dad started crying. My sister was jumping around with joy. It was an amazing call. I think if I spoke some more it would have been better because I was so lost for words. It’s definitely a call that an Ontario boy can dream of.”
Nelson recently posted a picture of a billboard with his face on it welcoming him to the city on his Twitter. When he was asked about the quick change in his life over the past couple of months, he just laughed and said it was one of the most surreal experiences he’s had so far.
“It’s indescribable how cool it is. When do you think that you’re going to have your name on a billboard with your face on it? A small little town that’s all about hockey. I talked to a couple guys on the draft day, the captain Luke Moncada and Liam Arnsby. Liam and I had a really good conversation and he said North Bay is an amazing place to play hockey because one, it’s a great organization, two, (they have) great fans and three because the town is so into hockey.
If you go into the town on a Tuesday morning, you’ll have four or five little kids coming up wanting to take a picture with you or get an autograph. I’m definitely really looking forward to getting there and get ready to get playing.”
Nelson had the chance to represent Canada in the Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland this winter and helped Team Canada win the bronze medal with a victory over Finland. He said that experience was something he won’t forget any time soon:
“It was an absolute honor. We are fortunate enough to be in one of the birth years where we were able to wear the Canadian crest before most kids would have with the U-17s. It was a great time getting to meet the players from across Canada. We did the best we could. The team bonded well. The way Hockey Canada controlled everything and organized the days was fantastic. I’m hoping I can do it at every age and every chance I can.”
Preparing for His Rookie Year
There are high expectations for Nelson above the fact that he was selected first. In the past couple of years, we have seen elite seasons from fellow defensemen Jamie Drysdale and Brandt Clarke, so it will be a challenge for Nelson to match them.
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Despite the stoppage of play due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nelson said that he is doing his best in top shape, so he can be ready to achieve his goals when the season starts:
“I’m working out three times a week with a sports specific trainer out of San Diego. The other three days a week, I’m going for runs, doing cardio, lifting weights. I’m stick-handling four or five times a week, and going out on my roller blades two or three times a week. Definitely trying to stay as busy as I can. Doing my school work, keeping my grades up as high as possible.”
With so much time spent at home over the past couple weeks, Nelson said there has been a lot more time spent with his family, and he is trying to cherish every second of it.
“Now that I have the opportunity to move away and go to North Bay, I’ll have to billet there. I won’t be able to see them as much as I do now. I get to hang out with them, talk, have fun. My mom is helping me with my homework. We’re bonding more, and doing a lot more things together, which is amazing because I’m going to miss that a lot when I’m gone.”
Moving away from home at 16 isn’t easy for any player, so Nelson isn’t alone. However, his love of the game is what continues to move his career forward and will continue to do so, even after he has left North Bay.
“Besides family and school, hockey is the most important thing in my life. I’ll do anything that’s possible to make myself better, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make that end goal of playing in the NHL possible. Hockey is the thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. I think about it at all times. It is definitely my love.”
While being a top draft pick does not necessarily translate to success, there is every reason to believe in Nelson will be an elite talent in the 2022 NHL Draft class.
He knows it won’t happen overnight. Nothing worth doing ever does. However, his love of hockey shines through, and his work ethic will keep eyes on him throughout the rest of his career.