The day after the OHL Draft is always a day filled with excitement. For many, it’s the first day of new beginnings and it’s 24 hours after letting the great news sink in. The reality is, 301 more players are one step closer to achieving their dreams of playing in the NHL.
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) April 10, 2016
The 2016 OHL Draft isn’t like the NHL Draft in the sense that it takes place somewhere not open to the public and players aren’t waiting around in a “war room”. Instead, they’re waiting anywhere with internet access. That’s what many players from the 2016 OHL Development Combine were doing. They were waiting for their names to show up on the Draft list.
This year’s OHL combine took place from April 1-3, 2016 and it helped OHL club General Managers evaluate players before they drafted them. The combine consisted of 96 top players born in 2000 and tested their speed, strength, stamina, and skill. Amongst these players were five offensive off-ice superstars:
- Eric Guest (London Jr. Knights), drafted second round, No. 47 overall
- Quinn Yule (Central Ontario Wolves), drafted fifth round, No. 84 overall
- Isaac Emon (North Central Predators), drafted eighth round, No. 149 overall
- Liam Peyton (Cumberland Grads), drafted sixth round, No. 118 overall
- Nathan Dunkley (Quinte Red Devils), drafted first round, No. 17 overall
The Emon Phenomenon & the Peterborough Petes
Amongst these five forwards was Isaac Emon, who was drafted by the Peterborough Petes in this year’s OHL Draft. Michael Oke is the General Manager of the Peterborough Petes and he talks to The Hockey Writers regarding the behind-the-scenes activities surrounding the decision to select Emon. “We’ve seen him play throughout the course of the season,” says Oke. “We watched him in regular season games, showcases and playoff games and we’ve been watching him since September.”
The 16-year-old left winger is already 6-foot-1, weighs 170 pounds and is taller than both his parents. “He works hard, has a good level of skill and he competes… he’s always competitive and battling,” says Oke. It’s a little early to pinpoint what need Emon will fill on the team, but now he has an opportunity to show the Petes what he’s made of. “He isn’t afraid to get physical,” Oke continues. “That combined with his skill – we’re happy to have him.”
Many Players Interested in Emon at the OHL Draft
The Peterborough Petes were one of many teams who showed an interest in Emon before the 2016 OHL Draft. He received calls from seven different clubs: London, Niagara, Hamilton, Erie, North Bay, Saginaw, and Windsor. “I didn’t talk to Peterborough,” says Emon. “I got a letter. It just goes to show you that a huge percentage of the time it’s just so unexpected, what’s going to happen to you.”
Calling players before drafting them is one way to screen for character. “They just want to know who you are as a person,” says Emon. “They see where you think you are as a player and what you need to improve on. They want to know what you think of the OHL, what you think school wise, what you do school wise, what else you’re interested in other than hockey…”
Even though Emon himself has yet to speak with the Petes, Oke was able to capture a good sense of his character before drafting him. “We talked to his coaches and his teammates,” Oke tells The Hockey Writers. “We sent a number of different questionnaires to coaches and his coaches from different years. We even sent them to opposition coaches.” That’s how you get a real sense of who a player is. When the opposition has nothing but good things to say, you know you’ve got the right guy.
Emon’s Bread & Butter
Emon says he models himself after Martin St. Louis, who no longer plays in the NHL as of last year. When asked about his mental and physical strength, Emon believes he’s stronger mentally. “I said mentally because being physically strong comes from being mentally strong.” Some teams asked him to define character and explain it in his own words, “I said character is something that defines you as a person. It shows the level of respect and class on and off the ice.”
Clearly, Emon communicates with poise. He’s articulate, well-mannered and speaks beyond his years. He’s in grade 10 and his average is 96 per cent. Both his parents are physicians, “My mom’s a family doctor and my dad is an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon),” says Emon. Eventually, he wants to do something with medicine too, but for or now playing hockey is his priority.
Emon describes his biggest strengths to be his skating, speed, hockey IQ, and vision. “Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working on being a well-rounded player,” Emon continues. “Going into the next level, the game gets faster and you have to be bigger and stronger.” When it comes to his 200-foot game, especially over the last two years, “I’m trying to work on becoming better defensively and in all areas of the ice,” he says. “Good offense spars from good defense. In a game, I want to focus on doing those little defensive things right.”
Emon is a very talented young man with a lot going on. His size and skill, mentality and intelligence are all above that of the average 16-year-old. That’s why he was so heavily sought after. Guys like Emon are continuing to get drafted into the OHL year after year because they’re disciplined. They work hard, they’re good people and they have tons of support at home. After learning about the reasons why the Peterborough Petes drafted him, it’s easy to see why the team is so well-respected. Their players are of the highest quality.