Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Whalers ready for OHL draft this Saturday

Fresh off winning a ninth West Division title in their 16-year history, the Plymouth Whalers will select 13th overall in Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

The draft – performed by the 20 OHL teams via the internet - can be followed in real time Saturday starting at 9:00 a.m. by going to The Whalers’ website – – will have complete details about the Plymouth selections as the draft unfolds.

Besides having the 13th selection in the first round, Plymouth has 12 other selections in the 15-round, 300-player draft.

“With so many players returning from last year’s team, we’re looking for the best player we can at thirteenth,” said Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci. “We may also sign some of the players we selected from last year’s draft.”

Plymouth has at least 12 players returning from last season. All 12 came from the team’s last three drafts:

2003: Dan Collins (2nd round), James Neal (3rd round), Ryan McGinnis (4th round), Justin Garay (8th round), Zack Shepley (10th round) and Andrew Fournier (11th round) are all regulars and are expected to play significant roles next season. In addition, Michael Lombardi (1st round) and Tony Iaquinto (7th round) made the team, but were later traded.

2004: John Armstrong (1st round) and Tom Sestito (5th round) are regulars and will see significant roles next season. In addition, Cory Tanaka (2nd round), played a season and a half with the Whalers before being traded. Jeff McFarland (4th round) and Jake Helmick (4th) also saw some action with Plymouth, but have both moved on.

2005: Chris Terry (2nd round) and Joe Gaynor (2nd round) made the Whalers last season and are expected to fill key roles in 2006-07. Jeremy Smith (4th round) and Leo Jenner (4th round) could see bigger roles next year.

Plymouth can play three overage players – or 1986 birthdays - as well. Current overage candidates include defenseman Steve Ward, forwards Evan Brophey, Jared Boll and Ryan Stephenson and goaltender Justin Peters. Right wing Gino Pisellini recently signed with the Philadelphia Flyers and will start his pro career in the minor leagues next season.

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