OHL to vote on younger draft

TERRY KOSHAN and MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

John Tavares is excited about the possibility of one day playing in the Ontario Hockey League but for now is keeping all of his hockey doors open.

Even though that OHL door could open a lot sooner than he expected it would.

The league's board of governors today will vote on whether to allow the drafting of players born in 1990. If the rule passes, the drafting of 14-year-old players would be restricted to the four teams that did not make the playoffs -- in this case, in order, the Oshawa Generals, Sarnia Sting, Saginaw Spirit and Kingston Frontenacs -- with the first four picks of the OHL priority selection on May 7.

OPPORTUNITY

"It's another option and a great opportunity for me (if the rule passes)," Tavares, who will be 15 in September, said. "It's a good possibility to end up (in the OHL) one day. I'm still deciding (what he will do next season)."

An OHL source said last night there was no guarantee the rule would be passed. Fifteen of the 20 teams have to vote in favour for the rule to pass.

A member of the Toronto Marlies minor midgets, Tavares, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound centre, also had 23 points in 16 regular-season games for the tier-II Milton Icehawks this season.

Apparently, there is not much Tavares can't do within the confines of a hockey rink.

He is more highly regarded for the draft than the crop of players born in 1989.

So why is the league looking at this rule, which has major controversy written all over it?

The OHL, which presently does not allow the drafting of players under the age of 15, does not want to risk losing a player of Tavares' calibre to a league such as the United States Hockey League. Tavares said the Indiana Ice of the USHL has expressed interest and he attended an Ice game this season.

"We (major junior) have made a commitment to reduce 16-year-olds to two and to reduce the number of imports (Europeans), but there is also a provision in place to deal with the exceptional player (such as Tavares)," OHL commissioner David Branch told The Fan 590, referring to the committee's recommendations that will be put before Hockey Canada at its annual general meeting in May.

"We're trying to work with Hockey Canada so we can see some sanity brought back into the development system. We are not bringing this in just because of John Tavares. This is a by-product of this committee."

Oshawa general manager Brad Selwood said the situation was intriguing.

"If they pass this rule, I will think about taking him," Selwood said.

"But I won't think about it until we get the go-ahead."


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