OHL's decision creating headaches

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

John Tavares has given 19 Ontario Hockey League general managers throbbing headaches.

The OHL's decision to allow the underage 14-year-old to enter its entry draft tomorrow has forced teams -- and even one potential player -- to change plans in a hurry.

Oshawa Generals GM Brad Selwood might be the only GM in the 20-team OHL not furiously re-writing his mock draft after he confirmed Tavares as the team's first overall pick yesterday.

"I'm happy we made our selection a couple of days ahead of time," Selwood said. "(Other teams) can go scrambling."

The fun starts with the second pick, owned by the Sarnia Sting. Before Tavares was available, the Gens were prepared to take St. Thomas junior-B centre Logan Couture first. But Couture is making noises about not playing in the OHL.

"It was a goal of mine all year to go first overall," Couture said yesterday. "I'm looking at other options (including several NCAA scholarship offers). I'm not 100% sure yet."

There is speculation, however, that Couture wants to play for the Guelph Storm, which has the fifth pick. Sting GM Alan Millar said he is looking at two players, believed to be Couture and Timmins midget defenceman Mark Katic. Most OHL observers figure Katic is Sarnia-bound.

The Saginaw Spirit, at No. 3, appears set to take Stratford winger Zack Torquato. That could leave the Kingston Frontenacs with a tough decision at No. 4, with Couture unsure to report. Clarington centre Luke Pither would be the Fronts' logical choice if they do not snap up Couture.

"Our job is to take the best player available," Fronts coach Jim Hulton said. "We understand there is a lot of emotion involved, but we're confident in what our city and franchise has to offer. We'll sell the positives."

Another intriguing prospect is Capital District defenceman Nick Petrecki. Ranked first in one independent scouting report, Petrecki is planning to play for Omaha in the USHL next season. But the Plymouth Whalers, at No. 9, and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, at No. 11, may take a gamble.

Needless to say, coaches aren't enjoying the pre-draft games.

"It does bother me," St. Michael's Majors coach Bud Stefanski said. "I wish kids could either opt in or opt out. That would solve a lot of problems, especially with American kids who can always play the under-17 (team) card."

The Majors, at No. 7, could take a look at Toronto Marlboros defenceman Brendan Smith, who doesn't plan to play in the OHL next season, and London defenceman Drew Doughty. The Brampton Battalion, at No. 14, could have Marlies centre Bryan Cameron at St. Mike's Buzzers winger Michael Pelech in mind. The Mississauga IceDogs select 17th.

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TOP PROSPECTS

- A look at how the top five picks could unfold in the OHL entry draft tomorrow (9 a.m., www.ontariohockeyleague.com)

PICK OHL TEAM PLAYER POS. 2004-05 TEAM

1. Oshawa John Tavares C Toronto Marlboros

2. Sarnia Mark Katic D Timmins

3. Saginaw Zack Torquato LW Stratford

4. Kingston Luke Pither C Clarington

5. Guelph Logan Couture C St. Thomas


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