If Alex Pietrangelo can back up his bravado with his play in a Mississauga IceDogs uniform, the Ontario Hockey League club may have gotten their paws on a gem.
Pietrangelo was the third pick overall yesterday in the OHL draft and didn't hesitate telling a couple of reporters what he sees in the IceDogs' crystal ball.
"One day, we're going to win a Memorial Cup here," the 6-foot-2, 185-pound defenceman said.
"I'm going to do everything in my power to make this a winning franchise. It's a tough road, but you know what? If we work hard enough, we will be able to (win a Cup)."
The Sarnia Sting chose centre Steven Stamkos first and his Markham Waxers minor midgets teammate, Michael Del Zotto, went to the Oshawa Generals at No. 2. The St. Michael's Majors chose the Waxers centre Dylan O'Neil with the 10th pick. Selecting 17th, the Brampton Battalion went with another member of the Waxers, centre Cody Hodgson.
Meanwhile, the Staal family of Thunder Bay officially had another brother become a part of the OHL, as Jared, a right winger, went 11th to the Sudbury Wolves. Jared follows his brothers Eric (Peterborough Petes, now with the Carolina Hurricanes), Marc (Sudbury) and Jordan (Peterborough) into the league.
Though Pietrangelo, a 16-year-old native of King City and a relative of one-time NHL goalie Frank Pietrangelo, predicts big things for the IceDogs, for now coach Greg Gilbert will settle on getting back to the playoffs.
A year ago, the IceDogs finished first in the Eastern Conference but fell out of post-season contention this season. Pietrangelo should be a nice addition in 2006-07, as will left winger Travis Fuller.
The latter, who led the Barrie Colts in the playoffs with 13 goals and was second with 20 points, will be acquired from the Colts to complete an earlier trade.
"I would be very disappointed if we weren't at least in the middle of the pack or pushing the top side next year," Gilbert said. "We expect to be better in all areas. (Pietrangelo) is going to be a big part of it, no question. He is smart, very calculating as a player. He puts the opposition players where he wants them."
OHL commissioner David Branch, who also is the president of the Canadian Hockey League, said there were no applications for exceptional player status in any of the three major junior leagues this spring.
Last year, John Tavares was given the green light to enter the draft a year early and had an excellent season with Generals after being taken first overall, recording 77 points (45 goals and 32 assists) in 65 games.
"Tavares set the bar very high," Branch said.