Express centre OHL's top choice

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Daniel Catenacci won't need a lot of phone calls to thank his coach, team staff and parents when he's selected first overall in the Ontario Hockey League draft.

They're under the same roof as part of the Newmarket-based York Simcoe Express organization that could see three and possibly four of its prospects go in the first round and a total of 10 overall this weekend.

Catenacci, a creative and speedy 5-foot-10 centre, will be introduced tonight by the Soo Greyhounds as the No. 1 pick. On hand will be his father, Maurice, the coach of the minor midget Express and mother Nancy, the organization's equipment person and executive.

"I'm proud for myself, my wife, for Daniel and all our boys," said Maurice, who played 16 years in Europe and spent some time in the St. Louis Blues chain.

"Not all of our boys will get drafted because some need that extra year to get through puberty, but it has been rewarding for me to have five of them (including Daniel) be in the core group for five years since minor novice."

When the entire draft unfolds tomorrow morning, the excitement builds for teammate Ryan Murphy, an offensive defenceman whom many think will go third overall to the Kitchener Rangers. Doug Gilmour's Kingston Frontenacs hold the second ticket, but after hometown defenceman Scott Harrington indicated he'll play in the NCAA next year, Kingston reportedly is switching its focus to former Toronto Jr. Canadien Alan Quine, a Steve Yzerman-type centre.

If the forwards are chosen 1-2, Murphy will be in competition with Justin Sefton of the Notre Dame Hounds to be the first defenceman taken, though a team could gamble on Harrington and hope he changes his mind.

Other members of the Express with first-round credentials are scoring wingers Brandon Francisco and Barclay Goodrow. Together with Catenacci and Murphy, they went to the OMHA minor midget provincial final, losing to the Quinte Red Devils in overtime. But Francisco's verbal commitment to the NCAA's Maine Black Bears has scared a few OHL teams away. The Oshawa Generals, who had expressed interest in Harrington, pick fourth.

York Simcoe, formed in 1990, has sent a number of players to the NHL already -- Brian Elliott, Corey Locke, Steve Downie and B.J. Crombeen.

Son of Popeye picked

Defenceman Seth Jones, son of ex-Raptors shooting guard Popeye Jones, has taken a different athletic path than his father.

Seth, the 15-year-old captain of the Dallas Stars triple-A bantams was chosen 11th overall by the Everett (Wash.) Silvertips in yesterday's Western Hockey League draft. Seth is almost 6-foot-4 already, catching up to his 6-foot-8 father.

"He's a big, strong guy that skates well, can move the puck, plays physical and thinks the game well," one WHL scout said.

The Jones family hasn't committed to the WHL, as it eyes the NCAA route.


Videos

Photos