The 2019 OHL Priority Selection is in the rear-view mirror, however, there’s no time like the present to reflect on what was one of the most skilled draft classes in quite some time.
We all know that Shane Wright was nabbed by the Kingston Frontenacs with the first overall selection, and that a number of wildly talented players who will have an instant impact in the OHL next season followed closely behind the latest player to be granted exceptional status. However, very little time has been taken to discuss those who were not chosen in the 2019 OHL Draft — of which there are were a number of substantial omissions.
So, as we continue to break down and analyze the 2019 OHL Draft, we’ve taken the time to profile and highlight four players and one goaltender who should have been drafted this past April, yet were not. All five of these young men boast incredible skill and the personal drive necessary to become impact players in the immediate future.
Exactly why these five youngsters went un-drafted will forever remain a mystery, however, the fact remains that all of which continue to hold bright futures in the game.
5 Un-Drafted Gems
Here are — listed in alphabetical order — our top-five players who were not chosen in the 2019 OHL Draft who unquestionably should have been. Of the five, four of which skated in the GTHL last season while one put one an impressive performance in the T1EHL.
2018-19 Team: Mississauga Rebels (GTHL)
2018-19 Statistics: 7G, 16PTS
Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 212th
Although his offensive production didn’t jump off of the sheet, Joshua Cini is a player who deserved to be drafted in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. A hard-working forward and tireless skater, Cini consistently displayed the ability to generate offensive opportunities for the Mississauga Rebels this past season. With an engine that never quits, Cini displayed his strong skating abilities and work-ethic with each passing game and came to play a vital two-way role for the Rebels.
While his plans for the upcoming 2019-20 season remain unknown thus far, it goes without saying that Cini could very well embark on an OHL career in the immediate future. If he chooses to play his Midget season in the GTHL, there is no question that Cini will be selected by an OHL franchise in the U18 Priority Selection — his skill-set and work-ethic will be simply too valuable to pass upon a second time around.
2018-19 Team: Toronto Titans (GTHL)
2018-19 Statistics: 56GP: 8G, 20PTS
Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 237th
It’s no secret that the Toronto Titans were amongst the poorest team’s in the GTHL this past season — the club battled to a 3-25-5 record. However, despite the state of the Titans’ season, the club featured more than its fair share of bright spots. Alongside the impressive performances of Amadeus Lombardi and Andras Mihalik was Anthony Demkiw — a skilled centre who represented the Titans at the annual GTHL Top Prospects Game.
Although of a smaller stature, Demkiw battled tirelessly in each passing game and quickly became a fixture for the Titans in a variety of situations. A skilled puck-handler who oozes creativity, Demkiw displayed the ability to generate offensive opportunities for his team in the face of over-whelming competition while providing a physical edge as well. If Demkiw can contribute offensively on a more consistent basis, he should have a long future ahead of himself in the sport.
2018-19 Team: Mississauga Senators (GTHL)
2018-19 Statistics: 11G, 18PTS
Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 209th
After appearing in a handful of games for the Vaughan Kings as a bantam player in the 2017-18 campaign, expectations surrounding Ethan Esposito were at a high as he entered into his minor midget campaign. However, skating as a member of the Mississauga Senators in 2018-19, Esposito battled with horrid puck luck throughout the season and played to deflated offensive totals as a direct result.
As an extremely hard-working winger who never takes a shift off, it came as a massive surprise to see that Esposito was not selected on draft day. All throughout the 2018-19 season, Esposito displayed the ability to single-handedly generate offensive opportunities for his team while playing a physical role to boot. However, as mentioned earlier, tough puck luck hampered the youngster’s offensive output — a reality which surely affected him as the 2019 OHL Draft unwound.
In short, don’t be surprised to see Esposito play a starring role for a team in the immediate future — whether it be at the OHL-level or not.
2018-19 Team: Toronto Nationals (GTHL)
Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 3rd (Goaltenders)
All throughout the 2018-19 GTHL season, Samuel Moncada was virtually unbeatable. Playing a style eerily similar to that of Jonathan Quick, Moncada regularly made highlight-reels saves and was a crucial component within a highly successful Toronto Nationals’ team. Moreover, Moncada was named to the GTHL Top Prospects Game and regularly gave the Don Mills Flyers fits in their explosive matchups this past season.
However, come the 2019 OHL Draft, Moncada did not hear his name called. As one of the most electrifying goaltenders competing within Ontario this past campaign, Moncada’s omission came as an absolute shock to the minor midget hockey community. Ranked as the third-best goaltender eligible for the draft in our final goaltender ranking of the season, Moncada was likely inhibited on draft day by his small stature — a ridiculous misconception which continues to be held by the vast majority of OHL franchises.
Sure, he battled injury too, but Moncada’s raw skill-set is simply to impressive to pass upon. In short, a team will be very pleased to have Moncada this coming season.
2018-19 Team: North Jersey Avalanche (T1EHL)
2018-19 Statistics: 44GP: 32G, 72PTS (AYHL+T1EHL)
Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 193rd
A shifty skater and natural playmaker, it appeared as though Dante Palombo was destined to be selected by an OHL franchise during the 2019 Priority Selection. Across his 44 games played during the 2018-19 season, Palombo recorded a combined 32 goals and 72 points — an output which established him as an offensive dynamo for the North Jersey Avalanche. However, the 2019 OHL Draft came and went, and Palombo’s name was not called.
Well-known for his ability to generate offensive opportunities while playing with grit and a physical edge, Palombo has the skill-set necessary to thrive at the next-level of competition. And, although he likely wouldn’t have been able to ascend to the major-junior ranks this coming season owing to his improving size and strength, Palombo’s innate skill-set should allow him to become an impactful player at the next-level — whether that comes in the OHL or not. Ultimately, OHL teams may regret passing on Palombo, as he holds the potential to become a dynamic force in the seasons ahead.