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 »  Home  »  Sports & Leisure  »  Battalion Eying Blue Line for First Round Saturday
Battalion Eying Blue Line for First Round Saturday
By Brampton Battalion | Published  04/29/2010 | Sports & Leisure | Rating:
Brampton Battalion
The Brampton Battalion are a junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League.  Battalion Headquarters: Brampton Battalion Hockey Club, 7575 Kennedy Rd. South, Brampton, Ontario L6W 4T2 Phone: (905) 874-2393 Email: info@battalionhockey.com.  Brampton native Stuart McComish has served as the Battalion's website co-ordinator since Februrary 2000.  Visit the Brampton Battalion for more information. 

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Brampton - Armed with a group of promising young forwards but facing significant losses to graduation on the back end, the Brampton Battalion is expected to look for help on the blue line when Ontario Hockey League clubs start selecting 1994-born talent Saturday.

The Battalion likely will take a defenceman when it exercises the ninth overall pick in the 15-round OHL Priority Selection, scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and to be conducted via the Internet for a 10th consecutive year. The 20 OHL teams will make their picks from remote locations connected to the league office.

With the graduation of overage defencemen Brad Albert and Ken Peroff and the promotion of Matt Clark to the professional ranks, Stan Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach, said help on the blue line is paramount.

“Our big need is defence,” said Butler, who hasn’t chosen a rearguard in the first round since taking John de Gray in 2004. “That’s something we need to address but, if a defenceman isn’t there when we pick that we like and believe in, we’ll look at the best player available.”

The Battalion earned 64 points in the regular season, 13th in the OHL, which normally would give the club the eighth overall pick. But the Troops and subsequent teams were bumped back one spot when the Niagara IceDogs, who also own the sixth selection, were awarded a second first-round pick at No. 8 as compensation for the failure to report of left winger Lucas Lessio, Niagara’s first-round choice in 2009.

“What we do will depend on what the seven teams ahead of us do with the first eight picks,” said Butler. “We’ll see what happens. We have our list done and we know where we have guys rated. We’ll see who’s there when we pick.”

Bob Wetick, Battalion director of scouting, said via telephone that there is blue line depth in the incoming age group.

“It’s heavily weighted towards defencemen, particularly in the United States. And that’s carried over here in Ontario, although there are a large number of very good centres, particularly left shots. It’s thinner on the wings, and there are a small number of elite goaltenders.

“We’re losing three valuable defencemen who played a lot of minutes. They’ll be tough to replace. We think there’s an opportunity to get a good player at nine that we feel can come in and play for us. As for our next pick, we’ll have to wait and see and cross our fingers and see what players come off the board.”

The Battalion, which owns 16 picks, including at least one in every round except the second and fourth, traded its second- and fourth-round picks in January, 2009. The Troops delivered their second-round choice to the Guelph Storm in the deal for goaltender Thomas McCollum a day after sending their fourth-round pick to the Kingston Frontenacs for left winger Matt Kang.

The Battalion, which traded its own third-round pick to the Plymouth Whalers for defenceman Zack Shepley on Dec. 7, 2007, will exercise the second-last pick in that round, acquired from the Owen Sound Attack for left winger Mike Lomas on June 24, 2008. The pick originally belonged to the Windsor Spitfires.

“We have some challenges this year since we have tried to take a run at winning the OHL title the last couple of years,” noted Butler. “We’ll take a hit without a second and a fourth, but I’m not too concerned about that. I think our scouts do a pretty good job.”

The Battalion has two picks in each of the fifth, seventh and 15th rounds.

In addition to its own selection in the fifth, the Battalion has the first pick in the round, received from the Sarnia Sting on June 26, 2007, for right winger Matt Smyth. In the seventh round, the Troops have their own pick and another seven spots later, acquired from the Ottawa 67’s on June 10, 2009, for right winger Andrew Merrett.

The Battalion owns back-to-back selections in the 15th round, the club’s own pick and Kingston’s, acquired for defenceman Stephane Chabot on Sept. 25, 2007.

“I’ve always been proud of the work our scouts have done later in the draft,” said Butler. “To me, that’s the sign of a hardworking scouting staff. Teams that have hardworking scouts like ours will benefit in the later rounds.”

In 12 OHL Priority Selections, the Battalion has chosen 227 players, comprising 126 forwards, 72 defencemen and 29 goaltenders. Of that group, 98 players, numbering 58 forwards, 30 defencemen and 10 goaltenders, have played at least one game with the club.

Sarnia is expected to announce Friday that it willl select centre Alex Galchenyuk of the Chicago Young Americans minor midgets with the first overall pick.

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