The Ontario Hockey League held their annual draft on Saturday and two players with verbal commitments to attend Wisconsin were selected.
If you're not familiar with the OHL, it's a junior hockey league based primarily out of Canada that the NCAA considers professional because some players that play in the league have been signed to NHL contracts. Any player playing in the league automatically forfeits their NCAA eligibility by playing, or signing with an OHL team.
This years draft was held mostly to draft players born in the 1996 birth year. Wisconsin has two players committed from that birth year, and they were both selected on Saturday.
The Plymouth Whalers used their 9th round selection to draft 2014 Badger recruit Jake Linhart. The Brookfield, Wisconsin native is a defenseman who currently plays for the Chicago Mission U16 team.
I interviewed Linhart in October and asked him if the OHL may be something he would consider. Linhart quickly noted that it wasn't something he was interested in.
"I really didn't give the OHL much consideration," Linhart said.
Plymouth took a shot at another Badger later in the draft when the selected 2015 Badger recruit Seamus Malone in the 14th round. Malone, a forward from Naperville, Illiinois plays on the same Chicago Mission U16 club with Linhart.
We spoke with Malone after he made his Badger commitment just a few weeks ago. Like Linhart, Malone didn't seem to have too much interest in the major junior route.
"Of course it's an option, but education has always been a priority for my family," Malone said. "My oldest sister graduated from Illinois and Loyola Law School. My second sister graduated from Indiana."
While it's certainly something to keep in mind when assessing the future of two players who won't be on campus for 2-3 years, I wouldn't be overly concerned with Linhart and Malone's selections in Saturday's draft.
After the first couple of rounds, OHL teams start taking fliers on players, sometimes knowing that it's going to take a miracle to convince them to report. Malone and Linhart were drafted so low that Badger fans shouldn't lose too much sleep over it.
It probably says a lot about what Plymouth thinks about their chances with the two future Badgers, as neither player was mentioned on the teams website in assessing their draft selections.
Possibly noteworthy is that two other Badger recruiting targets, Christian Novak (Chicago Mission U16), and Ryan Mantha (Belle Tire U16) were also selected on Saturday. Novak was taken in the 8th round by London, and Mantha in the 5th round by the Soo Greyhounds.
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