NORTH BAY, Ont. – The North Bay Battalion chose centre Owen Outwater of the Oakville Rangers U16 with its first-round pick Friday night in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
North Bay, awarded the 11th overall choice via a May 5 lottery, made four picks through the first three rounds of the 15-round online process, which resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday with the Battalion exercising 12 picks from the fourth through 15th rounds.
“With the two-day format, it’s pretty exciting to be able to split up the picks over two days and really focus in on these top three rounds,” said general manager Adam Dennis.
Outwater, a left shot, recorded 34 goals and added 32 assists for 66 points in 37 games in the 2019-20 season, the last before hockey was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. A six-foot-three, 170-pound resident of Orleans, Ont., who turned 16 on Jan. 4, he was one of five Rangers chosen in the first round.
“North Bay’s a great organization,” said Outwater. “I’ve watched a ton of North Bay games, and it’s really exciting hockey. I’m really excited for what the future is going to hold.”
Outwater, who described himself as a “good playmaker,” said: “I’m a pass-first guy and I don’t shy away from scoring goals. I’m a good team player. I don’t shy away from the physical game either. I’m good in the corners and in front of the net. I pride myself on playing a 200-foot, all-round game.”
Dennis said he wasn’t sure Outwater would be available at No. 11.
“We had an idea what we would do. We had a list and we had done a lot of homework, but we really didn’t know who was going to be there. We knew there were a couple of teams that could have been wild cards, and they were. With Owen, we thought he would have been gone a little sooner. We hoped he would be there.
“He was an awesome interview with us. He’s really excited to come to North Bay, which is awesome for us.”
The Troops’ second-round pick, 27th overall, was right winger Nic Sima of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, who produced 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points in 31 games in 2019-20. A six-foot 185-pounder from Mississauga, Sima turned 16 on March 31.
“He was one of our first interviews and he oozes character,” noted Dennis. “He’s such a great kid. It was almost unfair for all the interviews after him, because he set the bar high. He’s everything you want in a player. He’s big, he skates well and he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas. His teammates love him.”
The Battalion had two third-round picks, using the first, 41st overall, on a teammate of Sima, right-shot centre Anthony Romani. A Pickering, Ont., resident, he scored 28 goals and added 13 assists for 41 points in 32 games in 2019-20. The five-foot-10 160-pounder turns 16 on July 12.
“He’s got a lot of high-end skill,” Dennis said of Romani. “He has to mature physically, and what he can do with the puck is something not many can. He played on one of the better teams at that age group, and he led that team in scoring for the last couple of years.
“After getting our first two guys, we really coveted a guy who can put the puck in the net, and he’s got skill and speed. We thought he was a guy who might go a little bit earlier.”
With the 50th overall pick, the Troops tabbed right-shot defenceman Wyatt Kennedy of the Rockland Nationals U18. A six-foot-four, 185-pound resident of Limoges, Ont., east of Ottawa, Kennedy had 19 points, including eight goals, in 30 games in 2019-20. He turned 16 on May 27.
“He’s got a lot of raw ability,” said Dennis. “He’s a big boy, and his mobility is so impressive for a kid his size. He was another awesome interview. He really understands his game and knows what he has to do to get to the next level. He has a lot of potential, and we’re looking forward to developing it.”
Dennis, who said the club accomplished its goals for the first three rounds, acknowledged there’s more work to do.
“It was long for us today doing all our homework to get ready, and it’s nice to have some time to reset and go over our list again and go over some organizational needs, because there are some areas we’d like to fill in our depth. From our standpoint, there are still a lot of good names on the board that can play in our league one day.”
The Sudbury Wolves, who got the first overall pick in the lottery, the first in OHL history, announced that selection Thursday, choosing right winger Quentin Musty of the North Jersey Avalanche. With no final standings from the cancelled 2020-21 season, the order of picks reverses in each round in what’s known as a snake format.