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 Brantford Bulldogs

Bulldogs Open 2024 OHL Draft with 3 Selections Friday

April 12, 2024 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
Brantford Bulldogs News Release

Entering the 2024 OHL Priority Selection Draft, the Brantford Bulldogs will make three selections on the opening Friday night, drafting 14th overall in the 1st round, 23rd overall in the 2nd round & 53rd overall in the 3rd round.

The 23rd overall selection holds significance to the Bulldogs franchise as the last time the team made that selection was in 2022 (with it being deemed in the 1st round) and it was used to select 2023-24 leading scorer and top 2024 NHL Draft prospect Marek Vanacker from the Brantford 99ers program.

The Delhi product exploded in his second OHL season, first for the team in Brantford, posting 36 goals & 46 assists for 82 points while skating in all 68 games for the Bulldogs, adding another 3 goals & 4 assists for 7 points in 6 playoff games. Through tenacious backchecking, blinding speed and slick skills, Vanacker earned ice-time in every facet of the game for the Bulldogs, including becoming one of the most feared forwards in the league in shorthanded situations. Vanacker's ascendance was complimented by another former 1st round pick, one who single handedly re-wrote the Bulldogs freshman record books.

Last year's 1st round selection came at 8th overall and produced the best rookie in the Ontario Hockey League in the 2023-24 season and best in Bulldogs franchise history in Jake O'Brien. Drafted from the powerhouse Toronto Jr. Canadiens organization, O'Brien was coming off the heels of being named OHL Cup MVP in 2023 with 7 goals & 10 assists for 17 points just 7 games.

O'Brien put on a show as a rookie, immediately looking like a seasoned veteran, able to manipulate time and space with the puck on his stick. Scoring 13 goals & 51 assists for 64 points in 61 games, O'Brien led all rookies in assists, power-play goals, power-play assists, points-per-game and overall points and led the Bulldogs in assists. O'Brien's 51 assists & 64 points each shattered the Bulldogs previous records for rookie scoring.

The last time the Bulldogs held the 14th overall selection was in 2021, using it to select Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves power forward Alex Pharand. Though Pharand only spent 23 games with the Bulldogs, being a part of the trade that brought Mason McTavish to the Bulldogs in advance of the 2022 OHL Trade Deadline, he has crafted a strong OHL career. Skating in 191 games between the Bulldogs & Sudbury Wolves, Pharand earned selection to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft going in the 4th round, 99th overall.

Closing out the first night of the draft from a Bulldogs perspective will be the 53rd overall selection in the 3rd round and like the 14th & 23rd it will be the Bulldogs second time holding that particular selection. In the 2021, the Bulldogs selected defenseman Noah Roberts at the 53rd overall pick from York Simcoe Express program. Having skated in 105 career OHL games, Roberts was a part of the 2022 OHL Championship team and continues to carve out his spot in the Bulldogs line up.

With a trio of selections on the opening night of the OHL Draft, General Manager Matt Turek along with Director of Player Personell Dave Gray, Head Scout Beau Moyer & their staff will look for the first-round hat-trick following up Marek Vanacker in 2022 & Jake O'Brien in 2023 while continuing to add to the deep pipeline the Bulldogs have built.

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