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 Saginaw Spirit

Spirit Complete Day 1 of 2024 OHL Priority Selection

April 12, 2024 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
Saginaw Spirit News Release

Saginaw, Mich. - The next wave of Spirit players have taken their first steps toward the OHL as the Sagianw Spirit completed rounds 1-3 of the 2024 OHL Priority Selection on Friday night. With their first-round selection, the Spirit selected Dimian Zhilkin of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens at 19th overall. In round three, Saginaw took goaltender Brady Knowling of the North York Rangers.

Round 1, 19th Overall - Dimian Zhilkin

A right-shot winger with a dynamic playmaking touch, Dimian Zhilkin is Saginaw's first-round pick in the 2024 OHL Priority Selection. Zhilkin spent the past season with the Toronto Jr. Canadians of the GTHL. In 60 games, Zhilkin notched 73 points (26G, 47A) from the right side of the ice. The Oakville, Ontario native stands 5'9" and weighs in at 150lbs.

"You saw the excitement in the room when we were able to draft Dima," said Spirit GM Dave Drinkill. "He's a player that we really liked and really targeted throughout the year. Every time you watch him play, he's the type of player that will bring you to the edge of your seat; a dynamic, offensively gifted young player."

Zhilkin is the younger brother of Winnipeg Jets 3rd rounder Danny Zhilkin. Brother Danny spent 186 games in the Ontario Hockey League between the Guelph Storm and Kitchener Rangers.

"I'm really speechless," said Zhilkin. "I'm super honored to be drafted by such a high-class organization. I'm excited to get down there and meet all of the players and staff. I'm really looking forward to what's next and can't wait to get started!"

Dimian Zhilkin is just the third player to be picked 19th overall by the Spirit. He joins Zayne Parekh (2022) and Connor Punnett (2019) in that slot.

Brady Knowling - 60th Overall

The Spirit selected 6'4 goaltender Brady Knowling with their 3rd Round pick in 2024. The Toronto, Ontario native played 76 games with the GTHL's North York Rangers, claiming 31 victories.

"We think he's the best goaltender in this draft, if not one of the best players," said Drinkill. "As the year went on, he got better and better, especially in big games. When you look at him, there's not a lot of net to shoot at.

Knowling and the Rangers picked up three victories at the 2024 OHL Cup, where he posted a 3.22 GAA and .841 SV%.

"His ability to take control of a game helps him stand out above the other goaltenders in this draft," said Goaltending Coach Rick Ice. "His control in net and technical ability give him the tools to become an elite goaltender in our league."

The Spirit will continue the 2024 OHL Priority Selection tomorrow beginning with Round 4 at 9am. Saginaw has 12 total picks in this year's draft. To follow rounds 4-15 in real time, visit the 2024 Priority Selection HQ.

Player Eligibility

North American players born in 2008 and non-overage players that were not registered with an Ontario based U16 AAA team from protected OHL territories are eligible for selection in the 15 rounds of the 2024 OHL Priority Selection.

Selected Players in the OHL

OHL Member Teams are permitted to register a maximum of four 16-year-old players selected in the OHL Priority Selection. Those 16-year-old players that are allowed to be signed are the first two 16-year-old players selected and a maximum of two additional 16-year-old wild carded players in any round of the OHL Priority Selection.

All other 16-year-old players selected are eligible to be called up as an "affiliated player" or "floating affiliate player" for a maximum of 10 games or for any OHL regular season or playoff games when such player's team has been eliminated from competition for that season.

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