We’re seeing a shift in thinking at the junior level in recent years..and there no better example than the OHL Draft, where 14 of the 21 players selected in the first round of the 2017 OHL Priority Draft are under 6-0.
A dozen years ago there were seven players under 6-0 selected in the first round…so it’s gone from 1/3 of the players to 2/3….a very notable shift. And it’s not like they’re all 5-11.5 either…as six of them are under 5-10, and it’s not like it’s only happened this year..there has been a notable trend towards shorter players being selected higher in the draft in the past few years.
It’s slowly creeping into the NHL game too…many of the more skilled prospects being considered for the top 60 are players under the NHL “standard” of 6-1.5, especially on defence where it’s not inconceivable that seven who are 5-11 or shorter will be taken in the first three rounds. Teams are looking for more puck movers on the blueline now…15 years ago it was inconceivable to have a blueliner under 6-0 on your bottom NHL pairing…now it’s becoming more and more common.
The NHL still wasn’t ready to pick a player under 5-9 in the first round two years ago when Alex DeBrincat was passed over despite a 50-goal season…this time around, though, it is looking more likely that Spokane winger Kailer Yamamoto will make history in becoming the first player under 5-9 ever selected in the first round of the NHL draft. Let’s hope he goes on to a highly successful NHL career and this aversion to picking a highly skilled player strictly because of his height becomes a thing of the past.