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Mississauga Steelheads add NHL draft prospect Jared Walsh

September 27, 2013

Jared Walsh has decommitted from Michigan to play for the Steelheads (OJHL Images)Sounds about right: the only two prospects on NHL Central Scouting’s recently released preliminary list who played in the Ontario Junior Hockey League ranks last season will now both lace ’em up in major junior as they showcase their wares for the draft. On Thursday, Jared Walsh, a 5-foot-9¾, 174-poundpuck-moving defenceman who had been committed to the University of Michigan, got his blessing from the Junior A St. Michael’s Buzzers and will join the Mississauga Steelheads, where he was a second-round choice in 2012.

You can probably figure out the reasoning for Walsh eschewing the chance to play at Michigan. It’s perceived as better to spend his draft year in the Ontario Hockey League, which counting fellow Buzzer (turned Erie Otters centre) Jake Evans, had 45 skaters and goalies on the Central Scouting list. (Not all are necessarily a lock to be selected in June, but there are others not on the list who probably will be, too, because crapshoot.) Joining Mississauga, which bid adieu to four defencemen at the end of last season, also means joining a team with a lot of available minutes for a young defenceman.

It is unfortunate for Michigan, where Walsh originally committed last winter. The subtext should be pretty obvious, though. For starters, it touches on the ‘aging’ of college hockey; Walsh was 2015-16 recruit for Michigan. That’s fine and dandy if there’s a good place to avoid withering on the vine and keep developing for the next two seasons. Evidently, playing in the OJHL didn’t suffice, much like how playing at a prep school is now seen as preferable to remaining in AAA midget as a 16- or 17-year-old.

That’s not meant to disparage the OJHL, which has been a good development ground for OHL and NCAA Division I players. The now 22-team league has had only 13 players selected directly from it in the past five NHL drafts, though, compared to 23 from the 16-team British Columbia Hockey League.

So what else is Walsh to do to up his chances of getting drafted higher next June in Philadephia? His signing, meantime, extends the Steelheads’ string of reeling in promising young players; it took some work to get newcomers Everett Clark, Jesse Barwell and Austin Gerhart into the fold this fall alongside 15-year-old phenom Sean Day. Coach-GM James Boyd’s team is set to have growing pains, but having Walsh gives Missy a group of 10 players aged 17 or younger. That could bode well for the team’s long-term prognosis in the Toronto area.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

Article source: http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/jrhockey-buzzing-the-net/mississauga-steelheads-add-nhl-draft-prospect-jared-walsh-191412572.html

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