Guelph a hot bed for cultivating NHL calibre players

“From the Guelph Storm… we are proud to select…”  It’s a phrase heard a remarkable nine times during the past two NHL Entry Drafts and it’s this draft success, that’s making the city of Guelph a hot bed for cultivating NHL calibre players.

With hockey clubs around the globe developing players for the annual draft, the Storm’s success since 2012 is staggering.  Only one other team in the world has enjoyed as much draft day success as Guelph and among the 60 team CHL just four clubs (Guelph, London, Portland and Kelowna) have heard their name called more than five times.

Now as the 2013-14 season approaches, a total of 14 junior aged players that finished last season with the Storm are looking forward to attending NHL camps during the coming weeks.  This long list includes the eight recent NHL draftees that are expected in the Storm lineup this season, plus three likely graduates (Tanner Richard, Andrey Pedan and Garret Sparks) and a trio of forwards in Ryan Horvat, Zack Mitchell and Hunter Garlent that will skate as free agent invitees.

“With 11 of our returning players attending NHL training camps, it certainly is a strong NHL endorsement of those players and our 2013/14 team.  It is a real credit to the players themselves, our coaching and scouting staffs.  With draft eligible players like Robby Fabbri, Matt Mancina and Phil Baltisberger leading the way, we hope to have another strong showing at the 2014 NHL Draft,” Storm General Manager Mike Kelly said.

Matt Finn (TOR), Brock McGinn (CAR), Scott Kosmachuk (WPG) and Tanner Richard (TB) were all selected at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and will report to their respective teams training camps this fall. Brock McGinn signed an entry level contract with the Hurricanes in April and finished off his season in the AHL playing four games with the Hurricane’s farm team, the Charlotte Checkers. All are expected to be back in the Storm line-up this year with the exception of Tanner Richard who will join the Tampa Lightning organization.

This year Jason Dickinson (DAL), Tyler Bertuzzi (DET), Ben Harpur (OTT), Justin Auger (LA) and Zac Leslie (LA) were drafted to NHL teams. All five have attended prospects camps throughout July and will also be expected to join their NHL teams for training camp in the fall. All five players will be back in the Storm line-up this year.

Not drafted, but attending training camps as free agent invitees are Ryan Horvat (ANA), Hunter Garlent (CAR) and Zack Mitchell (CAR). Horvat and Mitchell will be overage players this year for the Storm while Garlent will return for his third season in a Storm jersey.

Whether it’s Dustin Brown raising the Stanley Cup as captain of the Los Angeles Kings, or an Olympic Gold Medal being placed around Drew Doughty’s neck, fans of junior hockey take great pride in watching former players reach the pinnacle of hockey success.  “I saw them play in Guelph” is a phrase that’s muttered by hockey fans regularly around the Royal City and with the Storm’s success at the NHL Entry Draft, there’s little doubt that it’s a phrase that will be repeated for many years to come. 

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