The potential first-round NHL draft pick no one is talking about

Dylan Sadowy scored two and OHL leading scorer Kevin Labanc chipped in with two assists, as the Barrie Colts doubled up the Mississauga Steelheads.

Draft eligibility is an interesting topic. Current rules dictate that any North American player who turns 18 before September 15 of the draft year, and does not turn 20 by December 31st of the same year is eligible. Any player who goes undrafted by age 20 becomes an unrestricted free agent.

In addition, any drafted player who is not signed within the two years following their draft may re-enter, assuming they still meet eligibility requirements by being under 20 years old. Typically, players who go unsigned after they get drafted show little development and perhaps even decline in production. But on rare occasions, a player who goes back into the draft for a second time has increased his value.

Some noteworthy players who have re-entered the draft are Mike Zigomanis (64th overall in 1999, 46th overall in 2001), Jarret Stoll (46th overall in 2000, 36th overall in 2002), and Matthew Lombardi (215th overall in 2000, 90th overall in 2002). Each of them significantly increased their stock by the time they went through the process for a second time.

Which brings us to the case of Dylan Sadowy of the Barrie Colts. The Sharks drafted Sadowy in the third round (81st overall) of the 2014 draft after he scored 27 goals and 36 points in 68 games with OHL Saginaw. In the two years since, Sadowy has scored 42 and 45 goals in the OHL, but he still hasn’t signed a contract with the Sharks.

The deadline for him to sign by before he can re-enter the draft is June 1 and it does seem like his value has increased. If he does go back into the draft, where could he get picked this time around?

Last week, I wrote a piece breaking down OHL shooters by their shots from various areas in the offensive zone (Low, Medium and High Danger shots). Sadowy ranked third on the list of producers likely to translate their OHL goal production to the NHL and he had the most High Danger shots in the OHL by a wide margin. His 61 HD attempts in the low slot were nine higher than the second-ranked skater Zach Senyshyn, who was a first-rounder last year.

(Graphic from

The only skaters ahead of Sadowy overall were Christian Dvorak and Alex DeBrincat.

Sadowy was moved to Barrie mid-way through the season. So he scored 20 of his 45 goals this season with a Saginaw team that ranked 15th in OHL scoring and 25 while playing second-line minutes on a better Barrie squad.

It should also be noted that 56 of Sadowy’s 87 goals scored over the past two seasons came at even strength, which ranks fourth in the OHL over time time behind only DeBrincat, Andrew Mangiapane and Dylan Strome.

It is hard to overstate how unusual it is for a goal-scoring prospect of Sadowy’s calibre to return to the draft. Here is a list of all OHL skaters who had two 40-plus goal seasons since 2000-01, along with their NHL games played and production at that level.

Brett MacLean 2007 (32nd) 6’2/201 18 2 5
Bryan Little 2006 (12th) 6’/191 613 163 385
Christian Thomas 2010 (40th) 5’9/178 27 1 3
Cody Hodgson 2008 (10th) 6’/192 328 64 142
Corey Locke 2003 (113th) 5’9/185 9 0 1
Corey Perry 2003 (28th) 6’3/210 804 330 664
Derek Roy 2001 (32nd) 5’9/184 738 189 524
Jason Jaspers 1999 (71st) 5’11/207 9 0 1
John Tavares 2009 (1st) 6’1/211 510 207 471
Kerby Rychel 2013 (19th) 6’1/213 37 2 12
Mike Zigomanis 1999 (64th), 2001 (46th) 6’/200 197 21 40
Patrick O’Sullivan 2003 (56th) 5’11/190 334 58 161
Rob Schremp 2004 (25th) 5’10/184 114 20 54
Steve Ott 2000 (25th) 6’/189 795 106 281
Steven Stamkos 2008 (1st) 6’1/194 569 312 562
Taylor Hall 2010 (1st) 6’1/201 381 132 328
Tyler Toffoli 2010 (47th) 6’1/200 230 68 141
Josh Shalla 2011 (94th) 6’2/196 0 0 0
Brett Thompson NA 5’8/154 0 0 0
Justin Donati NA 5’10/176 0 0 0
Andrew Mangiapane 2015 (166th) 5’10/176 NA NA NA
Christian Dvorak 2014 (58th) 6’/178 NA NA NA
AVERAGE 42nd overall 6’/192 285.65 83.75 188.75
Alex DeBrincat 2016 (?) 5’7/161 NA NA NA
Dylan Sadowy 2014 (81st) 6’1/200 NA NA NA

Of the 20 skaters on this list who were available for selection at or before the 2014 draft, 12 have played more than 100 NHL games and 10 have played more than 200. Their average production rate is 0.29 goals and 0.66 points per game in the NHL, which would translate to a 24-goal, 54-point player over an 82-game season.

This means the average production of this group translates to legitimate first-line forward, with a 60 per cent probability of playing more than 100 NHL games and a 50 per cent probability of playing more than 200 games.

If we think in terms of draft pick valuation and the expected value for forwards picked in various draft slots, comparable players to Sadowy would have an expected production rate of 0.36 points per game. That’s the expected value range of a top-10 pick in any given NHL draft year.

If Sadowy does re-enter the 2016 NHL Draft and become available to all 30 teams again, it seems logical to suggest he has potential to go in the first round.

He has flown under the radar through much of his OHL career despite having these eye-popping offensive totals. Don’t be surprised if he attracts far more attention in the draft if he goes through it again.

The Sharks have until June 1 to sign him. That’s news worth monitoring.

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