In a highly unique year, the Sudbury Wolves did something that they had never done before.
Selecting first overall for the sixth time in the history of the OHL Entry Draft, the Wolves looked south of the border for the very first time in 2021, tabbing Hamburg (NY) native Quentin Musty as the top pick.
Previous Jack Ferguson Award winners (given to the first player selected) drafted by Sudbury have included Dave Moylan (1984), John Uniac (1987), John McFarland (2008), David Levin (2015) and Quinton Byfield (2018).
The added bonus this year is that the Wolves did not need to finish last overall in order to pick first. With the 2020-2021 OHL season falling victim to the global pandemic, Sudbury was simply lucky enough to win the random draw a few weeks back that would decide the order of festivities on Friday/Saturday.
Thrilled with his good fortune, Wolves' general manager Rob Papineau was perhaps even more ecstatic with the chance to add Musty to the mix, with September shaping up to be quite an eye-opening experience for the team's fans, given two full years of draft picks that have yet to hit the ice in Sudbury.
"He's just a tremendous young man," stated Papineau. "He competes, he does everything on the ice well and he wants to win. The one thing that really stuck out with me is that every time the game got bigger, he got better."
"He skates well, he's a physical player - he's not just a big skilled player, he's a big competitive power forward with skill. I expect that he's going to step into our lineup and compete with our top end guys right off the bat."
It's not as though the 6'2" 190 pound winger who toiled with the North Jersey Avalanche this past winter will be coming in unaware. "Growing up near Niagara, it's always been really close with the Ice Dogs, so I've always known about the OHL from a young age," he said.
"I would say that in the last year, it's become a more viable option."
While it's clear that Musty would have opportunities to remain in the United States, Papineau was confident that he could attract the talented American to northern Ontario.
"We're really proud of our program," said Papineau. "We've had a lot of success in the past couple of years, developing players, getting them to the NHL. Quentin wants to play against the best players that are his age and a little bit older right now, and that's in the Ontario Hockey League."
As for what exactly Musty will bring to the table, following is a self-assessment from the player himself.
"I would say that I model my game as an Auston Matthews type player, a big power forward that has scoring ability and playmaking ability," he said. To that end, Musty believes that he understands what it takes to succeed at the next level, especially offensively speaking.
"In the higher leagues, you just have to find the soft areas," he said. "Not a lot of goals are being scored from the slot, right in front of the net. You have to find the soft areas off the crease and that will contribute to scoring."
In the end, Papineau and the Wolves are chomping at the bit to see exactly what kind of talent they will have on hand come the 2021-2022 campaign.
"We've got a really good leadership group that is going to be able to work with him (Musty) and introduce him to the league," said the former OHLer turned GM.
"We've had a couple of great drafts. We just can't wait to see everybody down at the rink."