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Wilson Farrow: A draft pick that Sudbury can call its own

It's extremely likely that the first Sudbury player to be selected in the 2020 OHL Entry Draft does not live in Sudbury at all.

That said, it would be excessively unfair not to consider Wilson Farrow as one of our own.

Having spent the bulk of his youth in Valley East, the smooth-skating defenceman had suited up with Nickel City Sons "AAA" teams from minor peewee through until the end of his minor bantam year.

From there, it was on to the GTHL (Greater Toronto Hockey League).

To be completely fair, this move also coincided with his father's retirement from the local educational system. His mother, by virtue of her career, worked mostly out of Toronto already, with the couple very much at home in the GTA. Still, they are hardly strangers to Sudbury, even these days.

Farrow, who is, by all accounts, projected as a mid-round selection (which can loosely be interpreted as anywhere from the third to the eight round of the draft that takes place next Saturday) would play for the Toronto Jr Canadians in 2018-2019, and the Toronto Nationals this past winter.

"I think I've matured, my confidence has grown, my knowledge of the game has grown - I'm a much improved and better player than I was there," said the young man who turned 16 earlier this month, spending some "socially distant" time with his parents at the family cottage in Lavigne this week.

"When you are in the north, you can get away with some things," explained Farrow. That was evident enough during his time with the Sons, his skating ability allowing him to jump into the rush, pretty much whenever he liked, knowing that he could race back, usually with enough time to disrupt things at the other end of the ice, if the offensive foray went south.

"Here, once you learn the game, you have to implicate it pretty quickly, and I think I've done that," Farrow continued. "I've learned when the proper times to jump in the rush are, when that can create a second wave of offense for my forwards."

The foundation to his game are not terribly different than when he left Sudbury. "I'm an excellent skater, I work my edges well, with speed," he said. "I have an ability to move the puck up north quickly, and try and create for my team. I can add some offensive flair from the back-end."

Those tasked with assessing minor midget talent in Ontario would tend to concur. "Wilson is a kid that has a lot of tools to him," suggested a local scout. "He has a lot of offensive ability, he makes plays, his hockey IQ and vision are good."

"He's not the biggest kid in the world and not the most physical guy. He's more cerebral than he is physical. For the team that drafts him, and he will get drafted, he's kind of an offensive defenceman, a guy that can create and make plays and get clean entries out of his zone."

The minor midget year can be a challenging one, for the likes of Farrow and others. The reality is that pretty much every single second of hockey that you play that year is subject to scrutiny. Players try and balance between playing the team game that is required for overall success, with the desire to display enough, on an individual basis, to catch the eyes of scouts.

Farrow has tried to take it all in stride.

"Every game that you play is so intense, you want to show yourself, you want to show the best player that you are," he said. "Everybody has amped up the intensity this year, so it's fun hockey."

"I've had a few phone calls with a handful of teams," Farrow continued. "Throughout the year, our coaches will let us know if certain teams are showing interest in you. But during the year, you just focus on playing, keep developing, keep improving."

"You don't want to stress on it too much, because you don't have much control over it right now."

Local Draft Notes: A former teammate of Farrow's in his Nickel City days, Samuel Assinewai (Manitoulin Island) is also a possibility to be selected, as is Cutter Gauthier, son of Sudbury native and former OHL goaltender Sean Gauthier.

Both prospects played with Detroit Compuware this winter, with Gauthier apparently committed to joining the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (otherwise would be a sure fire first round OHL pick).

As for locals who suited up in Sudbury this winter, chatter in the OHL grapevine suggests that those with the best chances of being selected, next Saturday, are goaltender Noah Beaulne, and/or forwards Cameron Shanks, Ryan Rubic and Brayden Lafrance - though none are apparently a lock.

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