Storm announce Ryan Merkley as First Overall Pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection

OHL Priority Selection takes place Saturday April 9, 2016, at 9:00 am at

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Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League in association with the Guelph Storm Hockey Club today announced that 15-year-old defenceman Ryan Merkley of the Greater Toronto Hockey League’s Toronto Jr. Canadiens will be the first overall pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.

 The announcement was made at a news conference held this morning in Guelph where Merkley was introduced to local media.

“The opportunity to have the first selection in the OHL Priority Selection is both an honour and a huge responsibility,” Storm GM Mike Kelly said. “Our scouting staff has probably watched more than a 1,000 games throughout Ontario and the United States this year. The number of elite players available for this year’s Priority Selection was astonishing. It is clear the game of hockey is indeed in very good hands, with so many budding stars on the horizon.  While the process of determining our selection was thorough and labour intensive, there was one player who stood out amongst all the others.  We are very proud and excited to select Ryan Merkley with the first overall pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.  Ryan is a very elite defenseman, who, above all, cares about winning.  His high end skill, vision, creativity and hockey IQ, separated him from 3 or 4 other very special players.  We are confident that Ryan will be a cornerstone to a future championship calibre team.  We look forward to working with Ryan and his family, as he achieves his hockey and academic goals”.

 Merkley was named GTHL Player of the Year after leading the Jr. Canadiens in scoring with 44 points including seven goals and 37 assists in 33 regular season games.  As team captain, the 5’10, 160 lb, Mississauga, ON, native produced more than a point-per-game and represented Canada at the Youth Olympic Games earning a silver medal.  Born August 14, 2000, Merkley will be eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft.

 “I am extremely excited and honoured to be chosen first overall in this year’s OHL Priority Selection,” Merkley said.  “It’s an unbelievable feeling.  I want to thank the Guelph Storm ownership, management team and scouting staff for showing their confidence in me.  I cannot wait to meet my new teammates and begin working towards building a championship team here in Guelph.”

Ryan Merkley of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Ryan Merkley of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

 Merkley is the 2016 recipient of the Jack Ferguson Award presented annually to the player selected first overall in the OHL Priority Selection. The “Fergie” recognizes the dedication and contributions made by Jack Ferguson during his 25 year association with the OHL, first as a scout with the Ottawa 67’s and followed by his appointment as head of the OHL’s Central Scouting Bureau in 1981 as its Director of Central Scouting.  Merkley is the second member of the Storm to receive the award following Jeff O’Neill in 1992.  O’Neill’s number 92 was honoured by the Storm in November as part of the club’s 25th anniversary celebrations.  The past five OHL recipients include David Levin, Jakob Chychrun, Travis Konecny, and current NHL stars Connor McDavid, and Aaron Ekblad.

“Ryan is a dominant player that has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants to,” said OHL Central Scouting Director Darrell Woodley. “His skill level and creativity with the puck are second to none. He has the ability to thread a pass that not many others could. Ryan is a great skater and has made many forwards miss on the forecheck leaving them looking silly. He is dangerous on the rush as his one-on-one skills are top notch. He is always on the other team’s radar and he plays on the edge.”

Merkley will be a feature guest on the live 2016 OHL Priority Selection Draft Show beginning at 9:00 am on Saturday April 9, 2016.  The draft show along with live results feed will be available at  For the ninth straight year, media and fans can watch the first three rounds live online with host Terry Doyle who will be joined on set by Darrell Woodley and Tim Cherry of OHL Central Scouting to provide analysis, interviews, and video footage of the next wave of OHL stars.

 Former winners of the Jack Ferguson Award Include:

1981 Dan Quinn, Belleville Bulls

1982 Kirk Muller, Guelph Platers

1983 Trevor Stienburg, Guelph Platers

1984 Dave Moylan, Sudbury Wolves

1985 Bryan Fogarty, Kingston Canadians

1986 Troy Mallette, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

1987 John Uniac, Sudbury Wolves

1988 Drake Berehowsky, Kingston Raiders

1989 Eric Lindros, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

1990 Pat Peake, Detroit Ambassadors

1991 Todd Harvey, Detroit Ambassadors

1992 Jeff O’Neill, Guelph Storm

1993 Alyn McCauley, Ottawa 67’s

1994 Jeff Brown, Sarnia Sting

1995 Daniel Tkaczuk, Barrie Colts

1996 Rico Fata, London Knights
1997 Charlie Stephens, Toronto St. Michael’s Majors

1998 Jay Harrison, Brampton Battalion

1999 Jason Spezza, Mississauga IceDogs

2000 Patrick Jarrett, Mississauga IceDogs

2001 Patrick O’Sullivan,Mississauga IceDogs

2002 Robbie Schremp, Mississauga IceDogs

2003 Patrick McNeill, Saginaw Spirit

2004 John Hughes, Belleville Bulls

2005 John Tavares, Oshawa Generals

2006 Steven Stamkos, Sarnia Sting

2007 Ryan O’Reilly, Erie Otters

2008 John McFarland, Sudbury Wolves

2009  Daniel Catenacci, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

2010  Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia Sting

2011  Aaron Ekblad, Barrie Colts

2012  Connor McDavid, Erie Otters

2013  Travis Konecny, Ottawa 67’s

2014  Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia Sting

2015 David Levin, Sudbury Wolves

2016 Ryan Merkley, Guelph Storm

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