All Eyes On Grayson Ladd
That might seem like high praise for a town that has produced the likes of TJ Brodie, Seth Griffith, Dane Fox, Joseph Raaymakers, and Travis Konecny in recent years. Konecny, an OHL first overall pick, spent his early years as a Cyclone, but moved up the 401 in preparation for the draft.
Most scouts predict Ladd will go in the mid-late first, or early second round. While Chatham-Kent players such as Konecny have been picked higher, Soo Greyhounds netminder Joseph Raaymakers currently holds the distinction as the highest player ever selected while playing for the Cyclones, going 37th overall in 2014,
“Grayson Ladd owns all of the tools scouts look for in an OHL first round defensive prospect,” says Brendan Ross, Director of Scouting for TheScout.ca, who praised Ladd’s skating, intelligence, and puck skills.
“There’s a lot of intrigue surrounding Ladd because of his raw size and calm puck moving demeanour. He is a player who shows next level abilities yet has lots of room to grow as a player,” added Ross.
That talent has had all eyes on Grayson Ladd every time he stepped on the ice this season.
“Knowing people are watching you is a pretty exciting feeling but can also be nerve racking at times,” said Ladd about the attention he received from scouts this season.
“It makes you feel proud of yourself that people are watching, but it can’t get to your head because that’s when you stop working. Me personally, I know I was trying to keep my game simple and not worry about the scouts in the stands during the games. Once the game started, you forget about that kind of stuff, and stay focused on the game.”
If Ladd is going to become the top pick he’s expected to be, pressure will become a nightly occurrence, as he’ll be playing in front of thousands of fans, and NHL scouts in the OHL as early as next season.
With that in mind, Ladd, a grade 10 student at Chatham-Kent Secondary School, knows the draft, and hard work he’s put in to this point, is just the beginning.
“The draft can put a lot of pressure on you, I know personally, my family and I try and stay away from reading anything about the draft. I think it gets to your head, both positively and negatively, and can impact your game. My focus on and off the ice has always been to be the hardest working kid whether that is in practice or game, or in the gym.”
Ladd also learned this year with the Junior B Chatham Maroons, practicing with the team each week, and playing a handful of games with the Maroons.
With his Cyclones season over, Ladd continues to train, and wait, until his name is called April 8 at the OHL Draft. After that, the real work begins to make an OHL roster, and be impact player in the world’s top developmental league.
“My hopes for the draft are to go as high as I possibly can. There is no point in getting caught up in it – I have no control over it. I think the day will be full of excitement and nerves and having the feeling of the unknown and what can happen.”
With the OHL in Ladd’s future, he sees it as another opportunity to learn and improve, and as another important step toward his ultimate goal.
“My ultimate goal is to play pro hockey some day, but I have a lot of work to do, and I just take things one step at a time. Our motto around the house is no regrets. If you stop learning, you stop caring. So I want to learn as much as possible.”
If his learning curve, and on ice performance to date are any indication, scouts won’t be taking their eyes off Grayson Ladd for many years to come.