Stamkos No. 1 at OHL draft
Steven Stamkos doesn't seem concerned about going to a rebuilding junior hockey team from a minor midget powerhouse.
The 16-year-old was taken first overall by the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League draft on Saturday.
"We have a good young team and will be a team to watch," Stamkos, a right-shooting centre, said of the Sting. "I've just got to train hard and put on some weight.
"The OHL definitely has bigger and stronger guys. I'm going to have to work hard to get ready."
Sarnia finished last in the 20-team OHL this season with a record of 17-46-5.
Stamkos had 105 goals and 92 assists this year for the Markham Waxers, who won the OHL Cup Minor Midget Showcase Tournament in March.
"That's my strength, offensive skills and skating," Stamkos told the OHL's website on Saturday. "With the new rules, that will definitely help my game. When they changed the rules, it really opened up the game to let the skilled players do what they do best."
Sting coach Dave McQueen, who was hired on Thursday, told the Toronto Sun that Stamkos would be expected to contribute starting next season.
"People are going to be expecting a lot of the No. 1 pick," Stamkos told the newspaper. "It has been a lot of hard work and dedication for me to get to this point and I think I'm ready for [the transition to junior]."
The Oshawa Generals made league history when they selected defenceman Michael Del Zotto of the Waxers with the No. 2 overall pick.
It marked the first time that the first two picks in the OHL draft have come from the same team.
Like Stamkos, the six-foot-one, 195-pound Del Zotto said he needed to bulk up to play in the OHL.
"I definitely need to train a lot, try to pick up a bit more foot speed," Del Zotto said. "I'm sure I'll do fine, but we'll have to wait and see."
The Mississauga IceDogs had the third overall pick and opted for defenceman Alex Pietrangelo from the Jr. Canadiens.
Toronto Red Wings blue-liner Mitch Gaulton went fourth overall to the Erie Otters, MacQueen's former club.
The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds rounded out the top five, plucking James Livingston from the York Simcoe Express.
Jared Staal, brother of Carolina Hurricanes centre Eric Staal, went 11th overall to the Sudbury Wolves.
Staal is the youngest of four brothers that were all first round picks in the OHL draft.
Defenceman Marc Staal, a New York Rangers prospect, was selected second overall by Sudbury in 2003. Two years ago, his brother Jordan was taken third overall.
Eric Staal was the 13th overall pick of the Peterborough Petes in 2000. Marc was selected second overall by the Wolves in 2003 and Jordan was taken third overall by Peterborough in 2004.
with files from Canadian Press