Elite Prospects

7 Bulldogs Gone (NHL) Camping

September 14, 2023 – Ontario Hockey League (OHL) – Brantford Bulldogs News Release

As the 2023-24 Ontario Hockey Season draws closer and exhibition games have begun, the Brantford Bulldogs will proudly see 7 members of the team head off to NHL Camps beginning this week. With 5 NHL draftees and a pair of players invited, the Bulldogs organization and fans will be excited to follow their progress as they look to impress at the next level.

Jorian Donovan – Ottawa Senators:

Selected by the Ottawa Senators in the 5th round, 136th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and coming off winning the 2022 OHL Championship, Jorian Donovan has only seen his stock climb. Now entering his 2nd Senators camp, Donovan comes off a season posting 12 goals & 33 assists for 45 points in 54 games with the Bulldogs, adding another 4 points in 6 playoff games. After his OHL season ended, Donovan also suited up in a pair of games at the AHL level for the Belleville Senators. With his dynamic offensive game and experience at the junior & professional levels, Donovan is looking to force the Senators into a hard decision at camp before returning to the Bulldogs.

Nick Lardis – Chicago Blackhawks:

The first of four Bulldogs off the board at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Nick Lardis was selected in the 3rd round, 67th overall, after a brilliant finish to his season with the Dogs. Following his mid-season acquisition, Lardis broke out, recording 25 goals (for 37 total on the season) & 21 assists for 46 points in 33 games. Earning an invitation to both the CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game & the U18 World Championship, where he won bronze with Team Canada, Lardis will put his speed, skill, and hockey IQ on display to further impress the Hawks and their fans.

Florian Xhekaj – Montreal Canadiens

Continuing one of the greatest family stories in hockey, Florian Xhekaj heard his name called by the Montreal Canadiens with the 101st pick in the 4th round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. The undrafted free agent signing by the Bulldogs will join his older brother and Bulldogs 2022 OHL Champion, Arber Xhekaj, in attending Habs camp. Recording 13 goals & 12 assists for 25 points while playing in all 68 games for the Bulldogs in the 2022-23 season, the younger Xhekaj established himself the same way his older brother did, through hard work and dedication. Florian will seek to make it two Xhekaj fan favourites in Montreal camp before returning to Brantford to help lead the Bulldogs in the 2023-24 season.

Patrick Thomas – Washington Capitals

Originally a 3rd round selection, 57th overall, of the Bulldogs in 2020 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Patrick Thomas has developed into one of the most creative players in the Ontario Hockey League. Between his incredible insticts and on-ice smarts, the Washington Capitals were joyed to select him in the 4th round, 104th overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. After playing on a line with fellow NHL prospects Ryan Winterton & Mason McTavish on route to lifting the 2022 OHL Championship, Thomas combined first with Logan Morrison & Avery Hayes in the 2022-23 season before finishing it alongside Nick Lardis & Sahil Panwar totaling 17 goals & 39 assists for 56 points in 66 games, while driving the Bulldogs offense in the post season with 6 assists in 6 games. As he heads to Caps training camp, will we see a Bulldog feeding a puck to the legendary Alex Ovechkin? We know Thomas could do it.

Cole Brown – New Jersey Devils

The towering Bulldogs sniper was too good for the Devils to let escape the draft, selecting Brown in the 6th round, 164th overall. Scoring 17 goals & 25 assists for 42 points in 60 games, and one of the highlights of the Bulldogs season, an end-to-end overtime winner against Eastern powerhouse Ottawa, Brown took the next steps in his development. A champion and an NHL draft pick, Brown continues to look to add to his accomplishments both with the Bulldogs and with the Devils as he will look to make a case for his future with an organization with a bright future before helping lead the Brantford offense in 2023-24.

Lawson Sherk – Buffalo Sabres

Originally a 2nd round selection, 40th overall, of the Bulldogs in 2019, Lawson Sherk has been the epitome of what it means to be a Bulldogs. Selflessly putting team first, Sherk has excelled in every role he has been asked to play. Be it a shutdown centre on route to the 2022 OHL Championship or net front presence on the top powerplay in 2022-23, Sherk has proved he can do it all. Set to bring his leadership and full 200-foot game to Sabres camp, Sherk will look to put his name front and center for Buffalo and Bulldogs fans will be excited to celebrate his 200th OHL game (Sherk currently sits at 190) early on in the 2023-24 season.

Noah Van Vliet – Edmonton Oilers

After arriving part way through the 2021-22 OHL season, Noah Van Vliet instantly made himself into a big part of the Bulldogs blueline. With his incredible size and strength combination matched by his intelligence, Van Vliet can be hulking shutdown presence while transitioning the puck up ice with ease. Having played his part in the 2022 OHL Championship and helping anchor a 2022-23 Bulldogs blueline that surprised many onlookers, Van Vliet will look to continue opening eyes at the next level with the Oilers as an invite.

The Brantford Bulldogs are extremely proud of all 7 of our NHL invitees and both wish them the best of luck as they look to carve their paths forward while excitedly awaiting their return for a big 2023-24 OHL season.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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