Searching for a Novak

What to look for in Friday's CanPL U-Sports draft

As I wrote about yesterday, the CanPL U-Sports draft goes this week. If it wasn’t made clear, the U-Sports draft is at a much different place than the MLS SuperDraft is and thus can be viewed as an important building block for the clubs.

Not that every pick is going to be ready to jump in and contribute – or even is interested in doing so – but if you nail a pick in this draft you have the opportunity  to bring in a player that will typically perform a bigger role for the club than the equivalent draft pick in MLS would.

Players like Dylan Carreiro and Peter Schaale were not just serviceable pieces for Valour and Halifax respectfully, but were key players for both teams. Schaale is arguably the face of Halifax, actually.

So, it’s a big deal.

However, it should be pointed out that the nature of the CanPL is very likely going to be short runs in the league, due to the low salaries. That’s especially the case if you’re a university grad that might be turning down a six figure salary in your field to make $15,000 playing left-back for York United.

Indeed, Carreiro has left Winnipeg this fall because he has a non-playing opportunity in the Toronto area that he could not pass up. He may yet find a way to also play for York or Hamilton in 2021, but, for now we may be seeing an early example of the fleeting nature of this league.

If you read the analytical breakdown I did of the draft yesterday, you’ll note that the average age of the drafted players was significantly older than what you find in the SuperDraft. That likely represents the short career possibilities in CanPL. True prospects that may get sold on to a higher level team are probably coming straight into the league as teenagers. The players you get from the draft will be more likely to be core “lifer” players. I’ve written and talked about how important it is for the league to have those guys around (without them you don’t have a league for the kids to develop in to get sold) for the better part of a decade, but I’ll repeat it here again.

I used to call these guys “Chad Barretts,” in honour of the former TFC striker who played WAY more games in MLS than you think, but I think I’m going to start going with “Anthony Novaks” now since, you know, he’s probably going to be one.

To be clear, this isn’t a diss on these guys. I loved Barrett and I respect the hell out of Novak’s journey to becoming a pro.

Anyway, that’s the environment that teams will be drafting in.

As with the SuperDraft, I’m not going to pretend that I have a massive knowledge of the U-Sports talent pool. Even in a year where games took place (which they did not in 2020 due to the ‘Rona) I can probably only get out to 1-2 games a year and maybe watch the championship tournament on a stream. So, I’m relying on the opinion of others here to give you a few names that you might see go on Friday.

You can see the whole list of eligible players here, but here are three names that came up a couple times in conversations with those that watch this level closely.

Jan Pirretas Glasmacher – Thompson Rivers – Spain – Defender

It’s been suggested to me that the Barcelona native might be the most pro ready player in the draft. That stands to reason, as he has spent two years (2014-16) already in a professional environment with the Blackburn Rovers U-18 squad in England (which made him ineligible for NCAA play). Born to a German mother, he also trained with the German u15 National Team and spent time with U.D. Cornelia u16s. Of note, players drafted in the U-Sports draft are considered domestics in CanPL in their first season.

Dario Conte – Carleton – Canadian – Midfielder

I’m not one for mock drafts as it’s nearly impossible to place players on the teams that might want them and if you’re off on one…you’re off on them all. But, I’ll gently suggest that Conte is probably going to end up with Atletico Ottawa.

Not only is it likely that teams select players that are somewhat local to them in this uncertain year, but this is also a pro-ready player that even has a cup of tea in the pro game already.

With the Ottawa Fury.

Kareen Sow – U de Montreal – Canadian – Defender

Francophone players remain an under tapped market in CanPL and the consensus best pro possible player from Quebec in the draft is thought to be Sow.

He spent time in the Impact academy, but never really got a look there. He’s thought to have the physical attributes needed to be a solid CanPL defender.