Hitting The Links–Hunter Returns, Knights Sign Trio, Houser In A New Role?

John Matisz, METRO NEWS

In what will be a regular feature as activity surrounding the club picks up, Derek Harmsworth looks around the internet to deliver you the latest London Knights news, all in one easy, convenient location.

  • With Dale Hunter announcing his return to the Knights bench yesterday, there are no shortage of stories surrounding the news today.  Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press takes a look at the move, and how bringing Hunter behind the bench makes an already potent Knights team that much better.

There’s a feeling Dale, back in familiar surroundings in London, re-energized after his NHL stint and motivated after the sting of watching this group lose the Memorial Cup final in overtime, will do everything in his power to get them back.

He was coach when the Knights won their only Cup in 2005. And this will be, for the most part, the team that most resembles the ’05 squad: lots of returning veterans, a belief in the system and a burning sense of purpose to finish what they started.

To check out the rest of the article, click here.

  • In this second offering from Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press, the writer takes a look at how the partnership between Mark and Dale Hunter makes them a far more dangerous team.  The article includes this quote from Mark:

“It comes down to one thing – do other teams fear us more when we’re together or when we’re apart,” Mark Hunter said. “We’re a weaker team with me coaching. I’ve always respected what Dale’s been able to do as a coach. He has the highest winning percentage in OHL history (.691) so that has to count for something.

  • In some non-Hunter news, Ryan Pyette also featured goaltender Michael Houser in one of his numerous articles on a busy day in Knights-Land.  Pyette looked at all possibilities for Houser for next season, being drafted, turning pro, or returning to London all among them.

“I understand if I’m back, it’s going to be a different situation because they have some options in net,” said Houser, a potential overager. “My goal is to start my pro career, but if I do end up coming back, I told them I’ll be ready to play as much as they need.”

  • Also during yesterday’s press conference, the London Knights announced the signing of three draft picks from last spring’s OHL priority selection draft.  First round pick Liam Herbst (G), second round pick Owen MacDonald (C) and fourth round pick Santino Centorame (D) all committed to the club and are expected to attend training camp in August.  Alex Muscat of JuniorHockey.com spoke at length on all three players, starting with Herbst.
Herbst, a native of Etobicoke, was the first netminder taken off the board in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection as he was taken with the 22nd pick in the first round. Listed at 6’3″, 185 lbs, Herbst covers a lot of net, which doesn’t give the shooters room to shoot and is tough to beat. Herbst backstopped the Mississauga Rebels past the Toronto Marlboros to win the OHL Cup and was named the game’s MVP in the process. Herbst is projected to be the heir apparent to Michael Houser as the Knights’ number one goalie.
MacDonald, a native of Guelph, was the Knights’ second of their two second round picks. The Knights were granted another second round pick as compensation by the OHL when their second round pick Ian Jenkins, a goalie from Ypsilanti, Michigan, tragically lost his life in a car accident. In 26 games with the Guelph Jr. Storm, MacDonald scored 19 goals and added 18 assists with 81 penalty minutes. Listed at 5’8″, 150 lbs, he’s been described as a smart two-way player and a hard worker in all three zones.
Centorame, a native of Mississauga who holds dual-citizenship, chose to sign with the Knights instead of playing for the US National Team Development Program. He’ll be reunited with Herbst, who were teammates for the Mississauga Rebels last season. In 67 games for the OHL Cup Champion Rebels, Centorame scored five goals and added 30 assists with 42 penalty minutes in 2011-12. At 6’0″, 185 lbs, he’s been described as a player who does the little things that helps his team and that his game is appreciated the more you see him. 
  • Metro Reporter John Matisz also wonders in an article whether or not the Knights will soon come to terms with another drafted player, Alex Broadhurst.
The Knights did not announce they have reached a contract agreement with Alex Broadhurst, but Dale Hunter said the 19-year-old Chicago Blackhawks draft pick — selected by London 29th overall in the 2012 OHL draft — will be a part of the 2012-13 Knights.
To check out the rest of the article, click here.
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Dale Hunter To Coach Knights Again

Terry Wilson, OHL IMAGES

The London Knights Hockey Club has called a 5PM press conference, where it is expected they will announce that Dale Hunter is returning to the club in the head coaching position.

The press conference will take place on the roof top patio at Jack Astors on Richmond Row.

Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press was among the first to report the news.  In his article, he states the following:

The OHL team’s president and co-owner, a three-time OHL coach of the year, will take over for his younger brother Mark, who led the Knights to within one goal of the Memorial Cup last month in Shawinigan, Que.

Dale Hunter spent 11 years behind the Knights bench, but left last November to try to help his old NHL team, the Washington Capitals, win the Stanley Cup. The Caps knocked out the defending champion Boston Bruins in the first round, but fell in seven games to the New York Rangers.

According to the article, Hunter felt he was needed most at the “family business” and has cited that as among the reasons he left the National Hockey League to return to the Knights organization.

Pyette also mentions that Mark Hunter will step aside from coaching, but will remain in his GM role with the club.  He also goes on to state that the other coaches on staff have been informed of the plans, but as of yet the Knights have not finalized what their coaching staff will look like for next season.

To check out the full article, click here.  To follow Ryan on Twitter, click here

Check out Knights Like This on our official Facebook page by clicking here!

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Oscar Dansk: Set To Be Knighted?

Derek Leung, GETTY IMAGES

When London Knights GM Mark Hunter pulled off a trade last week, sending a few draft picks scattered over a few years to the Peterborough Petes for the 9th overall selection in the upcoming CHL import draft, it set off a firestorm of sorts.

Almost immediately, the hype machine began to churn.  Exactly what were the Knights up to this time?  As a team known for their aggressiveness, the Hunters have made several moves since taking over the club that have been high-risk, high-reward.

They’ve been aggressive in the trade market.  They’ve been aggressive in drafting.  And they’ve been aggressive in the persuading of several young players, convincing them to don the green and gold Knights sweater.

It is a system that has seen them seamlessly transition from Corey Perry, Dave Bolland and company to Patrick Kane, Gagner and company.  And from there to Nazem Kadri, John Tavares and company.  And from that to Max Domi, Michael Houser and company.

And now, it appears, the system is once again at work. Continue reading

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Hitting The Links–Draft Focus On Maatta, News on Houser, Reid McNeill

Aaron Bell/OHL IMAGES

In what will be a regular feature as activity surrounding the club picks up, Derek Harmsworth looks around the internet to deliver you the latest London Knights news, all in one easy, convenient location.

  • Todd Cordell of The Hockey Guys has a prospect profile up on Knights defenseman Olli Maatta.  With the NHL draft under a week away, we can expect to see a lot of these coming over the next few days.

Strengths – Maatta is one of my favorite draft eligible players this year. He’s big, strong on his feet and is a good skater. He’s a very smart player, is almost always in perfect position and rarely gets caught jumping in offensively, but when he does his skating ability is often good enough to get back in the play…

To check out the rest of the article, click here.To follow Todd on Twitter, click here.

  • The official website of the Carolina Hurricanes also features a prospect spotlight on Olli Maatta, with an accompanying video package to go along with it.  The article takes a look at the season Maatta had, and looks into what type of player he could turn into once he gets to the NHL level.  The Hurricanes have the eighth pick in the upcoming NHL entry draft.

“At the end of the season, he was taking charge,” MacDonald said. “He went from a mop-up guy on the power play to a guy who was playing the whole two minutes.”

To check out the rest of the article, and watch the video package, click here.

  • Hayley over at Matchsticks and Gasoline, a Calgary Flames blog in the SB Nation network uses their 14th overall selection in the SB Nation mock draft to select Olli Maatta.  The article makes the case for Maatta being a good fit for the Flames organization, and features quotes from a few different scouting websites.

The defender wasted no time making an impression on his new team, scoring five times and adding 27 assists in 58 games in the regular season and six goals and 23 points in 23 playoff games, as the Knights went on to lose to Shawinigan in the Memorial Cup Final. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Määttä’s stats from last season, however, is that he only amassed a total of 25 penalty minutes. This is perhaps because he is such a good positional player.

To check out the rest of the article, click here.

  • In some non Olli Maatta news, Tom Williams of Vindy.com takes a closer look into Knights goalie Michael Houser.  The article discusses the championship and award winning season that just concluded, as well as his thoughts on the upcoming draft, in which Houser is eligible.

“I’ve heard a couple of things, but I’m trying not to read too much into it,” Houser said. “If I get picked, then great; if not, that’s fine too.  It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get drafted.”

To check out the rest of the article, click here.

  • Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press has posted his latest OHL briefs column, in which there is a write up about former Knights defender Reid McNeill.  McNeill, who was traded to Barrie in a deal that help the Knights grab Maatta, has recently signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  In the article, he speaks about following the Knights Memorial Cup run closely.

“Vladdy (Namestnikov) lived at my house this year,” the 6-foot-3, 191-pounder said, “so when the Knights had a barbecue after the parade, I went as a billet. I talked to Dale Hunter there and he told me sometimes you have to leave to do what’s best for your career, and I think he’s right.

To check out the rest of the article, which features confirmation on whether or not the Colts will be bringing McNeill back as an overage player, click here.

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Hitting The Links–Maatta Prepared For Draft, Import Draft Trade Speculation, More

Terry Wilson/OHL IMAGES

In what will be a regular feature as activity surrounding the club picks up, Derek Harmsworth looks around the internet to deliver you the latest London Knights news, all in one easy, convenient location.

  • Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press takes a focus on Olli Maatta, who is preparing for the NHL draft which takes place next Friday night in Pittsburgh.  Maatta, expected to be a first round selection, speaks in the article about how he stayed in London following the season, and considers it his second home.  He also talks about his burning desire to finish what he started with the Knights next season.

“I want to play in London next year,” the 17-year-old defenceman said. “We got to the last game (the Memorial Cup final) and we didn’t win. It hurt a lot. We needed to find one more goal. I want to help us get that goal and win that last game. We had a good defence and that shouldn’t change next year.   I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.  To follow Ryan on Twitter, click here.

  • John Matisz of Metro London also has an article up on Maatta, who will surely be the focus of attention over the next week as we gear up for the NHL entry draft.  In the article, Matisz talks about Maatta’s season coming full circle as he prepares to be a first round pick.

“I saw him progress from someone who really struggled to adapt (after being highly touted) to coming full circle by the end of the year. He eventually became a poised and comfortable defenceman for London,” said Mark Edwards, founder/director of scouting for a respected independent scouting organization, HockeyProspect.com.

To read the rest of the article, click here.  To follow John on Twitter, click here.

  • Neate Sager of Buzzing The Net takes a closer look at the recent trade that saw the Knights aggressively move up to grab the 9th overall selection in the upcoming CHL import draft.  Sager, with quotes from yesterday’s Ryan Pyette article, digs a little deeper into the thought that the Knights may have moved up in order to grab a highly-touted international goalie.

The Knights’ move up to the No. 9 slot for the June 27 proceedings immediately sparked speculation they might be in on Europe’s top-ranked goaltending prospect, Oscar Dansk, who said at the NHL combine he was interested in playing major junior. With the trade, the Knight leapfrogged the rival Windsor Spitfires, who hold the No. 15 slot. That does not mean the Knights are necessarily on the inside track or that they will even select any goalie, but people are going to wonder, especially since it’s expected OHL player-of-the-year Michael Houser is done with junior hockey. 

To read the rest of the article, click here.  To follow Neate on Twitter, click here.

  • Finally, the London Knights have two forwards who have been selected to participate in Team Canada’s under-18 selection camp.  Forwards Max Domi and Bo Horvat received invites.  Best of luck to both.

 

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Hitting The Links–Knights Looking For Next Euro Star, Spotlight On Rupert Twins

Mathieu Belanger, REUTERS

In what will be a regular feature as activity surrounding the club picks up, Derek Harmsworth looks around the internet to deliver you the latest London Knights news, all in one easy, convenient location.

  • Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press takes a closer look at the Knights trade yesterday, which saw the team acquire the 9th overall selection in the upcoming CHL import draft in exchange for a trio of OHL draft picks spread out over the next few years.  In the article, co-owner Dale Hunter spoke about the willingness to be aggressive and take risks in order to move up when there is a quality player available.

“We paid a big price to move up, but we paid a big price last year (to move up to first overall) and we got Olli (Maatta),” London co-owner Dale Hunter said. “He came in and fit right in on our blue-line.  You don’t mind doing it to get a player like that.”

To read the rest of the article, click here

  • Mac Christie of the Exeter Times-Advocate takes a closer look at the Rupert twins, and how key their contributions were to the Knights success this past season.  The article features quotes from the two on  variety of topics, including why they work so well together, their goals for next season, and the Memorial Cup loss.

“It’s disappointing that we didn’t win,” he said, “but we came so close.”  He added the loss should fuel the team next season.  “We have a lot of returning players (for next year) so we’ll be experienced from the past Memorial Cup,” the 5’9” centre explained. “We’ll be ready for the next one.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.  To follow Mac Christie on twitter, click here

  • Brian Huddle of Hockeybuzz.com is halfway through his NHL entry draft first round mock series, and has written a piece in which the Ottawa Senators select Olli Maatta with the 15th overall pick.  Included in the article are stats, as well as personal assessment of Maatta, which Huddle saw himself over the course of the year, routinely making appearances at the JLC for scouting purposes.

Standing at six-foot-two and a hefty 200 lbs, Maatta is a sizeable rearguard with a pro-like game. After going first in the CHL Import Draft to London (ahead of Mikhail Grigorenko), Maatta came into this season as an OHL rookie on a championship calibre team and was able to play a big role. That in and of itself says a lot about the abilities of this Finn. However, it was in the playoffs that people really took notice, tying for fourth in OHL scoring with 23 points in 19 games. He also led his London team in scoring in the post-season.

To check out the rest of the article, click here.  To follow Brian on Twitter, click here.

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Knights Trade Up in Import Draft, Announce Preseason Schedule

The London Knights Hockey Club announced today that they have acquired the 9th overall selection in the upcoming CHL import draft from the Peterborough Petes.  In return, the Petes receive the Knights 2nd round pick in the 2013 OHL draft, 4th round in the 2014 OHL draft, and 7th in the 2015 OHL draft.

The Knights also hold the 58th overall pick in the import draft.  The CHL import draft takes place on Wednesday, June 27th.

As Metro London reporter John Matisz pointed out on his twitter account today, the Knights only have two import spots on the roster, and already have Namestnikov and Maatta.  However, there is strong word that Namestnikov could be ready to turn pro, and play in Norfolk of the AHL, the main affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The club also announced their preseason schedule and opponents today.  They kick things off at home on August 31st against Sarnia, and follow that up with a game against Saginaw at the JLC September 2nd.

They hit the road the next night, traveling to Sarnia on September 3rd to battle the Sting.      They round out the preseason by taking on Plymouth at home September 7th, before going head-to-head with Plymouth again the following night in a game that is being played in St. Thomas.

Locker room sale, Memorial Cup jersey auction!

Don’t forget that the London Knights annual dressing room sale begins Wednesday, June 20th.  This is your chance to see the Knights dressing room, as well as get discounts of 10-70% on all merchandise.

The sale wraps up on Friday, June 22nd.  It is open to the public everyday from 10am-6pm, and fans are asked to enter through gate 4 off of Dundas Street.

Two sets of Memorial Cup game-worm jerseys (one green, one cream) will also be available for fans to view and bid on during the sale as well.  These jerseys are also available for bidding through the Knights official website right now, which you can access by clicking here!

 

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