Life in the Ontario Hockey League moves quickly. A three-year career is normal. A four-year career is long and a five-year stint in the league is white-rhinoceros rare.
General managers and scouts are in a perpetual planning stage, looking to the future with keener interest than the present.
It’s like staying ahead of a wave to hopefully one day climb on top and go for a long ride.
A big piece of the future of the Ontario Hockey League and its 20 member teams unfolded on Saturday, April 6 in a 15-round draft held online.
Moves made by the London Knights both this year and last allowed them to build a large base of draft picks. In fact, if you counted up the Knights’ selections in the first five rounds of 2018 and 2019 you would find more than any other Western Conference team.
London accumulated five picks inside the first 53 this year, but their first one didn’t arrive until No. 20 thanks to their first-place finish in the West standings.
With that pick, the Knights made a big splash with a guy known for using his size in Stuart Rolofs of the Kanata Valley Lasers. Rolofs put up 33 goals and 57 points in 39 games in his minor midget season.
“The size jumps off the page, but both of our first two picks have a lot of skill,” said London associate general manager Rob Simpson. “Rolofs can produce as a goal scorer and make plays and when you package that with his frame, he is physically ready to go right now to be able to play in the league. That is a nice combination to be able to put together.”
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Simpson was equally excited about the Knights’ next selection of right-shot defenceman Logan Mailloux at No. 33.
“Logan has skill and a very heavy shot. He can make a very good outlet pass and he can skate very well for a big guy. We definitely like his size, but we like the skill that goes with it too.”
Mailloux checks in at six feet two inches and 209 pounds and spent this past season with the Toronto Marlboros.
With the very next pick, London selected centre Max McCue from the Sudbury Wolves minor midget program.
Simpson pointed to the fact that McCue’s style of play should fit seamlessly with the Knights.
“He thinks the game the way we want to play, which is a puck possession game,” Simpson said. “He’s a playmaker and he also has an edge to him. He’s a guy you really don’t want to play against.”
London owned two picks in the third round as well and used the first on Ty Anselmini of the Guelph Gryphons.
“We really liked him all year, admitted Simpson. “He kind of reminds you of Ryan Rupert. I don’t want to say he because that’s a lot for a young man to carry. But the intense, in-your-face style, the thought process and the way he goes around the ice and gets his business done .”
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London’s final pick in the first 53 was defenceman Connor Federkow of the Niagara North Stars.
Simpson highlighted Federkow’s ability to skate and move pucks, but added a couple of extras.
“He is intense,” smiled Simpson. “He might be five feet nine and a half inches, but he’s physical. He lets you know when he is on the ice.”
In the fourth round, the Knights added Liam Gilmartin from Shattuck St. Mary’s, where the winger averaged better than a point per game.
London selected a goaltender in the fifth round when they chose Cameron Smith of the Markham Waxers.
With their second selection of Round 5, the Knights took defenceman Ethan MacKinnon of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs.
From Round 6 to Round 8, London went after a trio of forwards in Matthew Argentina, Matteo Giampa and Alex Atwil.
Owen Forester of the Toronto Nationals joined the Knights with their pick in the ninth round.
London was able to get Elgin-Middlesex goalie Max Beckford in the 10th.
The Knights finished the last five rounds with forwards Eddie Shepler, Ty Whyte and Maximiliano Montes and defencemen Patrick Haughian and Griffin Zaske.
The Knights will have several of their selections in attendance when they host the Guelph Storm in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens.
Coverage will start at 1:30 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.
Great day for local players
Along with the Knights selections of MacKinnon and Beckford of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, Clint Levens went to North Bay in the fifth and Ryan Burke was selected by Sudbury in the eighth round.
Eight London Jr. Knights went in total. After Harrison in the first round, Jordan D’Intino was drafted by Sault Ste. Marie in the fourth round, Riley Wood went to Peterborough in the eighth, Owen Sound selected winger Tyler Hotson in Round 10 and goalie Michael Simpson went to the Peterbough Petes in the tenth round as well. In the twelfth Cole Watson was selected by the Wolves and Alexander Laszlo went to Oshawa. William German completed the Jr. Knights selections when he was taken by Hamilton in Round 14.
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