Across the country, junior hockey’s annual summer carousel is spinning away.
The London Knights, in particular, have a handful of imperative personnel decisions to make over the coming months.
The largest — whether to acquire a goaltender via trade to replace the winningest goaltender in franchise history (Michael Houser, who just signed a pro contract) — is something Knights general manager Mark Hunter is not taking lightly.
While he wouldn’t confirm the club is actively shopping for a starting netminder, Hunter admits they are taking a proactive approach to the situation.
“We’re always looking around, but we’ve got another month here to make a decision,” the team’s co-owner told Metro.
With the departure of Misha Donskov and Rob Ramage — the two coaches who focused on the Knights defensive corps during the 2011-12 season — Hunter is also looking for some bench help.
“We’re in the process,” he said of recruiting a replacement or two. “It’s ongoing. We’ve got nothing nailed down at all.”
In terms of officially penciling in certain players into their depth chart, London appears to be closer to signing import draftee Nikita Zadorov (ninth overall in 2012) than 2012 OHL draft second-rounder Alex Broadhurst.
“He should be OK, but until I see him here, he’s not here,” Hunter said of forward Broadhurst, adding defenceman Zadorov will most definitely attend training camp.
On Monday, Waterloo native Kyle Platzer became the sixth player to be signed from London’s 17-player 2011 OHL draft class.
As a member of the junior B Waterloo Siskins last season, Platzer tallied 55 points in 50 games. The 17-year-old winger suited up for four games as an emergency call-up, recording a single assist as a Knight.
“I don’t know when, but he’ll be a top-two line guy for us,” Hunter said of Platzer. “He plays both ends of the ice really well, can score, has good size. So we’re pretty happy with him.”
Despite everything that is on Hunter’s plate right now, there are some things he has no control over.
If the NHLPA and league owners don’t come to an agreement and the big league season is stalled, there will be a severe trickle-down effect. Surefire AHL/NHLers such as Jarred Tinordi, Jared Knight, Greg McKegg, and Vlad Namestnikov could get squeezed out of the professional hockey ranks and end up back in London.
Early training camp details
- Tuesday, Aug. 28 – Thursday, Aug. 30
- Open to the public
- Times and locations to be determined
*This post also appears in Metro’s July 20 print edition