The Knights are the only team from the Ontario Hockey League, in fact, to have at least one player selected in the NHL draft every year since 1983. London also has seen a League-high six players selected in each of the past two NHL drafts. It seems the Knights have been the top destination for the best players, as notable retired numbers include Rob Ramage (5), Dino Ciccarelli (8), Darryl Sittler (9), Brendan Shanahan (19), Brad Marsh (22), Rick Nash (61) and Corey Perry (94).
"The Knights are competitive every year and the facilities are second to none," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "There is an excellent coaching staff in place who have developed several players into NHL stars. The players are given every opportunity to be successful on the ice and in life. They're one of the best organizations in the [Canadian Hockey League]."
There are two young players hoping to continue that trend of pipeline dominance this June when the 2014 NHL Draft is held at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Defenceman Santino Centorame and left wing Christian Dvorak are both C-rated skaters on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list.
While ice time has been hard to come by with the likes of forwards Max Domi (Phoenix Coyotes), Michael McCarron (Montreal Canadiens), Bo Horvat (Vancouver Canucks), Ryan Rupert (Buffalo Sabres), Chris Tierney (San Jose Sharks), Josh Anderson (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Kyle Platzer (Edmonton Oilers) and defencemen Brady Austin (Buffalo Sabres) and Nikita Zadorov (Buffalo Sabres) earning much of the spotlight, Centorame and Dvorak have played well when given their chance.
It seems coach Dale Hunter will go to any lengths to make certain both players see the ice as much as possible.
"[London] is stacked with drafted players and veterans so the two kids get limited ice time," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told NHL.com. "With Zadorov back [from Buffalo], Centorame dressed as seventh defenceman but played shifts on right wing as well."
Centorame has two goals, four points, 18 penalty minutes and a plus-3 rating in 25 games. He was the team's fourth-round pick (No. 83) in the 2012 OHL priority selection draft.
Dvorak, an eighth-round pick (No. 163) in the 2012 OHL draft, had 92 points in 58 games for the Chicago Mission Midget-Major AAA team in 2012-13. He has five goals, 12 points and a plus-5 rating in 27 games this season.
"Christian is a very good skater who combines speed, agility and quickness," Edwards said. "He handles the puck very well both forehand and back and has been used in all situations this season. On most nights he starts out on the fourth line, but by the third period he's taking a regular shift with the top line.
"He sees the ice well and can pass the puck very well through traffic and he uses his quickness to get himself open and into good scoring position."
CENTRAL SCOUTING UPGRADES
Three players recently were upgraded to A ratings on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list from the Ontario Hockey League.
Right wing Nikolay Goldobin and defenceman Anthony DeAngelo of the Sarnia Sting, and center Eric Cornel of the Peterborough Petes, now are identified as potential first-round candidates for the 2014 draft.
DeAngelo, who was one of eight defencemen invited to USA Hockey's selection camp for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship later this month, leads all OHL defencemen with 39 points in 27 games. Goldobin has 18 goals and 36 points in 28 games.
Cornel has been a pleasant surprise with 10 goals and 23 points in 29 games.
"Cornel is a strong skater with NHL speed; he has a heads-up game carrying and moving the puck around, good vision and hands in traffic," Marr told NHL.com. "He's a very good playmaker, able to make plays while being checked and very effective winning faceoffs.
"His overall game is getting stronger. He's playing with more confidence, playing through adversity and getting results."
All three were B-rated skaters on Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch release.
DRAFT-ELIGIBLE INVITES AT CANADA CAMP
The recently revealed Canadian National Junior Team selection camp roster features two A-rated skaters on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list for the 2014 NHL Draft.
Both players are considered by many to be the best at their position on the draft board -- forward Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League and defenceman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. Both players serve as captains for their respective teams.
Reinhart, who has 16 goals and 46 points in 30 games for the Ice, captained Canada to the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
Ekblad, 17, has 23 points in 26 games. It is expected that just one defenceman will be cut from the eight that were invited to Canada's selection camp.
"You're that close but you're that far away," Ekblad told the Barrie Examiner. "You have to go in there and prove yourself and work hard. You can't take a day off when you're there or leading up to it. I'm really excited to have this opportunity but I know there's a lot of hard work ahead."
Another undrafted player to keep an eye on during Canada's selection camp, which runs Dec. 12-15 in Toronto, is 2015 draft-eligible center Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters of the OHL. The 16-year-old was one of 15 forwards invited to camp. McDavid was chosen No. 1 in the 2012 OHL draft by Erie and had 66 points in 63 games as a rookie last season. He already has 45 points in 27 games this season. If he makes the team, he would become the first 16-year-old since Sidney Crosby in 2004 to do so.
DRAFT ELIGIBLE INVITES AT USA CAMP
There are two promising 2014 draft prospects on the United States National Junior Team selection camp roster released Wednesday.
DeAngelo and goalie Thatcher Demko of Boston College are regarded as A-rated prospects on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list for the 2014 draft.
Demko, the youngest player in NCAA hockey, could become the first American-born goalie drafted in the first round since Jack Campbell by the Dallas Stars in 2010. The native of San Diego, Calif., was the youngest goalie invited to USA Hockey's summer evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August. He's 3-1-1 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in five games.
"Thatcher is extremely competitive and very coachable," Boston College goalie coach Mike Ayers told NHL.com. "To me, if you have those two things it's very positive for his development. For a bigger kid [6-foot-3.75, 192 pounds], he's pretty athletic. I think at the beginning of the year he may have lacked just a little bit of confidence knowing he was the youngest college player and that's only natural. But he's continued to battle and has gotten wins for us. For a 17-year-old freshman to come in and do what he's done is pretty impressive. It's a true sign of his makeup and attitude and his hunger to be better."
DeAngelo recently was upgraded from a B rating to an A rating on Central Scouting's list.
"[DeAngelo] has excellent speed and quickness and is improving his ability to manage the risks versus the rewards in decisions," Marr said. "He's a very dynamic player with good offensive tools. He can generate chances, competes hard and always plays with energy."
The youngest player on the roster is 2015 draft-eligible center Jack Eichel of the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team. The 17-year-old center, who is committed to Boston University in 2014-15, has 17 goals and 35 points in 19 games.
"Jack Eichel is a dynamic offensive player," U.S. National Junior Team general manager Jim Johannson said. "Regardless of his age, we feel he's ready for this challenge and that's why he's invited. He's physically ready at (6-2, 193). He's had real good success against the college schedule we've played and he's dominated the [United States Hockey League] schedule he's played."
PROSPECTS ON THE RISE
1. Joshua Jacobs, Indiana Ice (USHL): The 6-foot-1.75, 193-pound defenceman is in his second season with the Ice. Committed to Michigan State University in 2014-15, the B-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list has one goal, nine points and a plus-5 rating in 17 games. Jacobs, known to be steady and consistent along the blue line, lists Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty as his favorite player. He won a gold medal representing the United States at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge. His Canadian Hockey League rights belong to the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, who selected him in the fourth round (No. 72) of the 2012 OHL draft.
"Josh is a solid two-way defender and is still growing into his body," Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen told NHL.com. "He moves well in all directions and handles the puck well. He can one time the puck with good pace on his shot and is good at stick defending. He closes fast on opponent."
2. Ty Edmonds, Prince George Cougars (WHL): The C-rated goalie on Central Scouting's November players to watch list is 8-8-2 with two shutouts, a 3.51 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 23 games. At 6-1.5 and 174 pounds, he possesses good size and is reliant on his good instincts in net.
"He's a mid- to late-round draft pick," Central Scouting's Al Jensen told NHL.com. "He's battled and worked hard, is a positional-style goalie and was very strong in his crease during my viewings. He challenged well and has decent overall quickness. His great work ethic and instincts will definitely help him improve."
3. Brayden Point, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): In his second full season with the Warriors, the 5-9.5, 160-pound right-shot center has nine goals and ranks third on the team with 22 points in 31 games. He also has five power-play goals, earning the confidence of his coaches on specialty teams. Point was a B-rated skater on Central Scouting's November list and is gaining traction. He had two goals and nine points in 13 games in November. Point won a gold medal with Canada at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament, totaling one goal and four points in five games.
DRAFT DANDY OF THE WEEK: KASPERI KAPANEN
After helping lead Finland to a bronze medal in the 2013 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with five goals and eight points in seven games, forward Kasperi Kapanen has his sights set on an even bigger tournament later this month.
The odds that Kapanen earns a roster spot for his country at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden are good at this stage. As an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list, the 6-foot, 180-pound right-handed shot has been playing with men in Finland's top league for KalPa and has two goals, four points and a plus-2 rating in 21 games.
"I like to play a physical game and play a lot with the puck," Kapanen told NHL.com. "I love to shoot, pass the puck and score goals. I guess you can call it an offensive type of game."
Kapanen is the son of former NHL forward Sami Kapanen, who spent 12 seasons in the League and totaled 189 goals and 458 points in 831 games with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. The elder Kapanen represented his country at the 1992 and 1993 World Junior Championships.
What does Kasperi remember most about father's playing days?
"Probably just the way he competed and played against big guys, even back in the day when the rules were different," Kapanen said.
Finland will release its selection camp roster for the 2014 WJC on Monday. The camp will take place Dec. 16-18 in Vierumaki, Finland. A second camp will be held in Malmo, Sweden, from Dec. 19-22.
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer