Four London Knights selected in 2017 NHL Entry Draft
From Robert Thomas and Alex Formenton in the first two rounds to Brandon Crawley and Jacob Golden in the middle rounds, four more London Knights were added to the already plentiful collection of NHL prospects and NHL players to come from the organization.
In the past five drafts, 21 players have been selected from the Knights. Go back ten years and the number grows to 35.
Thomas heard his name called on Friday night in round one, picked 20th overall by the St. Louis Blues.
St. Louis was one of the most active teams on the floor in the first round, acquiring Brayden Schenn in a deal with Philadelphia and then snaring the 31st pick from Pittsburgh to use on Russian sniper Klim Kostin.
In Thomas, the Blues get a play-making centre with the ability to do all the things that help teams win.
He will attend development camp with St. Louis this summer and rookie camp with the team in the fall.
Teams began to fire off picks one after the other as round two began on Saturday morning, which shortened any kind of wait for Alex Formenton, who was drafted 47th overall by the Ottawa Senators.
Formenton is the kind of player who seems to be writing his own movie script. He went from a late 11th-round pick in the 2015 OHL priority selection to a high pick in the NHL Draft in just two years.
The King City native has all kinds of speed and skill, but his ceiling is still relatively unknown. Formenton played mostly third- and fourth-line roles on a veteran Knights team. He will get more high-profile opportunities in 2017-18.
Formenton is the kind of player who keeps opponents honest, thanks to his ability to fly down the ice into the offensive zone.
Crawley was no lock to hear his name called at all in the draft. It didn’t happen in 2015 or 2016 in Crawley’s first two years of eligibility, but it did in the fourth round this time around as the New Jersey native went to the New York Rangers.
For someone whose family spends most Christmases skating around the giant tree at Rockefeller Center, it was kind of like going home.
Crawley had been a camp invite of Columbus and Pittsburgh over the past two years, but had never become an official prospect. Now he is.
The Glen Rock, N.J. native had showed steady improvement and added more of a physical edge and offensive threat to his game in 2016-17.
Crawley was originally a free agent signing of the Knights prior to the 2014 OHL season and helped them to a Memorial Cup championship in 2016.
Had he not been drafted, Crawley was an excellent candidate for one of London’s three overage spots. He will be heading to Rangers’ training camp looking to earn a contract. If he does, there is a good chance Crawley will have already played his last game as a Knight.
Golden joined the Knights as a rookie this past season, deciding to forego an opportunity at Harvard and saw it pay off in the fifth round of the draft as he was selected by the Minnesota Wild.
Golden is an exceptional skater who uses a good understanding of the game to get the puck where it needs to go. He was brought along slowly in London in 2016-17, but will likely have a greater role in his second OHL season.
Golden appeared in just 38 games, recording three assists and would have been considered a long shot to be drafted at all. He was rated 144th overall among only North American skaters, received a little more love from Hockeyprospects.com, coming in at #184, but went unrated by several other scouting services.
The Wild will have taken him with the hope they can take advantage of his skills and development in a few years. There is a good chance they have chosen wisely.
Former London Knights player Drake Rymsha was picked by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round. Rymsha’s father was a Knights draft pick — when he was eight, Drake Rymsha told his dad that he was also going to play in London. Rymsha went from the Knights to the Ottawa 67s and was acquired by Sarnia this past year.
London natives Nick Suzuki and Isaac Ratcliffe were also drafted. Suzuki went 13th overall to the Vegas Golden Knights, while Ratcliffe went 35th to the Philadelphia Flyers.
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