April 7, 2018 9:51 pm
Updated: April 9, 2018 9:24 am

OHL draft brings new faces to the London Knights

The Knights chose skilled forward Luke Evangelista from the Oakville Rangers as one of their draft picks on Saturday.

Mike Stubbs/980 CFPL
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As fans gathered in downtown London for a draft party on Saturday morning, the London Knights made the picks that will fill out their OHL roster for years to come.

London had five of the first 53 selections and 16 picks overall. Eight area players wound up being drafted in total as well.

Beginning with the Knights, here’s how the picks played out.

London, Ont. native Luke Evangelista signs his first autograph as a member of the London Knights after being selected 14th overall in the 2018 OHL draft.

Mike Stubbs/980 CFPL

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Round 1: With the 14th selection overall, the Knights drafted right-winger Luke Evangelista from the Oakville Rangers. Evangelista is a skilled forward who has high-end skill and a huge competive level.

He had 96 points in 39 games with Oakville. Evangelista is known for having an extremely accurate shot, excelling in a number of situations with the Rangers in his minor midget year.

Evangelista is a second cousin of former London Knight and current Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.

Round 2: The Knights took forward Anthony Strangis, who played for Detroit’s Little Caesars last season and is regarded as one of the most skilled and electrifying junior players available.

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Round 2: With their second pick in the second round, London took Sahil Panwar from Detroit’s HoneyBaked. Panwar is a high-scoring forward with a low centre of gravity, which makes it very difficult to take the puck away from him once he gets it on his stick.

Round 3: The Knights took a defenceman with their first of two picks in the third round. Gerard Keane is the younger brother of Barrie Colts defenceman Joey Keane and played last year with the Chicago Mission.

Round 3: With the 53rd pick, London took forward Sean McGurn from the Ottawa Jr. Senators. A player London had higher in their draft rankings, McGurn is known for his hockey IQ and for making a difference in all three zones of the ice.

Round 4: The Knights selected Ben Roger from the Quinte Red Devils. Roger was a point producer in Quinte last season and while he has a thin frame at only 128 lbs., he is 5’11 and should have the ability to fill out.

Round 5: London picked Avery Winslow, who was born in Florida but moved to Saskatchewan to attend Notre Dame and play for the Hounds.

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Round 6: The Knights selected goaltender Brett Brochu from the Chatham-Kent Cyclones. Brochu is more Juuse Saros than Pekka Rinne, coming in at just under ‘’8 at the moment, but performed well for a Cyclones team that often counted on him to handle a heavy workload.

Round 7: London stuck close to home with the 134th pick as they went with right-winger Brendan Mairs from the London Jr. Knights. He had 44 points in 33 league games with London in 2017-18.

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Round 8: Jacob Truscott was selected by the Knights in the 8th round. He is a skilled, puck-moving defenceman who spent last season with the Detroit Little Caesars U15s.

Round 9: London picked forward Dane Dowiak from the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U16s. He can play centre or wing and averaged better than a point per game this past season.

Round 10: Dario Beljo brings some more familiar bloodlines to the Knights — his uncle, Jadran Beljo, played for the Knights in 2007-08.

Beljo is known for being good on faceoffs and was considered one of the most improved players on the Sudbury Wolves minor midget team.

Round 11: London selected right-winger Grant Eastwood from the Smiths Falls Bears. He had 21 points in 37 games playing in a very competitive league in Eastern Ontario in 2017-18.

Round 12: Chase Strychaluk was taken with the 234th pick. He is a forward who was a teammate of Luke Evangelista this year with the Oakville Rangers.

Round 13: The Knights picked goaltender Owen Willis from the Markham Majors.

Round 15: London used their final selection of the day on centre Vincent Labelle from the Rockland Nationals.

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London and area: The first London Jr. Knight selected was George Diaco. The 5’5 centre was taken by the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Defenceman Sheldon Serraglio was selected in the 8th round by the Peterborough Petes and forward Quinton Pepper went to Guelph in the 9th round.

Forward Joey Studnicka went to the Petes in round 14. Studnicka is the cousin of Jack Studnicka of the Oshawa Generals and Sam Studnicka, who played for Sarnia and Ottawa during his OHL career.

Defenceman Nathan Small of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs went to Owen Sound in the seventh round while Chiefs forward Rylan Bowers was picked by Mississauga in the 12th.

Two more Chiefs went in the later rounds as the Steelheads took Michael McKnight in the 14th and Sarnia selected defenceman Billy Faragher in the 15th.

London’s Darren Beattie, who spent the season with the Lambton Jr Sting was taken in the fifth round by the Sudbury Wolves.

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