The opening night of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver on Friday saw one Londoner and one member of the London Knights selected in the first 31 picks.
Connor McMichael was taken 25th overall by the Washington Capitals who won the Stanley Cup just over a year ago. The Capitals watched the second-year forward score 36 goals for the Knights and demonstrate a high hockey IQ in all three zones of the ice. McMichael was originally drafted by the Hamilton Bulldogs and acquired by London in a deal that sent Robert Thomas to Hamilton, where he helped the Bulldogs win the 2018 OHL Championship.
McMichael was often an offensive catalyst who showed the ability to rise up in big moments. The Knights had a “Mac Attack” promotion that offered a Big Mac to everyone in the crowd if London scored a goal during a random two-minute period of time during the game. McMichael managed to score seven of the eleven “Mac Attack” goals. He was ranked between 24th and 52nd in the various scouting rankings going into the draft.
He had 75 points in 65 games with the Colts in 2018-19. Suzuki has a hockey IQ that is off the charts and may fit very well once he gets to the National Hockey League due to his ability to think the game. He was ranked anywhere from 14th to 26th among the various draft rankings going into the weekend.
Rounds two through seven of the draft will be held on Saturday. Here are other players with London or area connections who could hear their names called.
Team: London Knights
Hometown: Nizhnekamsk, Russia
If you factor in all of the adjustments that Guskov made in his first year playing hockey in North America, his progress far outweighed his point production. Guskov did a fantastic job learning English, which he now speaks fluently and learning the nuances of the North American game. Guskov had 30 points as an OHL rookie in 59 games and is a player who plays well in all areas of the ice and has an excellent hockey IQ and skill set. He could very easily have a breakout year in 2019-2020 and was ranked anywhere from 65th to 114th in all of the rankings leading up to the NHL Entry Draft.
Team: Hamilton Bulldogs
Hometown: Lucan, ON
Mutter has a big body at 6’3 and 190 pounds and he makes use of it. At just 17 years old, he was called the second best body checker in the Eastern Conference in the annual OHL coaches poll. He is known for his work in the dirty areas and on the forecheck more than the points he puts up and given the success of the St. Louis Blues in winning the Stanley Cup, those traits may be something teams put a higher premium on. Mutter
Team: London Knights
Hometown: Sudbury, ON
Moskal went undrafted last year but didn’t let that affect his play in 2018-19. He began his junior career as an excellent defensive forward and has developed those skills through his three years with the Knights. Moskal has also turned into one of the best faceoff men in the OHL. As the year went along, he also seemed to pick up a whole new gear in terms of his speed and skating.
Team: Buffalo Jr. Sabres
Hometown: London, ON
Glover played minor hockey with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs and London Jr. Knights and then played in the GOJHL with Strathroy and St. Marys. Glover had a breakout season in the OJHL that saw him get better and better as the year went along. He had a point per game in the playoffs.
Team: London Knights
Like Moskal, Dunkley is entering his second year of eligibility for the NHL Draft. He is an excellent playmaker who shot the puck more in 2018-19 and was rewarded for it with a new career high in goals with 23. Dunkley started his OHL career with the Kingston Frontenacs before being acquired by the Knights.
Other players to watch for:
Vladislav Kolyachonok could find himself drafted in the first round. He was a European Import pick of the Knights who became the odd man out when Adam Boqvist was assigned to London by the Chicago Blackhawks. Kolyachonok joined the Flint Firebirds where he showed off incredible work ethic and skill set. The Belarus native is a sponge when it comes to learning the game.
Brett Budgell is from St. John’s, N.L., But spent a year playing for the London Jr. Knights in 2016-17 and impressed all kinds of scouts heading into his junior career. He now plays in the QMJHL and has become a force with the Charlottetown Islanders, even wearing an “A” as an alternate captain this past season.
Brayden Guy is the son of former London Knight and former Western Mustangs captain Mark Guy. He is heading into his third season with the Sarnia Sting and is known for his physical play and goal scoring ability.