When the Ontario Hockey League held its 2020 Priority Selection on April 4, the London Knights knew picks 19, 22 and 25 were going to be key.
All three selections belonged to London and gave the Knights a crack at three of the top 25 players in the draft, and players taken that high can have a massive impact on how competitive a team can be.
With the signing of forward Colton Smith on April 27, all three of those draft picks are now full-fledged members of the London Knights.
London general manager Mark Hunter announced that Smith had signed an OHL standard player agreement and will be with the team when the league returns to play.
“Colton is an offensively gifted forward that is able to use his size to create space and score goals,” said Hunter.
Smith also has tremendous hockey bloodlines.
His father, D.J. Smith, has a resume that dates back to an excellent major junior career with the Windsor Spitfires and 10 seasons of pro hockey with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche and their farm teams in St. John’s, N.L., and Hershey, Pa. His coaching career has seen the elder Smith win three Memorial Cups (two with Windsor in 2009 and 2010 and one with Oshawa in 2015), and he is now the head coach of the Ottawa Senators.
That move took Colton to the Ottawa area for his minor midget season in 2019-20, where he played on a line for the Kanata Lasers with Ben Bujold, who will be a teammate of his with the Knights. Bujold was London’s first-round pick, taken 19th overall. He and the Knights’ second pick, Jackson Edward, have also agreed to play in London.
Colton had 25 goals and 47 points in 41 league games with the Lasers and played in the Hockey Eastern Ontario AAA all-star game.
He was born in Hershey, Pa., when his father was playing for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, and also spent time playing some of his minor hockey in the U.S. with the Belle Tire organization in Michigan.
Knights associate general manager Rob Simpson likes the “edge” that Colton has to his game but admits the offence is what has always stood out.
“Most people forget D.J. was a point-per-game player in his last years in junior, and Colton brings that as well,” Simpson said.
READ MORE: Ben Bujold now officially a London Knight
Colton is one of three NHL sons selected by London in 2020. Landon Sim is the son of Jon Sim, who recorded back-to-back, 56-goal seasons with Hunter in 1995-96 and 1996-97. Sim went on to play 469 games in the NHL.
In the 10th round, the Knights also nabbed Aiden Dubinsky, whose father Steve played for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames, the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues.