Luke Evangelista of the London Knights has taken his next step in hockey.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Oakville, Ont., native was selected in the second round, 42nd overall in the 2020 NHL draft.
Evangelista’s career has been on a steady upward trend since he entered the Ontario Hockey League as London’s first-round pick in 2018.
He spent his first year of major junior learning and adjusting. Evangelista played in just 27 games as a 16-year-old but his performance in practice and his overall attitude made his coaches and teammates take notice.
Evangelista got his sophomore season underway with seven points in eight games, all of them assists.
On Oct. 19, 2019, against the Kingston Frontenacs, Evangelista went to the net and took a pass from lineman and billet-mate Connor McMichael and put home his first OHL goal and it started a landslide.
Before that game ended, Evangelista had scored twice more to complete his first OHL hat trick and help to propel the Knights to a 6-3 victory.
That game became part of an eight-game point streak and a season that saw Evangelista score 23 goals and record 61 points.
His patience and poise with the puck and his penchant for making the right play at the right time had Evangelista rising up draft lists all year long.
He ended the season at number 39 in the NHL Central Scouting rankings and was the 21st-rated prospect by hockeyprospect.com
“Some of his hockey IQ reminded me of Bo Horvat in the way that Dale Hunter used him,” said hockeyprospect.com‘s Mark Edwards. “The way that Dale trusted him with important minutes and on the penalty kill. He is an incredibly smart player.”
Evangelista is the first Knights player ever to be selected by the Predators. Nashville prospects Austin Watson and Brett Angel both played in London but they were each drafted while they were members of other OHL teams.
The Buffalo Sabres traded up in the second round of the NHL draft to select J.J. Paterka with the 34th pick. The Knights selected Paterka in the 2020 CHL Import Draft in June.
Several former London Knights players have found themselves involved in trades this week. Two former teammates were traded for each other on Oct. 6 as the Montreal Canadiens sent Max Domi and a third-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Josh Anderson. Domi and Anderson were part of back-to-back OHL championships in 2012 and 2013 with the Knights.
On Wednesday, Jonathan Gruden, who played for London in 2019-20, was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Ottawa Senators for goaltender Matt Murray. The Penguins also received a second-round pick in the deal.