The Hunters have a hockey-filled family tree.
Mark, Dale and Dave all had long careers in the National Hockey League. Their brother Ron played for the Kitchener Rangers. Ron’s son, Logan, played in the OHL with the Knights, and his daughter, Meghan, starred at Wisconsin and is currently the Director of Hockey Administration for the Chicago Blackhawks. Dylan Hunter finished his career in the AHL and stepped behind the bench. Rick Steadman played in the OHL and USports and also went into coaching.
We could swing through even more branches but you get the picture.
As Mark and Dale Hunter and the rest of their London Knights managers and scouts made their way through the 2021 OHL Priority Selection, the family trees of other hockey clans stood out among the forest of sixteen new faces who were chosen over the two days of the annual draft.
London brought three sons of National Hockey Leaguers and three brothers of OHLers into their fold.
After taking dynamic forwards Denver Barkey of the Toronto Titans and Easton Cowan of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs with their first two selections, the Knights snagged Oliver Bonk, the son of former Ottawa Senators forward Radek Bonk with pick 26 overall.
Radek Bonk played 14 seasons in the NHL and many of those years saw him sport one of the most famous heads of hair hockey has seen. It has since been immortalized in blog form by bonksmullet.com
Unless Oliver Bonk makes use of some magic elixir between now and the expected start of training camp, he won’t be known for flowing locks, but his own head of hair and his hockey skills do stand out.
“When we interviewed him on Zoom he had dyed-blonde hair,” admitted London associate general manager Rob Simpson. “He’s definitely a player who has a lot of character and poise.”
The Knights selected the son of another former Senator in the 6th round, landing the top goaltender on their draft list in Rylan Donovan of the Kemptville 73s. His father is Shean Donovan, who is still with the Ottawa Senators as their development coach and also played with Dale Hunter in Colorado. Shean’s son and Rylan’s brother, Jorian, were drafted 6th overall last year by the Hamilton Bulldogs.
London landed back-to-back brother acts in round nine and with their first selection in round 10.
Left-winger Blake Montgomery is the brother of current Knights defenceman Bryce Montgomery.
“With Blake, we see a lot of upside,” said Simpson. “He maybe hasn’t had the competition just yet, but we feel, once he gets into a higher level here, his athleticism and talent will just take off.”
With their next selection, London took Michael Levin, who spent the early years of his life in Tel Aviv, Israel, and is the brother Sudbury Wolves forward David Levin. The Wolves selected David first overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.
Finally, in the 13th round, the Knights drafted Braiden Clark, whose father is Chris Clark. Chris played in the NHL for Calgary, Washington and Columbus in a career that spanned from 1999 to 2011.
“(London co-owner) Basil McRae gave us a call about Braiden Clark after seeing him play live,” recalls Simpson. “He liked his power-forward type of style.”
Add in the rest of the newly drafted Knights talent to the players already on the London roster, and the hope is that they can form some strong foundational roots that one day will produce some more big rings for the organization.
Draft pick scouting reports:
1- Denver Barkey – C – Toronto Titans – says he models his game after two other smallish players in Mitch Marner and Brayden Point.
2- Easton Cowan – C – Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs – says he is a 200-foot player who also tries to model his game after Marner’s vision and playmaking ability.
2- Oliver Bonk – RD – Carleton Place Canadians – two-way defenceman with a great combination of skill and poise on the blue line.
3- Mathieu Paris – C – Navan Grads – point producer who creates time and space for himself — a natural knack for letting plays develop.
3 – Carson Lloyd – RD – Kitchener Jr. Rangers – great skater with a big shot from the point who makes a good first pass.
5 – Kaeden Johnston – RW – Peterborough Petes U16 – went through a growth spurt that makes him a bigger player with high-end skill.
6 – Rylan Donovan – G – Kemptville 73s – very athletic with quick side-to-side movement, reads the play well and has good patience and poise in the net.
7 – Aram Minnetian – RD – Mid Fairfield Jr Rangers – committed to the United States National Development Program… exceptional skill, complete two-way defender with high-end offence… can also kill penalties.
8 – Charlie Cerrato – C – Detroit Honeybaked – also committed to the United States National Development Program… skates incredibly well and can score… owns a good shot but can also make plays off the rush.
8 – Jonathan Castagna – LW – Toronto Marlboros – big winger with a good shot… has good speed and continues to improve year after year.
9 – Blake Montgomery – LW – Skipjacks Academy – good-sized winger who protects the puck well… outstanding athlete.
10 – Michael Levin – RW – Markham Majors – high-end skill with all kinds of potential.
10 – Brady O’Malley – LD – Detroit Compuware – has relatives who have been season ticket holders of the Kitchener Rangers so he knows about the OHL… excellent hockey sense… can play power play and kill penalties… has good size.
11 – Owen Voortman – C – Thunder Bay Kings – smart, playmaking centre… good skater.
13 – Braiden Clark – C – Ohio AAA Blue Jackets – power forward style of game… has good size… strong skater.
14 – Sam Tonelli – C – Southern Tier Admirals – skilled player who can excel on the power play… lots of grit… owns a nasty streak.