Two Sharks, a Hurricane, a Senator and a Boston Bruin.
The second day of the 2021 NHL Entry draft saw a Londoner, three London Knights and a player set to play for the Knights this year taken in the 185 selections that were made over what became a very long day for National Hockey League Management teams. Day two selections started just after 11 a.m. and didn’t stop until after dinner.
Knights defenceman Ben Roger was the first local connection off the board going 49th overall to Ottawa. Roger has both offensive and defensive ability and is from Brighton, Ont., which is a 30 minute drive from the home of the Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville, Ont.
Roger is born after September 15 so he is considered a late birthday and despite being born in 2002 was not eligible to be selected until this year. He could find himself close to home after one more season in London.
Brett Harrison of the Oshawa Generals was the next area name to be called when the Boston Bruins called his name in the third round with pick 85. Harrison played his minor hockey with the London Jr. Knights and had a great rookie year with the Generals scoring 21 goals and putting up 37 points in 2019-20 before the COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt end to the season.
The San Jose Sharks took the first of two players on the Knights 2021-21 roster when they nabbed feisty forward Max McCue in the fifth round. McCue will play a large role in London this season and brings a mix of skill and grit to his game that got him noticed.
The Sharks drafted another soon-to-be Knights forward in Liam Gilmartin who they selected in the sixth round. Gilmartin is from Falls Church, VA., and spent 2020-21 with the U.S. Under-18 team. He is a power forward who used to play for the Washington Little Caps in an arena where a banner honouring London head coach Dale Hunter just happens to hang. Gilmartin was a fourth round pick of the Knights in 2019.
Defenceman Bryce Montgomery rounded out day two when he went to the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round. Montgomery is a player who is thought to have all kinds of potential. He will play his second season in London this upcoming year. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News identified the pick of Montgomery by Carolina as one of the reasons he considered them to be one of the big draft winners.
There were 45 former Knights who played at least one game in the NHL this past year. By comparison Sault Ste. Marie was second with 22.
In all London has had 188 players drafted over the team’s history which is the most by any Ontario Hockey League team.