London Knights: Upcoming NHL draft an ‘exciting time’

Isaiah George is not the kind of person who lets things get to him.

As a 17-year old defenceman with the London Knights who entered the 2021-22 season after a year without playing much hockey George was immediately slotted into the Knights top-four. He didn’t miss a beat.

When injuries bumped him up to the top pairing George met the challenge head-on and looked great.

So with the National Hockey League Entry Draft coming up July 7-8 and the next steps of his future feeling as though they are in some sort of sealed container hidden away from sight until his name is called, George isn’t losing sleep wondering where he might go or which NHL team might call his name.

“It’s an exciting time and something I’ve been working towards,” George admitted. “But I’m still staying focused on on the ice and in the gym to be a better player.”

Story continues below advertisement

George’s name appeared as high as 35th among various prospect rankings. He was listed in the second or third round by almost all of the scouting services who release rankings.

Rankings can be something that players look at with one eye open concerned where they might be listed. George says he didn’t feel that way at all.

“It’s a nice feeling, in the moment, to have that recognition,” said George. “Being drafted is a big goal of mine and then to see other people’s perspectives on it was great. I really enjoy the game and even if (the ranking) wasn’t there I would still continue to play as I did and work on getting better.”

Handling the workload he had with the Knights was good preparation for what is to come in George’s career. Going up against another team’s top line at various points during the season was something he welcomed.

“It was a lot of fun. I always just tried to keep a positive mindset and that helped me to learn and adjust on the fly and that helped me to succeed throughout the entire season,” described George.

Story continues below advertisement

That was even after a year that saw him designing workouts with his trainer and his parents that could be done by himself in the basement or on the driveway. Locked down during the COVID pandemic didn’t mean shut out of workouts in any way.

“I had a great support system I terms of my family and my trainer. Basement workouts shooting pucks and working on my hands – doing whatever I could to keep improving.”

It all helped George to shine during his rookie season and put himself in a great position heading into the NHL draft in Montreal, Que.

Click to play video: 'Habs reveal top picks for Thursday’s NHL entry draft in Montreal'
Habs reveal top picks for Thursday’s NHL entry draft in Montreal

George actually grew up rooting for the Canadiens’ biggest rival.

“I was a big Maple Leafs fan and still am, I would say,” George laughed.

Story continues below advertisement

Depending on what plays out at the NHL draft, that may have to change.

Knights select Halttunen in CHL Import Draft

The London Knights selected 17-year old Kasper Halttunen in the first round of the 2022 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

Halttunen is a right-winger from Helsinki, Finland, who spent last season with Jokerit’s U20 team and had 24 goals and 38 points in 41 games. Halttunen also represented Finland at the Under-18 World Hockey Championship where he recorded five points in six games.

Halttunen’s father Niko played professionally for 14 seasons in Finland, Sweden, Italy and the United States. Niko Halttunen also spent 28 games with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL.

This year’s CHL Import Draft made things a bit more challenging for Major Junior teams. It normally takes place following the NHL Entry Draft which gives teams an opportunity to talk to NHL clubs about where they might like to see their prospects develop. Some are very interested in having those prospects come to North America to play. That luxury did not exist this year.

Sponsored content