The London Knights roster enters the upcoming season chocked full of depth.
The Knights do not hurt for players to play on their final roster. Many of them are still young and looking to gain key experience, but their ceilings and skillsets are sky high.
Take this into consideration: Eight players from London’s 2020 draft class have played games in the Ontario Hockey League. The Knights’ top six picks from 2021 have all played at least one game. Generally, if you can get five or six draft picks who play significant roles total from any given OHL Priority Selection, you have done well.
Other prospects from those two drafts could still enter into the equation and 2022 looks very promising as well.
Still, there are three names with major question marks spinning around them.
Here’s what we know right now about last year’s number one goalie Brett Brochu, European Import draft pick Kasper Halttunen and Chicago Blackhawks first-rounder Frank Nazar.
The reigning OHL goaltender of the year is the biggest question mark for this season. Brochu has every right to argue that he has done enough to earn a professional contract because he has. Without an injury that robbed him of the last six weeks of the regular season and stymied him at times in the first round against Kitchener, Brochu might have already put pen to paper with an NHL or AHL team. He attended summer development camp with the Vancouver Canucks, won gold with Team Canada at the summer edition of the World Junior Championship and will get a look at Vancouver’s rookie camp this fall. London can always be a fallback for him and the Knights would welcome him back with open arms.
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The chances of seeing Frank Nazar in a Knights uniform seemed to take a step forward when he was selected 13th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. London and Chicago have terrific ties from Blackhawks assistant general manager Meghan Hunter to Patrick Kane, whose one year with the Knights propelled him to the number one overall pick in 2007. However, Nazar is headed to Michigan to play for the Wolverines this fall. Had Nazar been one year older, the story may have been different. Nazar very much wants to play centre. He feels that’s where he is strongest and last year Michigan was stacked down the middle with the likes of Matty Beniers, Thomas Bordeleau, Garrett Van Whye and Johnny Beecher. All four have graduated, leaving Nazar a whole lot of room for what could be some major ice time as a freshman. Sometimes players will start their NCAA careers and find that seniors tend to get the bulk of the minutes. The Wolverines may not have that luxury this year, meaning fans in London may have to head to Ann Arbor, Mich., or Chicago, Ill., to see Nazar play.
The Knights will open camp on Friday, September 2 at Budweiser Gardens.
Friday, September 2
1:30pm-3:00pm Team Black vs. Team White
3:10pm-4:40pm Team Gold vs. Team Green
Saturday, September 3
8:00am-9:30am Team Black vs. Team Green
9:40am-11:10am Team White vs. Team Gold
1:00pm-2:50pm Team White vs. Team Green
3:00pm-4:50pm Team Black vs. Team Gold
Sunday, September 4
2:00pm-4:00pm Team Green vs. Team Gold