Three London Knights and three London-area players had their names called over the two days of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal, Que.
The first round of the draft on July 7 was full of intrigue, surprise and back-to-back Slovakian selections at the very top, the first time that has happened.
Day two on July 8 fought its way through internet issues and cellular chaos and produced some great local success stories. Let’s break them down in reverse order.
London Knights defenseman Jackson Edward – Boston Bruins 7th round – 200th overall
Edward could not have scripted his spot any better than it actually turned out. When he joined the Knights for his rookie year, Edward was asked about growing up in Newmarket, Ont., and whether living there automatically makes you a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He basically said, not right away.
“Actually growing up I was probably more of a Boston fan,” admitted Edward. “When they won in 2011 I was really beginning to watch hockey so I would say I was more of a Boston fan until (Toronto) picked up (Mitch) Marner and (Auston) Matthews, and then I began following them as well.”
Edward played hockey for the love of the sport when he was young and never even envisioned playing in the Ontario Hockey League let alone getting a crack at the NHL. Not long before he was drafted by the Knights, his game really began to improve and playing major junior came into focus.
Edward has size, burgeoning offensive ability, awareness and a definite mean-streak that hides a bit under the surface that would make him a great addition to the Boston blue line in a few years.
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London Knights forward Landon Sim – St. Louis Blues – 6th round – 184th overall
The National Hockey League is something Landon Sim may have dreamed about growing up. But the NHL was also something that was part of his life. His father, Jon, played 469 NHL games. His last one of him came in 2010-11, when Landon was just six and seven years old, but the NHL ties stayed strong even after that.
“My dad used to run a charity event called ‘Play the Pros,’ and pros like Brad Marchand would come and skate with us,” said Sim. “I remember Marchand would try and trip us. It was just his personality of him and I think I kind of have a little of that same personality in me. ”
Sim has a non-stop motor and is always involved in whatever is happening on the ice. He continues to become the type of player who you love to play with and hate to play against.
Sim put up 12 goals as a rookie and will look to grow that total and that side of his game in year two with the Knights as he looks to one day suiting up for St. Louis.
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London Knights defenseman Isaiah George – New York Islanders – 4th round – 98th overall
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The smile on Isaiah George’s face in Montreal, Que., said it all. There he stood in an Islanders jersey minutes after hearing his name called him just a little over a year after putting himself through the peace of pandemic workouts at home.
“I had a great support system in terms of my family and my trainer. Basement workouts, shooting pucks and working on my hands, doing whatever I could to keep improving,” George said.
That work helped him jump right into the Knights lineup in 2021-22 and become a go-to defender at the young age of 17. George matched up against the other team’s top lines when injuries set in and performed well.
“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,” said George.
The Oakville, Ont., native has incredible athleticism that gives him the ability to carve his way around opponents when he has the puck. He makes great decisions and will be counted on in a big role on the Knights’ blue line this upcoming season as he looks to get close to wearing that Islanders uniform on a regular basis.
Soo Greyhounds forward Bryce McConnell-Barker – New York Rangers – 3rd round – 97th overall
Former London Jr. Knight Bryce McConnell-Barker had a huge rookie season in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. His 23 goals from him ranked seventh among all OHL rookies.
McConnell-Barker was fifth in Greyhounds scoring and carved out a bigger and bigger role as the season progressed.
Along with his great skill set, which includes a pro-ready shot, McConnell-Barker showed off a determination and will to make things happen.
McConnell-Barker could get the chance to play with his brother Brodie in Sault Ste. Marie in 2022-23. Brodie was selected by the Greyhounds in the third round of the 2022 OHL Priority Selection.
Erie Otters defenseman Christian Kyrou – Dallas Stars – 2nd round – 50th overall
Christian Kyrou is hoping to play alongside his own brother at some point in the future, although it doesn’t appear they will be wearing the same uniform. They could very easily meet up in a corner with Jordan Kyrou of the St. Louis Blues trying to get the puck to the Stars net and Christian trying to take it from his older bro of him and go the other way.
Christian is about as elusive as a defenseman can get. He can fake head and fake shoulder his way into a place where he will take a shot or find an open teammate in the offensive zone.
Christian put up an impressive 18 goals and 60 points while playing all 68 games as a 17-year-old rookie for the Erie Otters in 2021-22.
He can already run an OHL power play. Kyrou finished second in the OHL in power play assists among rookies last season.
The Stars have a stable of great defensemen on their roster and Kyrou will now be looking to join them.
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Barrie Colts forward Hunter Haight – Minnesota Wild – 2nd round – 47th overall
When you watch a Barrie Colts game, Hunter Haight pops out at you. He’s always doing something every time he is on the ice. It might be scoring a goal or creating a scoring chance but it could also be hounding someone on the back check or stealing a puck and zooming the other way. Haight makes himself noticeable through all-out determination.
Haight scored 22 goals as a rookie for the Colts, flashing his offensive ability.
He will have a large role with Barrie in 2022-23 and the Wild will be watching closely.
Salary cap issues in Minnesota will make young players on entry-level contracts not only enticing but actually vital. It will open the door for players who have NHL-level skills to make their team. Haight is aiming to put himself into that conversation.
London Knights draft pick Frank Nazar – Chicago Blackhawks – 1st round – 13th overall
The Knights selected Frank Nazar from the US National Development Program in the fifth round of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection. Nazar is an elite talent. He can play wing or center and has an IQ that is exceptionally high.
Nazar is committed to the University of Michigan which, like the London Knights, is an excellent program for a player’s development. Nazar and the Blackhawks have lots of options for that development looking to this upcoming season.
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