These Knights well armoured

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

LONDON -- The London Knights are a team replete with future NHLers.

The trick is in figuring out just who the kids wearing green most resemble from today's NHL.

Scouts, player personnel people, general managers and executives provided us with scouting reports on the Knights Big Five: Rob Schremp, Danny Fritsche, Dylan Hunter, Danny Syvret and Corey Perry.

The question: Which current NHL player could these five Knights max out as.

This is, of course, inexact science. Even the selection of the top five was contentious. Right winger David Bolland could mount a fine argument for inclusion, but here goes:

* Rob Schremp , C, Edmonton Oilers draftee.

Plays like: Marc Savard, Atlanta Thrashers (2003-04 NHL statistics: 19 goals, 33 assists, 52 points, 85 penalty minutes).

"Riverboat gambler," said one league scout. "He'll make you happy and kill you in the same shift. He and Savard are cut from the same cloth."

"Rob has great all-around ability" Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson said. "He can come off the half-wall and shoot the puck in the same way as a Markus Naslund or Joe Sakic. I'm not comparing him to those players, but he has a tremendous shot from that position."

Neither of those two, however demanded a trade from his junior team as Schremp did in ditching Mississauga. The fact that London coach Dale Hunter nailed Schremp's butt to the bench late in last year's OHL final against Guelph also gets your attention. It took Savard three different teams before he found his game.

* Danny Fritsche, C, Columbus Blue Jackets.

Plays like: John Madden, New Jersey Devils (2003-04: 12- 23-35, 22 PIM).

"I see a whole lot of upside with Danny as a speed guy, a leadership-type of player," Blue Jackets GM Doug McLean said. "I have a need for those kind of people in my lineup. He's a ferocious checker and he has a lot more skill than people perceive. He doesn't take penalties, and he doesn't retaliate."

Scouts see Fritsche as a third-line player, initially at least. "He'll play in the league for sure, maybe not as a top-two-line player but as someone who will grind it out." one scout said

Still, like Madden, a free agent find for the Devils, Fritsche has terrific defensive instincts. He's not as fast as Madden, but he drives the net as recklessly as any player in junior hockey.

* Dylan Hunter, LW, Buffalo Sabres.

Plays like: Matt Cooke, Vancouver Canucks (2003-04: 11-12-23, 73 PIM).

"Watch him out there," one veteran evaluator said. "There's a bit of Dale in him. He's chopping people's ankles all the way up the ice."

Hunter isn't anywhere near the agitator his fearless father was, but scouts see a player who has gotten bigger and who has good vision and hockey sense. The problem is that a third-line, banging winger in today's NHL needs to be much bigger than the 5-foot-10 Hunter. "I think Dylan will be a good defensive player, but he's going to play in the minors for a while," another scout said.

* Corey Perry, RW, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Plays like: Jason Allison, Los Angeles Kings (2002-03, 6-22-28, 22 PIM).

"He'll play in the NHL and eventually, on the top two lines," one evaluator said. "The knock on him is his skating but he thinks the game at a level different from 90% of the league. Jason Allison could kill you standing still and you can say the same thing about Corey Perry."

* Danny Syvret, D, undrafted.

Plays like: Kimmo Timonen, Nashville Predators (2003-04: 12-32-44, 52 PIM).

"NHL scouts and general managers are looking for that one great skill that will put a kid in the league," one scout said. "With Syvret, there wasn't that one thing that knocked you over."

Scouts have been knocked over since Syvret scored the winning goal at the world junior championship and won the Max Kaminsky trophy as the OHL's best defender. As a result, Syvret, will stand again for the NHL draft, whenever that happens.

"I would be stunned if he didn't go in the first two rounds," said one scout. "He could have been had for a ninth rounder last year."

Syvret is sound defensively, a good passer, and solid on special teams. He is an adequate skater. Timonen, another smart, smallish defenceman, who was considered two small, but who has nonetheless played in two Olympic Games for Finland, is viewed as the natural comparable.


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