67's get Couture

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 4:11 PM ET

Brian Kilrea's big gamble on Logan Couture has paid off huge.

The 16-year-old centre, selected by Ottawa in the first round of the OHL draft, will report when the 67's begin camp on Sept. 1.

"You're always looking for the best players and there's no doubt that he's one of the best players," said Kilrea, the 67's GM and coach.

Just last week, the coach and 67's chief scout Joe Rowley visited the Couture family -- Chet is the father and Lori the mother -- in London.

"He's just a complete hockey player that you build your teams on," said Kilrea. "He's great with the puck. He can shoot. He's a playmaker, if you want. He's good on faceoffs and he plays both ends of the rink extremely well."

The 67's rolled the dice on draft day last May when they chose the London native with the 12th overall pick, although the player's agent told all OHL teams that Couture wouldn't report to training camp if selected. Couture had expected to be taken by Oshawa with the first pick of the draft. But when the OHL ruled 14-year-old phenom John Tavares would be eligible, the Generals took him.

Ottawa owner Jeff Hunt arranged a tour of the city for the Coutures, and hosted them in his suite at the Civic Centre for one of the games.

"I remember his eyes lighting up when he saw the 'Welcome Logan' signs all over the building," said Hunt.

"You could imagine how special that would be for a 16-year-old coming to a strange city and feeling so welcome and so appreciated. I know that really impacted him."

Couture said the reputation of the 67's and the treatment he and his family received from the team since the draft made it an easier decision.

"I've talked to a lot of people, and I've heard some great stories about the team," said Couture.

ABLE TO HANDLE PRESSURE

Ottawa fans will expect lots from him next year, but Couture, who stressed he needs to make the team, said he'll be able to handle it.

"I'm just going to try to do what I know I can do, not what people expect me to do," he said.

The 67's can now focus on next Wednesday's European import draft in which they have the first overall pick. Ottawa wants Czech winger Michael Frolik, a 17-year-old prospect expected to be taken early at the next NHL draft.

They've been in contact with his agent, Allan Walsh, about getting a release from Frolik's club team, Rabat Kladno, in the Czech Republic.

IN THE CREASE: The 67's will play two exhibition games against the QMJHL expansion St. John's Fog Devils in Corner Brook, Nfld., Hunt's hometown, Sept. 10 and 11.


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