Knights facing net loss

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

As the London Knights made deal after deal headed to a Memorial Cup championship last season, they knew this year they'd have to find players to replace the talent they dealt away.

But one position they weren't worried about was goaltender.

Well, surprise, surprise.

Both Gerald Coleman and Adam Dennis head off to National Hockey League camps next week and it's no sure thing they'll be back.

To make matters even more interesting, the guy who at one time would have been the No. 1 guy to take over for Coleman and Dennis is now with the Guelph Storm. Jason Guy, who played last season with the junior B St. Thomas Stars, was part of the deal that saw Dennis come to London. He was in a pool of players the Storm got to choose from after the season when they agreed to send back two draft picks to London after the initial Dennis deal.

"What can I tell you? I don't know yet (about goaltending)," Knights general manager Mark Hunter said. "(Guy) was a future consideration. He was one of the guys in the mix.

"He was a good goaltender and we liked him a lot, but the bottom line was we we did what we thought was best for the hockey club at that time."

The bottom line was a Memorial Cup win. But the Knights goaltending situation is a case of the best-laid plans not always working out.

When asked about whether he wanted to give up Guy, Hunter said, "We don't like to give up any of our players."

Last year Coleman would have been a sure bet to return. But as the season progressed, he improved dramatically and earned a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Dennis was not drafted when he came to London but he came to a high-profile team carrying a reputation of being able to steal games on his own. The Buffalo Sabres surprised many by taking Dennis as a late-round pick. What the plans are for Dennis aren't clear but moves within the Sabres organization have left room for goaltenders. If he plays well, he'll stick.

Which leaves the door open with the Knights.

"We thought we'd have one back and we still might," Hunter said. "And if we don't, that's great for them. That's the business we're in. Someone at this camp might come out and win a job. It's early."

Hunter has never been afraid to make moves. When asked what he would do if neither goaltender came back and he wasn't comfortable with what he had, he said, "we'll find something."

Clearly the Knights believed the possibility that both their goalies wouldn't be returning was a long shot. That's why they made Guy available even though they liked him as a potential starter.

Dennis says he was prepared to go to some team's camp as a free agent but he wasn't surprised to get drafted.

"Several teams talked to me. Buffalo wasn't one of them," he said. "So while I thought I'd get drafted, it was a really pleasant surprise when Buffalo picked me.

"I've been told that there are spots in the organization and what I have to do is go out and prove that I can play at the pro level."

Which brings us to this year. Not counting Coleman and Dennis, the Knights had six goaltenders in camp.

The Knights made their first cuts last night and pared the roster to less than 30 players. Rookie goaltenders left in camp are Steve Mason, Chris Wall and Craig Schoen.

It's going to take the preseason schedule to figure out who has the inside track.

Wall, 19, played last year with the London Nationals.

Schoen, 18, is a free agent.

Mason is a 17-year-old who backstopped the Grimsby Raiders to the junior C final last year. Because of the combination of age and potential, the Knights would love to see him take charge.

Given the uncertainty in net, the Knights will leave the door open for Dennis.


Videos

Photos