Knights nursing rookies

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

London Knights coach Dale Hunter sounds like a patient man these preseason days.

He needs to be with so many raw rookies in camp and so many spots to fill. He wants to get a good look at all of them.

"They're going to get lots of ice time before the guys come back from (NHL) camps," Hunter said. "It's good for the kids to get into every game situation and the coaches can see them. It's fair that way."

Game conditions come again tomorrow when the Knights go to Windsor for an exhibition match against the Spitfires. The Spits come to the JLC for a return tilt Friday night.

With some of the Knights leaving for NHL camps on the weekend, Hunter plans on using them Friday to get a game under their belts before they head off, he said.

With the top players leaving or having left for camps, the newcomers will get more shifts.

"They'll want to be around when they come back from the camps," Hunter said. "But they'll want to do better than stick around for just a couple of shifts a game."

Much of the emphasis will be on choosing new defencemen with Frank Rediker, who was hurt most of last season, Steven Ferry and Ryan Martinelli the returnees.

"They (the rookies) look good but it will take time. The D has stuff to learn in this league. We have to take time to teach them," Hunter said.

When the rookies arrived at camp, they didn't know the Knights' systems. "Now they know and we can look at them," Hunter said.

Some players are bound to catch the coach's eye when about 60 arrive at camp. The Knights are down to less than 30 now with the recent signing of forward Matt Clarke.

Clarke, 17, played junior B with the Strathroy Rockets last year and before that was a London Junior Knights elite minor system player and a strong player with St. Thomas Aquinas high school.

He was an undrafted walk-on with the Knights.

"He's a good skater and that's what we're looking for now with the new rules," Hunter said. "There's going to be no more hooking. We need good skaters without the hooking."

Still with the Knights is import draft pick Karel Kubat, a forward from the Czech Republic.

"He's young (17) but he looks good. He's smart with the puck. In this league, you need to be big and strong. He's six-foot-two and 155 pounds."

London's other import pick -- Sergei Kostistyn of Belarus -- is at the Montreal Canadiens preseason camp.

KNIGHTS AWAY

At NHL camps

- Forward David Bolland, Chicago Blackhawks

- Forward Trevor Kell, Chicago Blackhawks

- Defenceman Ryan Martinelli, Atlanta Thrashers

- Forward Drew Larman, Florida Panthers

- Forward Sergei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens

- Forward Rob Schremp, Edmonton Oilers

- Defenceman Danny Syvret, Edmonton Oilers

- Forward Danny Fritsche, Columbus Blue Jackets

- Defenceman Marc Methot, Columbus Blue Jackets

- Forward Corey Perry, Anaheim Mighty Ducks

- Goalie Gerald Coleman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Departing soon

- Defenceman Frank Rediker, Boston Bruins (today)

- Goalie Adam Dennis, Buffalo Sabres (Sunday)

- Forward Dylan Hunter, Buffalo Sabres (Sunday)


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