Gagner is drawing plenty of attention

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Sam Gagner has no regrets about playing junior in the U.S. the season after he was drafted by the London Knights.

Nor does he have any regrets about spurning the University of Wisconsin to play for the Knights in 2006-07.

Gagner has taken over the Ontario Hockey League, leading the league in scoring with 31 points in nine games. His 24 assists alone would put him atop the scoring race, as the next highest producer (there are three, including linemate and fellow rookie Patrick Kane) has 22 points.

"I wanted to come in with a clean slate without expectations but I did not want to limit myself either," said the 17-year-old, whose father is Knights assistant coach and former NHLer Dave Gagner. "I wouldn't trade last year (when he skated for Sioux City of the United States Hockey League) for anything, but parts of me wanted to be (in London)."

School is a priority for Gagner. He is working toward a high school diploma, and through a special program, is taking a political science course at the University of Western Ontario.

Why did Gagner, who made a name for himself in minor hockey with the Toronto Marlboros, come back to Canada?

"I missed my family and the Canadian lifestyle," Gagner said. "I can watch hockey 24/7 again and be on the ice every day. And for sure, this season has gone better than I was expecting."

This is Gagner's draft year. In helping the Knights win eight of their first nine games, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound centre has thrust himself into NHL scouts' notebooks.

"Out of all the prospects in the OHL for 2007, he is the guy who has caught everyone's attention,"an NHL scout said.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

The St. Michael's Majors will not be moving to the Ricoh Coliseum, as one rumour suggests. "We've looked at junior hockey and have absolutely no interest," Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. president Richard Peddie said. "At one point we did, but that door is closed. We've got our hands full with the Marlies (of the American Hockey League)" ... Another draft prospect, Logan Couture of the Ottawa 67's, has been diagnosed with mononucleosis and could miss a month. But it should not adversely affect his draft status. "If anything, it might be good because it explains why he was off to a sluggish start,"an NHL scout said ... The OHL portion of the annual Canada/Russia series will be played Nov. 23 in Sarnia and Nov. 27 in Oshawa.


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