Knights gamble on Korinek

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

The London Knights are hoping they got lucky with Jakub Korinek.

Korinek is the last-minute addition to the Knights, right on the trade deadline.

He's a Czech defenceman the Sudbury Wolves couldn't keep because they had their complement of two European players.

Korinek was placed on irrevocable waivers by the Wolves and the Knights were first to act.

"Anyone can claim him. It's first come, first served," said Knights assistant general manager Jim McKellar. It didn't cost the Knights anything to claim him.

That might seem like Korinek isn't a player of value, but that's not necessarily the case. The Wolves had made a trade that brought them goaltender Sebastian Dahm from the Sarnia Sting. They already had scoring winger Patrik Lusnak on the roster. With most teams already having roster spots set for Europeans, trading Korinek was more difficult.

The Knights had traded one of the their European players, Adam Hasani, earlier in January, clearing a spot for just the kind of situation that arose with Korinek.

"I didn't know what was going to fall our way at the end of the day," Knights general manager Mark Hunter said. "At the end of the day we got something we needed. He's a defenceman with good puck skills."

The Knights traded for Trevor Solomon at the deadline, moving Corey Syvret to the Guelph Storm. Solomon has played two games with the Knights.

"(Yesterday) is really Korinek's first practice with the entire team," said Knights assistant coach Dave Gagner. "He's skated, but with only three or four other players on the ice."

There's a certain amount of mystery to Korinek. The Knights don't see the Wolves very often, so their players aren't as well-known as players from other teams. But there was some surprise around the league that the Knights were able to grab Korinek.

He's six-foot-two and about 190 pounds.

"I was third or fourth defenceman with Sudbury," Korinek said. "I play a lot. The coach just had other players and there was no room."

Korinek, 18, describes himself as a "defenceman who is good with the offence."

If Korinek turns out to be a keeper, it will help a team that was looking for some help on the blue-line.

If Solomon and Korinek can handle a regular shift, it will allow the Knights to move Rob Drummond back to a forward line.

The Knights main core of blue-liners for the second-half run will include Scott Aarssen, Todd Perry, Kevin Montgomery and Ryan Martinelli. The would love to give 16-year-olds such as Kevin Bodker and Tony DeHart as much work as possible, but they don't want to have to use them on a continuing basis.

That's why having Korinek step in and take a regular shift, if possible, would ease some pressure on rushing these young players along.

The Knights are also getting a better picture of Montgomery. The former Ohio State Buckeye had a rough start to his career as a Knight, having to adjust to a new city and a new league. But he's gotten stronger over the last few games, making better decisions and looking more confident defensively. In the Knights' 5-1 win over Windsor on Sunday, he was selected the game's first star.

Montgomery will continue to improve the more ice time he gets. If Korinek can play, it would be a real bonus.

"I don't mind taking a chance on this kid," Hunter said. "We'll give him a chance and we'll see what he can do."

Korinek and Solomon will play sometime this weekend. The Knights play the Belleville Bulls at the John Labatt Centre on Friday. They go to Sault Ste. Marie for a Saturday game before going on to Sudbury to play the Wolves on Sunday afternoon.


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