Knights GM ponders trade for Tavares

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

The London Knights have plenty of 20- and 30-goal scorers on their roster. But they're missing a true sniper. A 50-goal guy. A player capable of leading the OHL in points.

Oshawa's John Tavares would change that.

The Knights also have one of the better power plays in the league, but not yet great.

Tavares, the Generals captain, would make it hum.

London GM Mark Hunter took a call from Oshawa GM Chris DePiero on Wednesday and Tavares was discussed.

"He (DePiero) called to gauge our interest level and he's looking to see how many teams are out there right now," Hunter said. "I think there are going to be a lot of teams. This is going to take some time. He (Tavares) is a dynamic player. I haven't gone to watch him play this year because you don't have to do that. He's proven himself in this league. You know what he can do for any team."

The Generals say they aren't shopping their star forward yet; it's more like pre-emptive marketing.

They know front-running Windsor is interested and Guelph feels the cost is likely too high.

And the Knights? Hunter wants to wait to see a Tavares price tag.

The skate was on the other foot last year when London traded the best player in the league -- goalie Steve Mason -- to Memorial Cup host Kitchener during the world junior hockey championships.

"Now the ball's in Oshawa's court," Hunter said. "Last year, I had to call around looking for deals. I want to see what the market is going to be first. When you add, you have to think about what you're deleting, too.

"And just because he's (DePiero) talking to teams doesn't mean he's going to trade him. If I didn't get what I wanted last year for Mason, I would've held onto him, then taken our chances in the playoffs and tried to win a couple of rounds with him."

The Knights and Gens have already done a deal this season. London sent defenceman Tony DeHart to Oshawa to reduce a surplus on the Knights' back end.

Clearly, London won't give up forwards Nazem Kadri and Phil Varone -- two-thirds of the spoils from the Mason trade -- for Tavares. That's too high a price to pay.

But the Knights have made deals that netted extra draft picks and they also have some young, top-end talent under control who still haven't decided between the OHL and U.S. college hockey.

The Knights believe they will be contenders this year and again next season. But the two wrenches in the plan could be Kadri, likely a top 10 NHL pick next summer, and standout defenceman John Carlson, who signed an entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals last week,

"Who knows what's going to happen with them," Hunter said. "You don't know what Washington will do and it all depends on what team picks (Kadri). But I see us having a good team again next year."

Tavares, who played for the OHL team in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge game last night in Guelph, could put London over the top. But many of the Knights players, winners of six straight, feel they're on their way already.

"I really like the team we have in the room right now," Varone said. "I truly believe we have enough here to beat Windsor."


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