Tavares talks continue

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Rick Nash played for London and was picked first overall by Columbus in the 2002 NHL draft.

Pat Kane was a Knight and the Chicago Blackhawks made him the No. 1 guy five years later.

The Hunter brothers and their OHL franchise have a rich recent history of housing the most coveted player in junior hockey.

"(With stars like that), you just open the door," London head coach Dale Hunter said.

But it remains to be seen if Knights general manager Mark Hunter can finish off the first-pick hat trick and pry star forward John Tavares -- whose top prospect status was heightened this past week by his world junior MVP play -- from the Oshawa Generals, who are still looking at their options.

Clearly, there isn't a done deal yet. With the league's trade deadline at noon tomorrow, this one going down to the wire.

Tavares dressed, played and scored for the Gens in Belleville last night, where he tangled with his gold-medal buddy P.K. Subban of the Bulls.

The Generals' next game, remarkably, is tomorrow night at the John Labatt Centre.

"Nothing," Mark Hunter said yesterday. "I talked (to general manager Chris DePiero). We're still talking."

Even the London youngsters mentioned by various media outlets as heading to Oshawa in a Tavares trade played last night in Erie where the Knights beat the Otters 6-3.

Mark Hunter remained in London to take and make calls rather than serve in the assistant coach role he has filled many times this season on the Knights bench.

Mark Hunter wouldn't comment on a report that Tavares told the Gens he would only approve a trade to London and wouldn't declare the Knights the frontrunner to acquire Tavares after Windsor made the biggest splash of the day.

Spits general manager Warren Rychel got himself a lot of Memorial Cup experience by acquiring goalie Josh Unice, over-age defenceman and captain Ben Shutron and top-scoring forward Scott Timmins from Kitchener.

The price?

Promising goalie Brandon Maxwell, who will play out the season with the United States under-18 team, over-age forward Jacob Lalonde and three draft picks -- second-rounders in 2010 and '11 and a third-rounder in 2009.

"You don't make moves (in response to other teams' dealings)," Mark Hunter said. "I'm just going to do what I feel will be best for our team."

The only Knights missing in Erie were injured captain Scott Aarssen, forward Phil Varone, not yet ready to return from a knee injury, and winger Dominic DeSando (shoulder), who is back skating but isn't expected in the lineup until February or March.

The Knights are unlikely to bring in another goaltender. They were finished tweaking the position when they brought in Trevor Cann from Peterborough on Nov. 6 to replace over-ager Jason Guy.

"Trevor Cann is the man," Hunter said. "We like the way (Michael) Zador has improved. He's 6-1 and he's going to get the chance in the second half to play in some more games."

In other deals, the Niagara IceDogs acquired goalie Jeremy Smith and forward Patrick Lee from Plymouth for three draft picks, then sent 19-year-old forward Andrew Merrett to Brampton for a fifth-round pick in 2011. The 'Dogs also dealt defenceman Josh Day and a 2009 seventh-round selection to the Battalion for winger Mike Hasson and a third-rounder this spring.

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GAME GLANCE

Knights 6, Otters 3

London scorers: Daniel Erlich, with two, Jared Knight, Vladimir Roth, Justin Taylor and Kazem Kadri; forward Zac Rinaldo, acquired from Mississauga for Kale Kerbashian on Tuesday, made his London debut and picked up two assists.

Erie scorers: Justin Hodgman, St. Thomas native Greg McKegg, Tyler Hostetter


Photos