First draft choice 'gamble'

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

In body, Scott Harrington is a long way from London.

The Knights' first-round draft pick is with the Kingston Kimco Voyageurs at the RBC Cup in Victoria, B.C. He and the Vees played their first game at the Canadian Junior A Tier II hockey championships late last night against the host Victoria Grizzlies.

But in spirit, the ace defenceman sounds like he's getting a lot closer to the John Labatt Centre. He had scared away a lot of OHL general managers by talking up the U.S. college hockey route.

"It's an honour to go to such a great organization. (London) is always a contender," Harrington told the Kingston Whig-Standard. "It's just a real honour. I'm going to talk it over with my family and weigh out the options."

Harrington popped up at 6 a.m. Pacific time Saturday to follow the OHL cyber-draft. He was once bandied about as a potential first overall pick, but fell to 19th.

Some will call Harrington falling into London's lap as a cooked deal. The OHL has a $250,000 fine in place for such tampering.

London GM Mark Hunter called it a gamble.

Usually, OHL clubs speak to their top draft picks immediately after they call their name. Three hours into the draft, Hunter hadn't spoken to Harrington or his family.

"Sometimes, you roll the dice," he said. "He's one of the top couple of players in the draft. We'll try to talk to him and see what happens."

Five other blueliners were picked before the Knights called his first shot.

The Kitchener Rangers took York Simcoe's Ryan Murphy at No. 3. Sudbury scooped big Notre Dame Hound Justin Sefton in the five hole.

Harrington could turn out better than both of them.

"Him, Sefton, and Murphy, there's not much between them," Hunter said. "They're all very good players. (Harrington) is a two-way player."

The 16-year-old is an affiliated player for the Voyageurs but already one of the club's best defenders. He helped Kingston win the Dudley Hewitt Cup in Schreiber last week.

In minor midget this season, the workhorse routinely logged 35 minutes of ice time in 45-minute games. He had 19 goals and 67 points in 66 games.

Harrington's Greater Kingston squad sported Boston Bruins-like colours. He wore No. 4. His hockey adviser is Darren Ferris of the Bobby Orr Hockey Group.

Now London's courting process begins.

"(OHL recruiting co-ordinator) Joe Birch and I will take a ride down soon and try to sell him on playing in the league," Mark Hunter said.

Two years ago, Pat Kane and Sam Gagner were earmarked for college, before Hunter sold them on his program.


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