Top pick checking out London

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Scott Harrington is looking at London.

The 16-year-old star defenceman from Kingston will visit the Knights tomorrow and is expected to take part in the club's mini-camp and open house this weekend.

Harrington was ranked No. 2 overall in this month's OHL draft, but fell to London at the 19th pick over fears he would opt to play United States college hockey.

"He's coming -- the kids are a little more adventurous these days in looking at all their options," London general manager Mark Hunter said. "We'll show him and his family around. This is our No. 1 priority right now. I'm usually not so brave to say this, but he has the potential to be a top-four defenceman in this league right away."

The Knights don't have Harrington's name on a contract yet. But it also took patience to sign Pat Kane and Sam Gagner three years ago.

Harrington's adviser, Darren Ferris of the Orr Hockey Group, isn't too worried.

"It looks good," he said. "London's obviously a great city. It has a great university there. The team is a good situation There are a lot of positives. But Scott has been recruited by the U.S. colleges for a long time and he had pretty much resolved to go there. He and his parents (Pat and Cindy) have to check out the academic opportunities and if London offers the kind of package everyone's expecting, it should be fine."

The Orr group represents Memorial Cup-winning Windsor Spitfires Taylor Hall and Ryan Ellis. Knights defenceman John Carlson, set to play in the American Hockey League Calder Cup final with the Hershey Bears, is also a client.

"When the time's right, we might get John to talk to Scott about his experience in London," Ferris said. "Getting him at No. 19 was a steal for the Knights. He was a game MVP (for the Kingston Kimco Voyageurs at the recent RBC Cup Junior A championships in British Columbia). He was called up and was a top-four defenceman for them the whole time. He's a good player. A leader. He's going to be a captain in London some day (if he reports)."

The Knights have a busy schedule for their prospects. There is fitness testing Saturday morning followed by an information session for parents at lunch.

The prospective Knights, including former Elgin-Middlesex Chief and second-rounder Jake Worrad, will hit the ice from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Western Fair and again Sunday morning from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The public is invited to attend both sessions as well as Saturday's open house at the John Labatt Centre.

Autographs will run from 3-4 p.m. followed by introductions of draft picks and players. The team's award ceremony will follow.

The Knights aren't sure yet if forwards John Tavares and Nazem Kadri will attend the awards. It all depends on when the players tabbed to become NHL first-rounders next month in Montreal finish at the draft combine this week in Toronto.

Mark Hunter said it's too early to tell if the Knights will be contenders next season. The defence will be extremely inexperienced.

"We have pretty good forwards," he said. "John Carlson, we believe, will be gone so we have to wait and see what we end up losing. You never know. You look at Windsor and all the good players they have and they had to fight from 0-2 at the Memorial Cup to come back and win it. They were a resilient group and it was a great accomplishment what they did."

Hunter called Windsor GM Warren Rychel to offer his congratulations.

The Spitfires have already added former United States national development defender Cam Fowler to their lineup for next season.

Teams may have been scared off by Harrington, but some OHL clubs are opting to draft more players from the U.S. junior leagues. Hunter used to mine those circuits for players like free-agent signee David Meckler, a Los Angeles Kings draft pick.

"It's getting tougher," he said.


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