Hunter adds blue-line depth

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

The Owen Sound Attack took defenceman Michael D'Orazio with the eighth selection in the 2006 OHL draft.

Six picks behind Oshawa's Michael Del Zotto.

Ten spots ahead of Nazem Kadri, who became a Kitchener Ranger that spring.

A dozen before the London Knights grabbed Phil McRae.

Now the foursome of first-rounders is poised to become London teammates after the Knights acquired D'Orazio and an eighth-round pick in 2010 yesterday for forward Jason Wilson and a seventh-rounder in 2011.

The teams also swapped conditional fourth rounders in 2012, activated if D'Orazio and Wilson play over-age seasons next year.

"Did I want to lose Jason Wilson? No," Knights GM Mark Hunter said. "He did what he had to do to become a player. He did a great job. But we have a surplus of forwards. We needed defencemen here."

And D'Orazio wanted out of Owen Sound.

The 19-year-old didn't attend Attack training camp. In his three seasons, the Attack won zero playoff games: They were swept by London in 2007, missed the postseason in 2008 and ran into Windsor last season.

D'Orazio indicated to GM Dale DeGray he would waive his no-trade clause for a deal to one of three league superpowers -- London, Windsor or Barrie.

"We were working at this for a while," Hunter said. "Michael is a defensive defenceman who can add a little offence, too. With Scott Harrington hurt (broken wrist) and Del Zotto gone (at New York Rangers camp), we needed someone who can play 20-25 minutes.

"He can bang in the corners. He's like a Dan Girardi (the strapping 2005 Memorial Cup defenceman who now skates at Madison Square Garden)."

D'Orazio scored four goals in three years on the Bayshore. Wilson had 12 goals for the Knights last season.

The trade doesn't necessarily mean immediate help for the Knights, who open the OHL season tomorrow night at home against defending Memorial Cup champ Windsor.

The six-foot-two, 211-pound D'Orazio is still in camp with the San Jose Sharks on an invitation. He was injured in a recent rookie game, "but it was just a pull," Hunter said. "I talked to him and he's fine."

Kadri remains with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who visit the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at the John Labatt Centre.

McRae, a St. Louis second rounder, isn't back from the Blues.

Even Wilson, invited by Boston to rookie camp this year, hasn't been re-assigned yet. He's been strong in the corners and down the wing for the Bruins.

"Now, there's talk the Bruins might sign him," Hunter said. "He's had a great camp there. You don't want to lose a guy like that but to get someone, you have to give up something, too. You have to trade players other teams want."

And that was Wilson, an eighth-round pick back in 2006.

The Knights aren't done trying to bolster their blue-line.

Hunter has been trying to work out a deal with Russian import selection Anton Klementyev, an Islanders draft pick still at NHL camp. Big Swede Kalle Ekelund suffered a concussion during the OHL preseason but should be available for the opener.

The team hasn't decided on a captain yet or if it will assign the "C" before the first game or wait until more veterans return from NHL camps.

"You don't want to do that too quickly," Mark Hunter said.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

OPENING NIGHT

Knights vs. Spitfires

When: Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre. Rematch of five-overtime OHL Western Conference final.

Tickets: Standing room still available. Call (519) 681-0800 or visit Knights box office at JLC.

Threads: The Knights will wear their redesigned beige Reebok EDGE home jerseys.


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