Pearson has come a long way, baby

DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:36 PM ET

TORONTO - Three years ago, Tanner Pearson was barely an afterthought in the OHL draft.

Taken in the 14th round, 267th overall, by the Barrie Colts in 2008, nobody would have given it a second thought if the Kitchener native had never gotten more than a sniff in the OHL.

But 14 games into the 2011-12 season, Pearson is one point out of the league scoring lead -- with 12 goals and 21 assists in 14 games, his point-per-game average is higher than that of Sarnia Sting whiz kid Nail Yakupov -- and has already landed a spot on the OHL team that will play the Russians in the Subway Super Series. And it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he will earn an invitation to the Canadian junior team's selection camp in December.

Not bad for a kid who used to hold down a part-time gig as the Kitchener Rangers water boy, is it?

"If someone had told me I'd be second in points two months in, I probably wouldn't have believed it," Pearson admitted. "I can't give enough credit to my linemates (Mark Scheifele and Colin Behenna). I'm having a pretty good year, showing that late development is possible. I would just say I never gave up."

Before Scheifele, the seventh overall pick in last summer's NHL draft, was sent back to the Colts by the Winnipeg Jets just over a week ago, Pearson was playing with Behenna and Zach Hall on the league's most productive line. The trio still sit two-three-four in the OHL scoring race, with a combined 92 points.

Pearson, now 19 and possibly in his last season of junior, has gone from OHL draft fodder -- it's rare for a player taken so late to even make the team -- to one of the league's premier forwards. He showed some offensive flair last season as an 18-year-old rookie, racking up 15 goals and 27 assists but, let's be realistic, nobody outside the Pearson family would have predicted he'd be leading the resurgent Colts in scoring this year.

It's been a long and winding road to the OHL for Pearson, though. He broke his arm in his OHL draft season, which could account for being taken so late.

Then, as a 16-year-old he played junior B in Waterloo, where Colts' scout Peter Brill served as GM. He failed to make a stacked Colts team for the 2009-10 season and went back to Waterloo for a second season, where he had 29 goals and 41 assists in 51 games.

With the Colts rebuilding last season, Pearson stuck and, as they say, the rest is history.

Now, incredibly, Pearson has his sights set on joining Scheifele at the junior camp. He will play both games of the Subway series, which Hockey Canada's uses to evaluate talent, later this month.

"I think it's a real possibility," Pearson said. "I try not to think about it too much but it's in the back of my head."

Given how far the kid has come already, don't bet against him.

TRENDING?

You've got to wonder if the Oshawa Generals' propensity for violence is a blip on the radar or a trend.

The Generals have already been hit with four major suspensions -- the grand total is 42 games, in fact -- and are bracing for the possibility of another after defenceman Colin Suellentrop was give a major penalty (not a match, as the online game sheet indicates) during a loss to Owen Sound on Saturday. Suellentrop, who played Sunday against Mississauga, could join star forward Christian Thomas (10 games for a high-sticking incident Oct. 23) on the sidelines if the league decides on further punishment.

Sure, the league is cracking down on head shots and has been issuing stiffer suspensions this season so that might at least partly explain it. But nasty incidents are nasty incidents, crackdown or not.

The season's barely a month old and four players from the same team have been banned for 10 games or more. A fifth General could be suspended this week. Doesn't sound like bad luck to me.

I imagine the league has taken notice of what's been happening in the 'Shwa. And, we hope, somebody's had some splainin' to do.

STING STOCKS UP

The Sarnia Sting and Ottawa 67's added some veteran talent Monday while the Erie Otters started what might be the junior equivalent of the salary dump.

The Sting picked up overage forward Brett Thompson, a 44-goal scorer last year, from the rebuilding Otters for a third-round pick in 2012 and a second-rounder in '13 then acquired 18-year-old defenceman Craig Duininck from the Windsor Spitfires for a trio of picks. Sarnia then shipped overage defenceman Daniel Broussard to the 67's for a third-round pick in 2012.

"After trading Broussard to Ottawa in order to make room for Thompson we had a hole on our blue-line that we needed to fill," Sting head coach and GM Jacques Beaulieu said. "Craig is a big, strong defenceman who takes care of his own end and can chip in offensively too. Playing in his third season with Windsor he certainly gained a lot of valuable experience and will be an asset for us moving forward."

Thompson was expendable in Erie while the West Division-leading Sting needed to upgrade at forward after hightly touted NHL prospect Alex Galchenyuk had season-ending knee surgery.


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