SUN Hockey Pool

Young guns best of buds

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

On Friday they went to dinner, four friends swapping stories and comparing notes on living out a childhood dream.

Then last night, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews faced each other in a battle showcasing the future stars of the NHL.

Gagner and Cogliano with the Edmonton Oilers, and Kane and Toews with the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It's obviously great getting a chance to play against him after playing with him all of last year," Gagner said of facing Kane. "It's exciting."

Last season Gagner, 18, and Kane, 19, were teammates with the OHL's London Knights.

Both had outstanding seasons, with Gagner collecting 118 points in 53 games and Kane amassing 145 points in 58 games.

Both were selected in the first round of last summer's NHL Entry Draft -- Kane went first overall to the Blackhawks and Gagner was taken sixth overall by the Oilers.

"Surprisingly, we didn't talk about playing in the NHL that much last year," Gagner said. "Now that we're both here, we've kept in touch and we've been able to talk about it a lot more. Going into the year last year, neither of us were touted as top-10 picks, but we were able to help each other out.

"We were competitive with each other, but it was a healthy competition and we pushed each other to do better."

Kane entered last night's game as the Hawks leading scorer with seven goals and 15 assists in 21 games. Gagner has two goals and seven assists in 21 contests with the Oilers.

"We were pretty good buddies last year and spent a lot of time together," Kane said. "We went through the draft together and played in the prospects game together.

"I just spent a lot of time with him. He's a good friend and it's going to be fun to play against him."

Cogliano and Toews were also first-round picks by their respective teams.


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