A London-based sports agent feels it should be a no-brainer Knights forward Pat Kane will be the first overall pick in Friday's NHL entry draft in Columbus.
Bryan Deasley, whose Siskinds Sports Management firm handles Oshawa Generals star John Tavares and is in the running to represent Kane, thinks the draft lottery-winning Chicago Blackhawks will clear up all confusion surrounding a consensus No. 1 choice and call out the name of the 18-year-old Buffalo native, who starred in the Forest City this season.
"Chicago needs scoring and it's going to be hard for them to pass up the opportunity to take a wholesome American kid who has top-notch offensive skills," Deasley said this week. "They have a younger team and will be strongly advised to take Pat Kane with that pick. He comes from a great family and he played with a good organization -- (London GM) Mark Hunter did a great job. Teams do look at OHL hockey versus U.S. college and who can help them right away and they know Pat Kane wants to play in the NHL next year."
Chicago GM Dale Tallon hasn't indicated who will make history as the Blackhawks pick first for the first time as a franchise. But with the second-lowest scoring total in the NHL last year, he has zeroed in on the ability to put the puck in the net.
Kane was the Canadian Hockey League's point king this season and scored 62 times. He led the league in playoff scoring and Chicago assistant GM Rick Dudley witnessed most of those games.
Chicago, which has received few inquiries to trade the pick so far, isn't worried about the five-foot-nine, 160-pound Kane's size. Their head coach is former offensive wizard Denis Savard, who didn't pack a lot of bulk while he wowed the crowd with his stick tricks.
"The size of his (Kane's) heart is more important than the size of his body," Tallon said last week. "Obviously, we'd prefer that he'd be six-foot-two and weigh 210. He's not. But he plays big."
Mark Hunter, whose team's reputation for churning out quality pro players jumped with Corey Perry's Stanley Cup contributions for Anaheim this year, said he hasn't seen enough of the other top prospects, but if he owned the pick, he'd take Kane.
"Teams are always looking for different things, but to me, it's his mind and his skill that are going to make him a star in that league. He sees things on the ice other players don't," Hunter said. "He's driven to become the best player he can and his potential is huge. Everyone has to remember that 18-year-old kids aren't fully developed players. He's going to get bigger and stronger and he's going to be able to dominate down the road."
Deasley, meanwhile, will command a lot of attention this week because of recent talk that the 16-year-old Tavares could be made eligible for the 2008 draft instead of waiting until 2009.
"John was born on Sept. 20 and the eligibility cut off is Sept. 15 so he misses it by five days," Deasley said. "It has nothing to do with labour law. It's just an old rule that was in the last collective bargaining agreement and carried on into the new one. The rule can be changed and if you change it to birth year instead of a date, then he's eligible.
"Right now, we feel anything is possible and we're investigating it."
Deasley said he has turned down some commercial opportunities for Tavares and that it was too soon to launch a Sidney Crosby-like arrival on the big-league hockey scene.
"We could've done some endorsements as soon as he was made eligible for the OHL draft," he said, "but the biggest thing is, he gets a chance to be a kid. That stuff will be there for John. It's why I wasn't at the NHL awards up in front with John in my black tie and tuxedo announcing that he was for sale."