'Hawks want Kane to stay

PATRICK MALONEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- There's no shortage of hockey people who say Patrick Kane is already able for the National Hockey League.

As of last night, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon -- who made the London Knights star the first-overall pick in last night's entry draft -- added his name to that list.

"We're going to do what's best for Patrick Kane," Tallon said while discussing the latest young prospect to join the Chicago franchise.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint. We're very hopeful and I think he has a very good chance" of making the team this fall.

That he could be on NHL ice this October is obviously great news for the likeable Kane, who debuted in the OHL last season and proceeded to tear the league up, notching 62 goals and 145 points in just 65 games.

His quick development, however, could be disappointing news for his fans in the Forest City. He played here for just one season and may not be back.

"They said I have every opportunity," Kane said of his discussions with Blackhawks management. "They're going to give me a chance.

"I'm going to work hard this summer (to) get stronger and try to give myself the best chance I can."

Though undersized at five-foot-10, he was confident about his immediate future in Chicago, a team already boasting a slew of young prospects including former Knight David Bolland.

It appears likely skilled forward Sam Gagner will be back with the Knights next season. He was taken sixth by Edmonton, but it's widely believed at least another OHL season will be beneficial.

Either way, the banner night in Columbus was an unforgettable experience for Mark Hunter and Dale Hunter, the brothers who own and operate the London Knights.

"It's a very proud moment," Dale Hunter said. "Our job is to win and to develop these kids."

The Hunters have proved themselves more than able to do both.

In recent seasons, they've helped develop the likes of Corey Perry and Rob Schremp into first-round picks. Other former players, such as Danny Syvret, Brandon Prust and Dan Girardi, have already seen NHL action.

"At the end of the day it's about these kids going onto the other level," Mark Hunter said. "If they can play in the National Hockey League, that's what it's all about."

But it may be Logan Couture -- a London native who played last season with the Ottawa 67s -- whose selection was among the biggest surprises.

He was ranked 19th among North American players and it's believed the Florida Panthers were set to take him with the No. 10 pick.

San Jose, however, may have had a secret weapon.

Its star player is St. Thomas native Joe Thornton and his brother, John, is Couture's agent. The Sharks traded up to ninth spot to secure Couture.

"I played in St. Thomas as a 15-year-old and (Joe Thornton) did, too," Couture said. "(The draft) has been a lot of fun."

The NHL draft continues today. Akim Aliu, who recently joined the Knights, is slated to go in the second round while Max Campbell of Strathroy is predicted to go in the fourth.

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FIRST-ROUND KNIGHTS

1976 Rick Green (1st, Washington)

Carved out a solid NHL career, playing more than 800 games and winning a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1986

1979 Rob Ramage (1st, Colorado)

A great defenceman who played more than 1,000 games, including a stint as Toronto Maple Leafs captain and won a Cup with Calgary

2002 Rick Nash (1st, Columbus)

Has already won league's goal-scoring title but yet to taste playoff hockey with struggling Blue Jackets.

1987 Brendan Shanahan (2nd, New Jersey)

Has played 1,400 games, won a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold and is now coming off a 29-goal season with no signs of slowing.

1985 Jim Sandlak (4th, Vancouver)

One of the few bright lights to come out of a weak draft, played nearly 600 games with Canucks and Hartford before 1998 retirement.

1998 Rico Fata (6th, Calgary)

Has struggled for consistency at the NHL level, racking up just 200 games over the past decade in Calgary, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New York and Washington.

1970 Darryl Sittler (8th, Toronto)

Hall of Fame career highlighted by NHL's greatest single-game performance, a 10-point explosion against Boston in 1976.

1978 Brad Marsh (11th, Atlanta)

Earned a reputation as a tough, no-nonsense defenceman during a career that spanned more than 1,000 games.

1970 Dan Maloney (14th, Chicago)

Grinding winger registered nearly 500 points and 1,500 penalty minutes over 12-year career with four teams.

1993 Nick Stajduhar (16th, Edmonton)

A first-round bomb, appearing in just two NHL games during a career that ended in the International Hockey League in 2001.

1993 Jason Allison (17th, Washington)

Drafted right behind Stajduhar, Allison's remarkable scoring prowess was dampened by injuries that have limited him to 550 NHL games.

2004 Rob Schremp (25th, Edmonton)

Performed well in just-finished rookie year in the American Hockey League but still waiting for break on NHL stage.

2003 Corey Perry (28th, Anaheim)

Played key role in Ducks Stanley Cup victory and quickly earning a reputation for delivering when the pressure is on.


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