Haute Couture

London's Logan Couture was recently signed by the San Jose Sharks after being taken in the first...

London's Logan Couture was recently signed by the San Jose Sharks after being taken in the first round of the NHL draft. (Sun Media/Craig Glover)

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

He's an NHL first-rounder and a signed and sealed member of the San Jose Sharks organization.

His agent is John Thornton. As a first-year junior player a while back, he helped propel the St. Thomas Stars to a spot in the Western Ontario Hockey League final.

Sounds a lot like the Joe Thornton story? Logan Couture knows it does.

"It kind of looks like I'm following Joe around," the 18-year-old Londoner said. "He plays in San Jose. His brother represents me and I played in St. Thomas. The only thing I didn't do is play in the OHL for the Soo."

Instead, Couture played big minutes the past two years for the Ottawa 67's and barring a training camp that bowls over the Sharks, he'll be back in the Canadian capital again this year.

"I'm going to San Jose (this fall) and do what I can to make the team," Couture said, "and if I don't, I expect to go back to Ottawa and work hard and improve. I want to win -- it could be my last year there and we should have one of the better teams (in the Eastern Conference) because a lot of our young guys will be back."

At last month's NHL draft in Columbus, San Jose engineered the most dramatic moment of the first round by trading up to the ninth spot to butt in line ahead of Florida and grab Couture.

"I skated for Florida at the teen ranch in Orangeville and I met Jacques Martin so I had an idea that they (the Panthers) had an interest in me (at the No. 10 spot)," the six-foot, 195-pounder said. "Then, when San Jose traded up, I thought something might be going on. (Sharks GM) Doug Wilson is a respected hockey man and I know he has a soft spot for Ottawa because that's where he's from and he's a former 67 (who has also drafted Couture's linemate Jamie McGinn, Derek Joslin and Lukas Kaspar)."

The jump in draft status and resulting three-year contract with the Sharks was a nice perk for a player who doesn't have to be told the hockey business is a fickle one. In a normal year, Couture's selection would've registered as big news in his hometown -- except Knights stars Pat Kane and Sam Gagner were the first and sixth players picked in the same draft.

But Couture has skated on that rink before. In 2005, he was told by Oshawa he would be the first pick in the OHL draft but it didn't happen when 14-year-old John Tavares was granted "exceptional" player status.

More recently, Couture is one of the few highly touted skaters to be left off the roster for the eight-game Canada-Russia Super Series being held Aug. 27 to Sept. 9.

Londoner Drew Doughty and St. Thomas native Cory Emmerton are on the Canadian squad along with Knights goalie Steve Mason and Gagner.

"It was disappointing, but I've been in the (national development program) before so the important thing is to play well and earn a tryout for the world junior team," Couture said. "I'll use it as motivation."

He feels vindicated that knee injuries and illness (he missed an early chunk of the OHL season with mono) are behind him -- the major question mark dogging him heading into the draft.

"I was in San Jose for a development camp (earlier this month) and we went hard for 11 hours every day," he said. "We never really got outside to see anything. It was all business."

Couture feels he will be physically ready for a long season because of his work with personal trainer Jeff Van Damme of London. The natural athletic talent is already there and former St. Thomas Stars coach Dan Rose saw it up close three years ago.

"(Soo Greyhounds GM) Dave Torrie, when he was running Chatham, told me to teach that boy to play defence and get out of the way," said Rose, now the bench boss of a strong Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs minor midget squad. "Without getting all spiritual, I believe people were put on the earth for a reason. Logan was making plays at 15 that his teammates would come back to the bench and say, 'Did you see that?'

"He is from an athletic family, a hockey family who know how the game works. It's like the Gagners and the Hunters are the same way. They know what it takes to get to the top and it's ingrained in the younger generation."

Rose gave Couture regular ice time and, occasionally, had him out there for faceoffs with under a minute left in close games.

"He's good in all three zones -- he's a hockey player," Rose said.

Right now, Joe Thornton logs the bulk of the ice time in San Jose. With Couture coming, he might want to savour it while he can.


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