When the London Knights made their four big deadline deals, little was mentioned about the fact that they had moved their entire leadership group. Their captain – Robert Thomas – was gone. Cliff Pu, Sam Miletic and Max Jones all served as alternates and – they too – were shipped out of town. Suddenly, the Knights were left with Evan Bouchard as their only remaining letter in the lineup.
On Thursday, the Knights changed that naming a new captain for the remainder of the season as well as three new alternates as the team looks to do battle without their previous leadership group.
Bouchard’s C of Green
The third-year Knight was the only remaining piece of the team’s previous leadership group when the deadline was all said and done. Fittingly, the team decided to hand the 18-year-old defenceman the keys to team as they named him the team’s newest captain with 28 games left in the 2017-18 season.
Bouchard is the team leader in goals (15), assists (34) and points (49) and is a top prospect for the upcoming NHL Draft. He’s reached career highs in each of the afore mentioned offensive categories and sits tied for 100th on the franchise’s all-time list in assists.
“Evan has been a tremendous leader for this team, not just this year, but since he started with the franchise,” said the teams general manager, Rob Simpson, in a press release. “With Evan’s experience around the team, and in the city as a well, he will be a fantastic representative for our organization. We are excited to see him lead this team and excel in this role.”
We have announced our new leadership group for the rest of the season.
— London Knights (@LondonKnights) January 11, 2018
Bouchard first joined the team in 2015-16 after the Knights drafted him 17th overall in the 2015 OHL draft. Since then, the defenceman has collected 28 goals and 110 points in 151 regular season games with the club to go along with nine points in 24 postseason games.
On top of that, Bouchard was with the team for their 2015-16 OHL championship – which certainly provides an extra bit of leadership experience for the young blueliner.
As for the newest members of the team’s leadership group, it was also announced that Tyler Rollo, Alex Formenton and Shane Collins would don As for the remainder of the season.
Rollo, an overage forward, is in his first season with the Knights after coming over in a trade earlier in the season from the Peterborough Petes. The 20-year-old had five points in three games when the Knights acquired him and has since added 15 in 31 games with the Knights.
He carries 93 games of OHL experience and provides the team with a veteran voice in the room.
Formenton is coming off a gold medal at the World Junior Championship with Team Canada where he had four points in seven games – including an empty netter in the gold medal game against Sweden.
He made the Ottawa Senators out of camp this year and even saw one game of NHL action before being sent back to the Knights. In his second season with the club, he has nine goals and 21 points in 20 games.
The 18-year-old is fresh off signing his three-year entry-level contract with the Senators in the offseason – the team that drafted him 47th overall in 2017. His stint at camp this season has given him the opportunity to provide insight to his teammates as he takes on a bigger leadership role with the club.
Finally, Collins will also wear an A for the Knights as he plays in his first season with the Knights. The overage defenceman was acquired from the Barrie Colts after they claimed him from the Prince George Cougars of the WHL.
Collins has nine points in 33 games with the Knights, but provides a veteran presence on a blue line littered with younger players. The 20-year-old brings playoff experience with him from the west coast and gives the Knights some extra experience moving forward this season.
While it will certainly be a change for the Knights, it seems they have a good leadership group in place as they face the retooling of their roster and the rebuild that undoubtedly lies ahead.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.