The London Knights’ dominant 2019-20 season has certainly paid off for a few NHL hopefuls.
Among an impressive number of Knights products playing in both Toronto and Edmonton this summer are the trio of Liam Foudy, Connor McMichael and Alec Regula, who have joined their respective NHL clubs in the bubble as they try to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
Coming off a second straight 68-point season that included an 18-game point streak, Foudy was a likely candidate to crack the Columbus Blue Jackets’ roster as they prepared to face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the best-of-five Qualifier.
The 20-year-old was able to get his feet wet on NHL ice back in February when he was called up on an emergency basis for what would be a two-game stint over which he registered an assist in a 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Heading into the summer’s Return to Play camp, Columbus head coach John Tortorella liked what he had seen out of Foudy, complimenting his understanding of the game and hoping to see more of his speed. As it would turn out, hard work would pay off, and the forward would earn a spot on the third line.
“Before, I was just playing with London and got called up didn’t really know any of the systems or what to do,” Foudy told the Columbus Dispatch. “Now, I’ve been here since the start of June. It’s helped me a lot getting to know the systems and everything, and in that sense, I think I’ll be a lot more prepared for this series.”
His accomplishment came as no surprise to Knights GM Mark Hunter. “I think the world juniors made him feel really good about himself,” Hunter told Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press earlier this week. “He realized ‘I’m an elite player’ and realizing that is important. It’s nice recognition and you feel good and confident that you can do it against the best.”
Foudy recorded an assist on Boone Jenner’s opening goal in the squad’s 4-1 exhibition win over the Boston Bruins.
Also competing in the Qualifiers are the Chicago Blackhawks, who have Regula on hand. Regula led all OHL defencemen in goals with 27 as part of a 60-point production over a 56-game 2019-20 campaign. His skillset and coachability were recently praised by Blackhawks Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development Mark Eaton.
“He has really good hands, good vision, good passing ability that at the NHL level will allow him to read forechecks and make a good first pass,” Eaton told NHL.com’s Carter Baum. “Ultimately, with his size, his skating ability, his reach, going forward in the NHL I can see him being a guy that plays against other teams’ top lines every night and becomes a hard guy to play against from the defensive aspect of the game.”
As the Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals battle the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Seeding Round Robin, they’ll have centreman McMichael in tow, fresh off a 102 point (47-55—102) performance over 52 appearances and ready for a spot in the lineup should the opportunity arise.
“I’m going to do everything to prove to the coaches that I can play in the lineup. If not, I’ll always be ready in case someone gets hurt or other things happen. I’m just really excited to be here, and it should be really fun,” McMichael told the Washington Post in mid-July.
Throughout the month of August, ontariohockeyleague.com will shine a summer spotlight on storylines from all 20 OHL clubs. See more from the OHL Summer Spotlight series.