Isaiah George is not the type of person who lets things get to him.
As a 17-year-old defenseman for the London Knights who entered the 2021–22 season after a year without playing much hockey, George was immediately placed in the Knights’ top four. He didn’t miss a beat.
When injuries pushed him into the top pair, George met the challenge head-on and looked great.
So, with the National Hockey League entry draft coming up on July 7-8 and the next steps of their future feeling like they’re in some sort of sealed container hidden from view until their name is called, George doesn’t lose any sleep wondering where he might go or what NHL team might call his name.
“It’s an exciting time and something I’ve been working towards,” admitted George. “But I’m still focused on the ice and in the gym to be a better player.”
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George’s name appeared at number 35 among various prospect rankings. He was listed in the second or third round by almost every scouting service that publishes rankings.
Rankings can be something players look at with an open eye worried about where they might be on the list. George says that he didn’t feel that way at all.
“It’s a nice feeling, in the moment, to have that recognition,” George said. “Getting recruited is a big goal for me and then seeing other people’s perspectives was great. I really enjoy the game and even if (ranking) wasn’t there, I would still play the way I did and work to improve.”
Managing the workload he had with the Knights was good preparation for what is to come in George’s career. Facing another team’s top line at various points during the season was something he appreciated.
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“It was a lot of fun. I always tried to keep a positive mindset and that helped me learn and adapt on the fly and that helped me be successful throughout the season,” George described.
That was even after a year in which he designed workouts with his coach and parents that he could do alone in the basement or driveway. The lockdown during the COVID pandemic did not mean that she was left out of training in any way.
“I had a great support system in terms of my family and my coach. Workouts in the basement shooting pucks and working on my hands, doing my best to keep getting better.”
It all helped George shine during his rookie season and put himself in excellent position heading into the NHL draft in Montreal, Que.
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George actually grew up rooting for the Canadiens’ biggest rival.
“I was a huge fan of the Maple Leafs and still am, I’d say,” laughed George.
Depending on what unfolds in the NHL draft, that may have to change.
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Knights select Halttunen in CHL Import Draft
The London Knights selected 17-year-old Kasper Halttunen in the first round of the 2022 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.
Halttunen is a right-back from Helsinki, Finland who spent last season with Jokerit’s Under-20 team and scored 24 goals and 38 points in 41 games. Halttunen also represented Finland at the U-18 Hockey World Championships, where he recorded five points in six games.
Halttunen’s father, Niko, played professionally for 14 seasons in Finland, Sweden, Italy, and the United States. Niko Halttunen also spent 28 games with the ECHL’s Pensacola Ice Pilots.
This year’s CHL Import Draft made things a little more challenging for the Major Junior teams. It normally takes place after the NHL Entry Draft, which gives teams the opportunity to talk with NHL clubs about where they would like to see their prospects develop. Some are very interested in those prospects coming to play in North America. That luxury did not exist this year.
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