Big Ben Chimes and Patrick Shinesby Michael Oram | September 1, 2017, 9:39 PM ET
As a new season quickly approaches the Monarchs didn’t waste any time coming off the summer break. Continuing the trend from last season the team looked to secure its future and did so in a series of moves that has set up the team for the long term.
It began with a move that was rumoured to have surfaced at last season’s trade deadline. The deal saw the Monarchs ship out disgruntled goaltender Robin Lehner to the Calgary Mustangs. In exchange London acquired Ben Bishop and Las Vegas’ first round pick in 2018. And thus, once again a new era in goaltending is upon London. With the bell commonly known as Big Ben set to be silenced for four years the Monarchs bring in their own Big Ben to fill the void. However, it was the acquisition of the additional first round pick that set up things to come.
This pick would become one of three used in a deal with the newly formed Banff Rockies to make one of draft days biggest surprises. The deal itself has been rumoured to have come together the night before the draft in a room full of…shall we say, less than sober GMs? Although the deal was kept quiet until announced on the draft floor. Moments after the first overall selection was made Commissioner Mark MacRae approached the podium and uttered those most famous words: “We have a trade to announce.”
While the draft room fell silent a few heads swivelled with knowing looks thrown at Oram and Constable. The deal saw London send three first round picks (12th overall, Las Vegas’ 2018, and London’s 2019) to Banff in exchange for the second overall pick and a fifth rounder later in the day. It was then that President of Hockey Operations Oram approached the podium and made the league’s first ever live selection. Nolan Patrick was coronated the new king of London. Instantly the team had a succession plan for Alexander Ovechkin.
While he won’t be available to the team for the 2017-18 season he is anticipated to make his debut and lasting impact on the franchise beginning in the 2018-19 season. That is the season the team is looking toward as it assembles its new core. The young dynamic centreman being one of the key pieces of this re-tooling on the fly. Oram notes that this deal gives the team three young and dynamic centres including Mikael Backlund and Matt Duchene along with a top defense corps of Roman Josi, Tyler Myers, and Sami Vatanen.
Rounding out this core are other young guns Sebastian Aho, Riley Tufte, Artturi Lehkonen, and Tyler Ennis. On defence the team added young upcomer Brayden McNabb in a trade with Acadia and have Darren Dietz, Jack Dougherty, and Rasmus Andersson making their way up through the system.
Goaltending, now led by Bishop, has been solidified for the long run too. Bishop is expected to rotate the Franchise Tag with Ovechkin for the foreseeable future. Kari Lehtonen will back him up this season with Jordan Binnington and newly acquired MacKenzie Blackwood leading the charge in Liverpool.
With the immediate future of the team set, London turned their attention to the distant future with their remaining picks in the 2017 draft. With the 40th overall pick the Monarchs selected the next piece to their goaltending puzzle with Memorial Cup winner Michael Dipietro joining the team. The short goalie has all the skill to make the SICHL but will need some further development in junior and the minors. But with Bishop in the crease the team has no reason to rush him.
The Monarchs then focussed on defence with their final picks. They made a move with Nova Scotia on the draft floor to move up to the 91st selection where they took Luke Martin and then capped their draft selecting Tyler Inamoto with the 116th pick.
Although some have suggested the Monarchs may struggle this season, the future is looking very bright for this club. It won’t be long before they are back in the hunt for World Conference dominance.
Notes from the Throne
Although they were involved in the eight-team trade that saw Taylor Doherty join the club and Bryce Van Brabant leave, team management denies “the outrages rumours that they were the diabolical mind behind the deal.” The club refused further comment when pressed for details on how the deal emerged and rumours that at least eight GMs were in the Monarchs draft headquarters moments before the deal broke.