August 29, 2011
The Summer of Domi is that has played out exactly as expected — and therein lies the problem.
Virtually everyone has presumed all along the London Knights would land 16-year forward Max Domi, with the Kingston Frontenacs cashing in the centre's rights for a compensatory pick in the 2012 OHL priority selection draft and some other high choices. As Norman James and Ryan Pyette reported today, it will happen soonly. The Knights have called a press conference for 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, likely to announce the trade, after today's formality of Domi not showing up to Frontenacs training camp and becoming a defected player, allowing Kingston to trade him for priority selection draft choices while receiving a compensatory first-round pick in 2012 (hat tip: Sunaya Sapurji).
The reality there was never a doubt speaks to how Ontario Hockey League followers have become used to the whole exercise. It happens because the rules let it happen, since the OHL knows it's probably better off to bend a little for a few players and advisers each year than risk losing anyone to Junior A or the USHL.
As Pyette noted, the only question is what the Knights, who stockpiled draft choices whilst off-loading older players last season, will cough up to Kingston and GM Doug Gilmour.
In recent years, the cost of acquiring a first round no-show has been at least two second-round picks in future drafts, plus an additional higher-end pick or two.
The rebuilding Frontenacs need all the quality draft picks they can collect. The Knights, flush with picks after selling off veteran talent at the trade deadline last year, should contend for the Midwest Division title this season and could take a run at a Memorial Cup berth the following two campaigns.
Domi is sure to be a central part of that chase.
On the ice, Max is similar to dad Tie only in size and spirit. He is a highly skilled playmaker with speed and capable of breaking open games with a timely goal. (London Free Press)
To most neutral obsevers, that probably seems like a happy resolution.The player and his camp should be happy. The rebuilding Frontenacs, whose roster aside from Boston Bruins-drafted 19-year-old centre Ryan Spooner has been almost denuded of proven scoring by trades and attrition, should be happy since they could have two of the first nine choices in 2012 OHL priority selection draft. The contending Knights should be happy at least until the inevitable first time Tie Domi, Max's hands-on hockey dad, is unhappy about something.
In the big picture, though, having the system gamed annually by a few players works against the greater good. Each team has to justify to a player why he should come, especially in the case of Kingston after a decade-plus as an also-ran. Overall, though, the perception of slanted playing field is not a good one.
Two other first-round choices from last spring are also, if you will, still at large. Defenceman Adam Bateman, taken 19th overall, has not reported to the Niagara IceDogs and seems likely to be traded. Defenceman Alex Yuill has not reported to the Barrie Colts, who actually took him with a compensatory pick at 22nd overall.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: CHL Images).