June 24, 2013
Remi Elie had an early inkling of where he fit into hockey, which is why he could be a steal at next week's NHL draft.
The London Knights, of course, have their troika of surefire high first-rounders with Max Domi, Bo Horvat and Nikita Zadorov. But London also helped the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Elie marinate slowly as a utility forward — starting games on the fourth line, moving up in event of an injury — across their second consecutive championship season. The native of tiny Green Valley, Ont., showed a excellent potential as a rugged defensive forward, but lest one label him as such, he was versatile enough to take point duties on power plays by times.
"Since I was young I always liked to hit and go into the corner and win puck battles," says Elie, who was 71st among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings but could hear his name in the second or third round next Sunday in Newark. " I was a skilled guy when I was young but when I got bigger and got stronger, I thought I could be a power forward.
"It's important to just be bringing energy to the team," adds Elie, who had seven goals and 17 points in 65 regular-season games as a Knights rookie. "Go out there and hit, cycle the puck, getting puck to the net."
Elie displayed plenty of offensive flair in his age-16 year in 2011-12 with the Junior A Hawkesbury Hawks, tallying 21 goals and 46 points while playing for coach/co-owner Shawn Anderson, a former NHL teammate of Knights coach Dale Hunter. More importantly, though, Anderson made sure to finetune Elie's two-way game, rather than tolerating rookie mistakes.
"He improved me a lot, especially on the defensive side of the game," Elie says.
London has one well-known brother act with twins Matt and Ryan Rupert, forwards who are headed into their 19-year-old season. Elie's brother Tristen Elie, 15 months younger, is a 2012 London selection who made Junior A as a 16-year-old last season.
"He's the skilled guy and I'm the power forward," Remi Elie says. "It's good to have a younger brother you can help with going through it [the junior hockey grind] after you've been through it."
1. Which NHL player(s) do you watch because he, or they, have a style of game close to what you aspire to do at that level someday?
"I like to watch [Milan] Lucic and Jamie Benn and all those types of players, but I also like to watch skilled players like [Sidney] Crosby, [Alex] Ovechkin and [Jordan] Eberle."
2. So you make the Knights in camp this year, and then NHL stars Drew Doughty and Corey Perry show up to practise with the team during the lockout? How impressive was that?
"It was pretty cool. Doughty and Perry. You could see how skilled they are, but you could also see how they work. They taught us some pointers about one-timers and stuff. Like when Doughty shoots, he aims. They just talk about how they got there."
3. Outside of hockey, what is your favourite sport?
"I hunt a lot. I fish a lot. I like to play beach volleyball during the summer."
4. Athletes have to be super-strict about their nutrition... so what is your favourite junk food?
"Probably poutine, like back in Quebec."
5. Favourite TV show or movie?
"Favourite movie — Never Back Down. Favourite TV show — Friday Night Lights." (Favourite character on that show?) "Tim Riggins."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.