After serving as an Assistant General Manager with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the past few seasons, Mark Hunter split from the team following Lou Lamoriello’s departure earlier this summer. Kyle Dubas was named the new GM of the Maple Leafs, leaving little room for Hunter to progress with the organization. Though there had been plenty of speculation that Hunter would find a role elsewhere in the NHL, he instead has returned to the OHL where he will once again take on the title of General Manager with the London Knights. Hunter owns the Knights with his brother and former Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter, who works as head coach of the junior club. Rob Simpson, who was named GM in 2016, will remain with the organization as Associate General Manager.
Hunter was the GM of the Knights for 14 seasons before heading to Toronto, and helped build the OHL franchise into a powerhouse. The junior hockey team is among the most popular and successful organizations in the CHL, and continually graduate NHL caliber players. Just in the last five drafts, the team has produced first-round picks Evan Bouchard, Liam Foudy, Robert Thomas, Olli Juolevi, Matthew Tkachuk, Max Jones and Mitch Marner along with near countless other later round picks. The team also attended four Memorial Cups in the span of five seasons between 2011-2016.
This is a good year for Hunter to be returning, as the Knights are loaded with talent once again and should contend for the OHL Championship. Though Bouchard could potentially be kept by the Edmonton Oilers after being selected 10th overall, the team should still have an impressive blue line headlined by Swedish phenom Adam Boqvist and returning Detroit Red Wings prospect Alec Regula. They also convinced Matvei Guskov to come over from Russia, which could give them another first-round selection next June. You can be sure Hunter will push to acquire even more talent should the team look like potential Memorial Cup champions, especially after leaving the NHL to return home.