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Here's hoping Ryan Merkley finally has landed in the right place

Former Guelph Storm first overall pick traded to London Knights

I root for Ryan Merkley. I really do.

He is not a bad person. He just makes bad decisions.

Dealings with Merkley during his time in Guelph were nothing but professional, event when things weren’t going well, and I’ve always felt that his issues were in dealing with adversity. That when things didn’t go well, he handled it the wrong way.

He recognized that. Teams he’s played for have recognized that. I’m sure the San Jose Sharks have recognized that.

Merkley has also been open about taking professional steps to try and address some of those issues.

The soap opera of the former first overall pick of the Guelph Storm took another turn late Thursday night with the announcement that he had been traded from the Peterborough Petes to the London Knights.

Third team in four years and and a diminishing return for one of the most offensively gifted players in junior hockey.

Guelph drafting Merkley first overall wasn’t a stretch. He was the consensus number one pick, although the Storm did have a lot of interest in Bode Wilde that draft.

There were rumblings before the draft of issues, there were on and off-ice developments in Guelph that led to his departure and now, presumably, other concerns in Peterborough.

Over the summer the Petes decided that Peterborough “wasn’t the right fit.” Perhaps the player felt that way too.

But when a contending team like the Petes are this year pay heavily for an elite NHL first rounder and decide he “wasn’t the right fit” after just 40 games, well, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

A player that less than a year ago was traded for a 30-goal scorer (Pavel Gogolev) and three high draft picks (a second, third, and fourth rounder) plus two conditional picks in the unlikely event he return to the league for an overage season next year.

Thursday the Knights gave up a third rounder and a conditional second or third rounder. Those picks are in 2022 and 2024.

A diminishing return for one of the most offensively gifted players the league has seen in many years.

Will he right himself in London?


The Knights situation is one he hasn’t been in before. He’s playing for Dale Hunter and the days of trying to nurse Merkley through growing pains are long gone.

The Knights gave up very little for him and the leash will be short.

This is a defining moment for the young hockey player. He has the chance to be an integral part of a contender, work on his shortcomings both on and off the ice and get his career on the right track.

There is no joy, or point, in piling on the Ryan Merkley soap opera, which has pretty much what his OHL career has become.

In fact, quite the opposite. Everyone should want a young man like Merkley to succeed.

Here’s hoping he does.


Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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