John Tavares is a London Knight.
The Oshawa Generals scoring star and world junior championship hero waived his no-trade clause on Thursday and the deal was done. Tavares was dealt with defenceman Michael Del Zotto and goaltender Daryl Borden to London for forward Christian Thomas, defenceman Scott Valentine, goaltender Michael Zador, plus London's second round draft pick in each of the next four years, plus the Knight's third rounders in 2010 and 2011.
Tavares approved a trade to the Knights after Generals' general manager-coach Chris DePiero and Knights' general manager Mark Hunter successfully concluded trade talks Thursday morning.
Coincidentally, the Knights and Generals will face off Friday night in London.
"John and Michael have been terrific players and fantastic ambassadors for our organization," DePiero said in a press release. "John has been here for four years and he's been the face of our franchise and Michael has been here three years and been a great player too.
"We reached a point however where we had to decide if we were going to surround them at this stage of their careers with players that could win a championship, or allow John and Michael the opportunity to perhaps win a Memorial Cup. We obviously chose the latter.
"We are excited about the young players we are bringing in and we are obviously pleased to have so many draft picks that we can use down the road to help us build into a team that can win a championship at a later date. We wish John and Michael nothing but the best and we thank them for everything they have done for this team and this community."
Considered by many to be the first overall pick in this summer's NHL Entry Draft, Tavares was named the tournament MVP at the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship, scoring eight goals and adding seven assists in just six games. The Knights were among several teams interested in his services - a list that includes the Windsor Spitfires, Brampton Battalion, Guelph Storm and Sudbury Wolves.
With 26 goals and 54 points this season, the Oakville, Ontario native remains among the leading scorers in the Ontario Hockey League despite missing a month of action with the national junior team.
With London, Tavares joins the OHL's second-best offence that already features fellow 2009 draft prospect Nazem Kadri. Should Tavares go first overall in the June draft, he will be the third Knight to be taken at the top spot over the last eight years. Rick Nash went first overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002, while the Chicago Blackhawks took Patrick Kane with the No. 1 pick in 2007.
In 2005, Tavares was granted special permission to be selected in the OHL Priority Draft when he was just 14-years-old. He went on to score 45 goals in 65 games with the Generals, who won just 18 games that season.
The following campaign, he scored 72 goals and amassed 134 points with a +25 rating as the Generals qualified for the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Last season, Tavares racked up 118 points in 59 games as the Generals made a serious push to reach the Memorial Cup in Kitchener. He added three goals and 16 points in the 15 playoff games before bowing out to PK Subban and the Belleville Bulls in the Conference Final.
Thomas, the son of former NHLer Steve Thomas, has four goals and 11 points in 32 games this season. Valentine, 17, has a plus-6 rating and 20 penalty minutes in 17 games, while Zador, 17, is 6-1 this season with a 3.64 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in 10 games.