SBJ/July 1 - 7, 2002/Labor Agents

2002 NHL draft

Sports agency Octagon and the hockey agency headed by former great Bobby Orr were big winners in the 2002 NHL draft, each representing four players.

The Orr Hockey Group, a company headed by hall of famer Orr that broke off from Woolf Associates in the last year, represents No. 5 pick Ryan Whitney, No. 9 pick Petr Taticek, No. 19 pick Jakub Koreis and No. 23 pick Ben Eager.

Octagon represents No. 2 pick Kari Lehtonen, No. 4 pick Joni Pitkanen and No. 22 pick Sean Bergenheim, all Finnish players. The company also is the adviser to the family of No. 30 pick Jim Slater.

"We had a very nice draft," said Brian Lawton, a former player who heads Octagon's hockey division. Lawton and agents Larry Kelly and Mike Liut jointly represent the players.

Lawton said the Octagon hockey division is concentrating recruiting efforts more on likely high draft picks, rather than on high numbers of players. "From a business standpoint, the reality of the NHL draft is ... the odds really drop off in the later rounds," he said.

Independent agents or agents not associated with a large agency did well in this year's draft. Notably, the No. 1 and No. 3 picks were both represented by agents from small firms. Gordon Kirke represents No. 1 Rick Nash and Bryon Baltimore represents No. 3 Jay Bouwmeester. Kirke and Baltimore are both sports lawyers practicing in Canada.

— Liz Mullen

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