Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WHL teams select 27 imports ... Ice takes Kohler third overall ... Blades' GM: It's an odd draft ...

The CHL import draft was held on Wednesday, which means a whole lot of general managers held their noses and jumped into the pool.
One who didn’t was Colin Priestner of the Saskatoon Blades. His team has two imports scheduled to return, so Priestner didn’t have to spend “500 hours on the phones and emails” to prepare for the draft.
“It really is an odd draft,” Priestner told Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
“It’s the only draft in the world where you don’t know what the players are. Every team’s got a different list of players from the agents; it’s agent-driven. Some teams are told this player’s under contract in Europe and will not be coming over, and the same player gets drafted five picks later to a big-market team, and suddenly, they don’t have a (European) contract.
“You get told no a lot. You’re calling agents, and you’re getting told no hundreds of times, then you’re seeing these players show up in Ontario or Quebec. It’s frustrating, because there’s no defined list of who’s opting in. The obvious solution to that is an opt-in draft. But the problem with that is, if a player opts in for the CHL draft and someone takes him in a small town in Quebec he doesn’t want to go to, he’ll just stay in Europe. It’s a frustrating situation for all our managers to go through, because you really don’t know who’s available.”
This isn’t new to this draft; it’s been going on since Noah first set sale. In fact, former Kootenay Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth talked about this exact thing for years and for a while even chose not to participate.
For whatever reason, though, the CHL chooses to maintain the status quo, other than banning the selection of goaltenders, that is.
Anyway . . . Mitchell’s complete story with Priestner is right here.
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The OHL’s Barrie Colts had the first pick in Wednesday’s CHL import draft and, as expected, took Russian F Andrei Svechnikov, who already is being seen as a potential No. 1 selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft.
Last season, he had 29 goals and 29 assists in 48 games with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks.
The CHL’s 60 teams combined to take 72 players, with 22 WHL teams taking 27 players, and don’t forget that the picking of goaltenders is verboten.
What follows is a team-by-team look at the WHL’s 22 teams and how they fared. Note that I use a different numbering system than most teams. When a team passes on a pick, I don’t give it a number because no player was selected. This means that, for example, while the CHL will say that the Regina Pats took F Emil Oksanen with the 120th selection, he actually was the 70th player chosen. Yes, there were a total of 48 passes in this draft.
Anyway . . . here we go:
Kootenay Ice — 3. F Gilian Kohler (2000), Switzerland. . . . Had eight goals and a league-high 42 assists in 43 games with a U-20 team in Switzerland last season. Also had a goal and five assists in 21 games with Switzerland’s U-18 team. . . . 55. D Martin Bodak (1998), Slovakia. . . . Has played the past two seasons in Finland. . . . Last season, he had seven goals and 15 assists in 38 games with Tappara’s U-20 team. . . . These are the first import selections by the Ice’s new owners — Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell. . . . This would seem to indicate that Russian D Nikita Radzivilyuk won’t return for a second season.
Vancouver Giants — 5. F Milos Roman (1999), Slovakia. . . . Had four goals and two assists in 29 games last season with HC Frydek-Mistek, a pro team in the second tier of pro hockey there. . . . Also had five assists in four games for Slovakia at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial. . . . He is represented by Gerry Johansson of Edmonton-based The Sports Corporation, which is where former Giants GM Scott Bonner now works. . . . 56. F Yannik Valenti (2000), Germany. . . . Had 20 goals and 23 assists with Jungadler Mannheim’s U-19 side. . . . Was pointless in three games with Germany at the U-18 Worlds (Division I Group A). . . . The two selections would seem to indicate that Dutch F Bartek Bison, 19, won’t be back. He was acquired last season from the Prince George Cougars.
Prince Albert Raiders — 8. F Dominik Bokk (2000), Germany. . . . Had 34 goals and 37 assists in 41 games with Kolner EC, a U-19 team. . . . “He’s considered to be the top talent to come out of Germany since Leon Draisaitl,” Curtis Hunt, the Raiders’ GM, said in a news release. . . . Led the IIHF U1-8 Worlds (Division I Group A) with seven goals and was tied for second in points (10), in five games. . . . The Raiders passed in the second round as they expect Czech D Vojtech Budik, 19, back for a third season.
Edmonton Oil Kings — 11. F Andrei Pavlenko (2000), Belarus. . . . Last season, he had 11 goals and 19 assists with the Belarussian U-18 team. . . . Had two goals and two assists in three games with a U-17 team at the Mac’s tournament in Calgary. . . . Had two goals and one assist in seven games at the U-18 Worlds. Played on line with Oil Kings F Artyom Baltruk . . . With Baltruk returning, Edmonton passed in the second round.
Saskatoon Blades — The Blades passed in both rounds. . . . Czech D Libor Hajek and Russian D Mark Rubinchik both are expected to return.
Spokane Chiefs — 15. F Milos Fafrak (1999), Slovakia. . . . Had 11 goals and 28 assists in 44 games with the Slovakian U-18 team in the U-20 Extraliga. . . . Added two goals and two assists in five games at the U-18 Worlds. . . . 59. D Filip Kral (1999), Czech Republic. . . . Put up four goals and six assists in 13 games with HC Kometa Brno in the Czech U-20 league, then was moved to Kometa Brno in the Czech Extraliga, where he had two assists in 23 games. . . . Neither of the two Czechs from last season — F Pavel Kousal nor F Ondrej Najman — will be back.
Calgary Hitmen — The Hitmen passed as they anticipate having Russian F Andrei Grishakov and D Vladislav Yeryomenko of Belarus back for another go-round.
Brandon Wheat Kings — 20. F Martin Kaut (1999), Czech Republic. . . . Last season, had four goals and 12 assists in 22 games with Pardubice in U-20 Czech league. . . . Also played 26 games with HC Dynamo Pardubice in Czech Elite League. . . . Brandon’s other import is Czech D Daniel Bukac, who will return for a second season.
Red Deer Rebels — 23. F Kristian Reichel (1998), Czech Republic. . . .Had two goals and six assists in 41 games last season with Litvinov (Czech Extraliga). . . . Was pointless in five games at the World Junior Championship. . . . His father, Robert, put up 630 points in 830 regular-season NHL games (1990-2004) split between the Calgary Flames, New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . Red Deer made just the one selection as Russian D Alexander Alexeyev will return for a second season.
Victoria Royals — 26. F Igor Martynov (1999), Belarus. . . . Last season, had four goals and seven assists in 20 games with Belarus’ U-20 team. . . . Played at U-18 World Championship, leading team with three goals and four assists in seven games. . . . Had two assists in five games as Belarus won gold at the U-20 Worlds (Division 1 Group A). . . . Was selected in 2016 import draft by the OHL’s Peterborough Petes but didn’t report. Also was picked by Dinamo Minsk in the third round of the KHL’s 2016 draft. . . . The Royals passed in the second round. Russian F Yan Khomenko, who was acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors on May 4, is their other import.
Portland Winterhawks — 28. F Samuel Fagemo (2000), 17, Sweden. . . . Last season, played for Frolunda’s U-18 and U-20 teams, totalling 17 goals and 22 assists in 41 games. . . . Had seven points in six games as Sweden won the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Portland was allowed to pick one import because Finnish D Henri Jokiharju was a first-round selection (Chicago Blackhawks) in the 2017 NHL draft. . . . Also on Portland’s roster is Danish F Joachim Blichfeld. Keep in mind that if the Winterhawks sign Fagemo and he makes the roster, he can’t be traded. That means that if Jokiharju and Blichfeld both return, one of them would have to be moved.
Tri-City Americans — 31. D Roman Kalinichenko (2000), Russia. . . . Played last season for CSKA Moskva’s U-17 side, scoring twice and adding four assists in 29 games. . . . Also played for Russia at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. Was pointless in six games. . . . Is scheduled to play for Russia at Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in August. . . . 61. D Sergei Sapego (1999), Belarus. . . . Last season, he had 20 points, including three goals in 26 games with Belarus’ U-18 team and one assist in 12 games with the U-20 team. He had a goal and an assist in seven games at the U-18 Worlds. . . . The Americans’ roster also includes Finnish D Juuso Valimaki, who was a first-round pick by the Calgary Flames in the NHL’s 2017 draft, and they are expecting veteran Russian D Vladislav Lukin, 20, at training camp.
Swift Current Broncos — The Broncos passed in both rounds as Finnish F Aleksi Heponiemi and Russian Artyom Minulin are expected to return.
Kamloops Blazers — 36. Justin Sigrist (1999), Switzerland. . . . Last season, he had nine goals and 22 assists in 41 games with the GCK Lions, a U-20 team in the Elite Junior A League. . . . Added a goal and two assists in five games at the U-18 Worlds. . . . Twin sister Shannon played for Switzerland at 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Kamloops. . . . Czech D Ondrej Vala will be back for a third season, so the Blazers passed in the second round.
Moose Jaw Warriors — 39. D Oleg Sosunov (1998), Russia . . . They say that he’s 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, so he could have an impact in the Eastern Conference. . . . Last season, he was pointless in 32 games with Loko Yaroslav of the MHL. . . . The Tampa Bay Lightning selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . With Russian D Dmitri Zaitsev returning, Moose Jaw passed on its second selection.
Lethbridge Hurricanes — 42. F Yegor Zudilov (2000), Russia. . . . Had 31 goals and 34 assists in 36 games with Avangard Omsk’s U-17 team last season. . . . Won’t turn 17 until Sept. 10. . . . Russian D Igor Merezhko will return for a third season, so Lethbridge passed in the second round. F Ebor Babenko, 20, also is on the Hurricanes’ roster.

Kelowna Rockets — 45. D Libor Zaransky (2000), Czech Republic. . . . Last season, had nine goals and 26 assists with HC Kometa Brno’s U-20 side. . . . Son of D Libor Zabransky, who was taken by the St. Louis Blues in ninth round of NHL’s 1995 draft . . . 67. F Marek Skvrne (1999), Czech Republic. . . . Was a teammate of Zaransky’s with Kometa Brno. Had eight goals and 13 assists in 21 games. . . . The Rockets’ roster also includes Czech F Tomas Soustal, 20.
Prince George Cougars — 48. F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (1999), Belarus. . . . Had 14 goals and 21 assists in 31 games in the U-18 program last season, and also had four assists in 13 games with the U-20 team. . . . Helped a team from Belarus win the Mac’s midget event in Calgary, putting up six goals and three assists in seven games. . . . The Cougars passed in the second round, as Russian F Nikita Popugaev is expected to return.
Seattle Thunderbirds — 50. F Nikita Malukhin (2000), Russia. . . . Last season, had four goals and two assists in 28 games with Irbis Kazan (MHL). . . . The Thunderbirds will have Finnish F Sami Moilanen back for a second season, so they passed in the second round. . . . Danish F Alexander True, 20, likely won’t return as a two-spotter. He scored the championship-clinching goal in Game 6 in Regina as the Thunderbirds won their first WHL title. . . . His brother, Oliver, 17, was picked yesterday by the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s.
Everett Silvertips — 52. F Martin Fasko-Rudas (2000), Slovakia. . . . Last season, he had 15 points, including eight goals, in 31 games with Slovakia’s U-18 team in a U-20 league. . . . Also had a goal and three assists in two games with HK Dukla Trencin’s U-20 team. . . . 70. F Pavel Azhgirei (2000), Belarus. . . . Won’t turn 17 until July 12. . . . Shown at 6-foot-6 and 192 pounds . . . Last season, he had five goals and five assists in 34 games with Belarus’ U-17 team, and also had three assists in 13 games with the U-20 team. . . . Finnish F Eetu Tuulola won’t be back for a second season, while Austrian F Dominic Zwerger has used up his junior eligibility.
Medicine Hat Tigers — 53. F Mick Kohler (1998), Germany. . . . The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder had 60 points, including 16 goals, in 31 games with Kolner EC’s U-19 team, and had two goals and two assists in 20 games with Dresdner Eislowen (DEL 2). . . . 71. D Linus Nassen (1998), Sweden. . . . He had 16 points, including three goals, with Lulea’s U-20 team, and also had a goal and an assist in 21 games with Lulea of the SHL. . . . Was selected by Brandon in the 2016 import draft but didn’t report . . . Was a third-round selection by the Florida Panthers in the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . F Swedish F John Dahlstrom, 20, will play professionally at home in 2017-18. Latvian D Kristians Rubins, 20, remains on the Tigers’ roster.
Regina Pats — 54. D Yegor Zamula (2000), Russia. . . . Had three goals and 23 assists in 36 games with U-17 Metallurg Magnitogorsk . . . 72. F Emil Oksanen (1998), Finland. . . . Played professionally last season, putting up 13 goals and six assists in 48 games with Espoo United of the Mestis League. . . . Also had three goals and four assists in seven games with Finland’s U-20 team. . . . Swedish F Filip Ahl won’t return for a second season. The Pats’ roster also includes Russian D Sergey Zborovskiy, 20, who is expected to play in the New York Rangers’ organization.


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