Friday, July 7, 2017

2017 CHL Import Draft Review

On Tuesday, June 28, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft. It is here, CHL teams get the opportunity to add import talent to their roster. There are two rounds of the draft, and a team can pass on their pick at any time. Import picks can not be traded. Goalies are not allowed to be selected.

Just to remind you, CHL clubs are permitted to carry only two import players on their team or protected list every year. However, if a CHL team has an Import who was an NHL first round pick (such as London with Olli Juolevi), they receive the opportunity to add another player to their protected list to cover should that first round import (like Juolevi) make the NHL. There are other scenarios which can allow you to carry the rights of three (such as having an OA Import, having an Import on their protected list who didn't show the year prior, etc). Overall, it's pretty complicated.

While the Import Draft can be a bit of a crap shoot, many of the players drafted do come over and can have an impact. Let's breakdown the results of previous five Import Drafts.

In 2012
22 of 27 players selected came to the OHL (81%)
17 of 27 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (63%)
9 (open for debate) of the 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (33%)

In 2013
22 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (88%)
20 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (80%)
7 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (28%)

In 2014
19 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (76%)
18 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (72%)
11 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (44%)

In 2015
23 of 28 players selected came to the OHL (82%)
17 of 28 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (61%%)
10 (open for debate) of the 28 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (36%)

In 2016
23 of 30 players selected came to the OHL (76%)
21 of 30 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (70%)
12 of 30 (open for debate) of the 28 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (40%)

This article will provide you with some information and scouting reports on those selected.

Of course this article wouldn't have been possible without the help of these experts:

The Guys over at Future Considerations. Make sure you give them a follow. More specifically...

William Hogberg (@whoegberg)

Dennis Schellenberg (@ScoutingFactory)

Matt Grainda (@graindaiv)

Anton Vasyatin (@Av1376)

Chapin Landvogt (@Csomichapin)


Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst  (@TheDraftAnalyst)

Marco Bombino of McKeens Hockey and FinnProspects (@marco_bombino)

Jakub Homola (a former contributor to (@Jakub_Homola)

Karel Malek of juniorskyhokej (@karl_karlsson)

1. Barrie Colts - Andrei Svechnikov - Forward
The worst kept secret in the CHL; the Barrie Colts selecting Svechnikov 1st overall in the draft. Long been rumoured and it finally came to fruition. This is a massive get for the Colts. Svechnikov is a potential 1st overall candidate for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and immediately fast tracks the clubs rebuilding phase. I watched this kid play at the U18's this year and he was easily one of the most impressive players in the tournament. Last year in the USHL (as a 16/17 year old 2000 born), he won the rookie of the year, finished top 5 in goal scoring and doubled the point totals of the next closest age equivalent. Impressive stuff. Can't wait to see this kid in the OHL.
Scouting Report: Matt Grainda says, “Andrei Svechnikov is without a doubt a very high-end hockey player. After signing a tender with the Muskegon Lumberjacks last season, Svechnikov came into the USHL as a 16 year-old and proceeded to put up 58 points over 48 games. He earned USHL Rookie of the Year honors and was a member of the USHL First All-Star team and the USHL All-Rookie team. He also had fantastic showings in the U17 World Hockey Challenge and the U18 World Championships. Svechnikov plays with all the tools you are looking for in a big-time prospect and is one heck of a natural-born scorer. He’s got great speed that is enhanced by a quick motor and he packages those tools with highlight-reel puck skills. His superb playmaking ability and excellent shot release help him generate chances on most shifts. He is often unpredictable when the puck is on his stick as his puck-handling allows him to keep defensive players off balance. It is unwise to leave him alone in the offensive zone due to his scoring capabilities and he is also incredibly dangerous on the rush. Not only does he play with skill, Svechnikov also plays a very physically strong game and he has no fear driving the net for an opportunity. He should develop into a very good NHL player down the road.” Future Considerations has Svechnikov ranked second right now for 2018 and here's a few snippets from their draft guide. "An electrifying, shoot first winger with an explosive, and powerful stride, especially for a larger player. Possesses edge of your seat puck skills and can dangle around opponents or drive through them. Goes to the gritty areas and thrives in traffic. Has near unlimited potential."

4. Guelph Storm - Alexei Toropchenko - Forward
The Storm take a teammate of Dmitri Samorukov's at the recent U18's in Alexei Toropchenko. A 6'3 winger, Toropchenko (a '99 born) was selected in the 4th round by the St. Louis Blues in the 2017 NHL Draft. His draft rankings were a little all over the place, but you have to think that he has the potential to be a top 6 forward for Guelph this year. His reports from St. Louis Blues prospect camp were very encouraging, especially reading about how impressive his speed was. Sounds like a great fit for the Storm.
Scouting Report: Steve Kournianos (of the Draft Analyst) had Toropchenko rated 62nd heading into the draft and says "Toropchenko is super-talented scoring winger who uses his speed, length and tenacity to cause matchup problems. He makes his living causing havoc in front of the net, and his finishing skills off rebounds and loose pucks are among the best the 2017 draft has to offer. Toropchenko is both physical and has game-breaking skills with top-line upside."

7. North Bay Battalion - Filip Chytil - Forward
North Bay opened up an import spot by dealing forward Max Kislinger to Flint and made a pretty big gamble with that open spot. They selected NY Rangers first rounder (in 2017) Filip Chytil. A lanky forward from the Czech Republic, Chytil was very impressive Internationally this year and if he comes to the OHL, he could be an impact player. His agent has already said that it's AHL or back to Europe for Chytil this year, so it looks very unlikely. Bottom line is that I loved what I saw of this kid at the Hlinka and the U18's this year and hope he (or the Rangers) change his mind.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations had Chytil at 70th heading into the draft (which was low compared to other scouting agencies), and had this to say: "Chytil is a terrific skater with excellent balance and edgework. Very effective at carrying the puck into the zone and he uses his good vision to quickly find open lanes. A sneaky good forechecker and stronger on the puck than he looks." The Hockey News had him rated 63rd and said, "strong, two-way pivot who does all the right things."

10. Saginaw Spirit - Martin Necas - Forward
The Spirit continued the trend of OHL teams swinging for the fences with their import selections. Necas is a highly touted prospect who was selected 12th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes at this year's NHL draft. He struggled a bit internationally this year, but was solid in the Czech league against men and should he decide to come over to the OHL, he would be an impact player who could slot on to Saginaw's top line. His speed would play well in the OHL's Western Conference.
Scouting Report: Steve Kournianos of the Draft Analyst says, "Dynamic offensive threat with an exceptional understanding of nearly every facet of the game. He’s an excellent skater with a smooth, graceful stride, using quick bursts and lateral movements to not only breach an opposing zone, but hang onto the puck long to enough for support to arrive. Necas is a two-way player who can be used on the top unit of either the power play or penalty kill, and all plays generally run through him. He is an accurate passer and can create or finish plays with a high degree of difficulty. Slight of frame, Necas has very good balance and is difficult to knock off the puck. He is a fierce competitor who plays with emotion and enthusiasm. A star in the making." The Hockey News had Necas rated 12th and said, "His skating is as good as anybody's. He has high end offensive touch. Necas plays a responsible, mature game and takes care of defense first."

13. Niagara IceDogs - Timothy Liljegren - Defense
Leading up to the draft, Liljegren was rumoured to be the target of the London Knights. Shockingly, the IceDogs swooped in and grabbed him instead. Of course, immediately the Liljegren camp took to the media to say that he would not be coming and that the OHL was not in consideration. The NHL 1st rounder of the Maple Leafs would be a huge get for the IceDogs and the league, but it does seem far fetched at this point. Only hope is that the Leafs (and their OHL heavy front office staff) convince Liljegren to come over to develop.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations, who had Liljegren as the 22nd ranked player for the 2017 draft, says, “Top-tier puck slinger leans towards offense and does well managing the pace of the game. Elite skater that has all the gears and the lateral/transition technique to be shifty on the line or defend the rush. Puck skill and protection ability to hold onto pucks for extended periods of time. Gets rangy defensively a bit to cut men off early and pressure gap control. Not a physical guy, relies on offensive stick skill to turn play around.”

16. Ottawa 67's - Nikita Okhotyuk - Defense
The 67's head to Russia for their first selection in the draft. A 6'1, 2000 born, defender who played at both the Under 17's and the World Junior A (U19) Challenge for Russia this past year. He's got a December birth date, so he's not eligible for the NHL Draft until 2019. Just another piece of a talented, but young, 67's blueline.
Scouting Report: Anton Vasyatin says, "Okhotyuk is one of the most promising Russian defensemen of the 2000 year of birth. Hockey school from Chelyabinsk is known as the best in Russia, and that's why Okhotyuk has increased attention from fans and scouts. He played at least at 10 international tournaments with Russian national teams U16, U17 and U18 (And in one of them he was a team Captain for U17) in last two years. He was one of the key d-men for Belye Medvedi in the MHL (Primary junior league in Russia), has good first pass and doesn't shy to shoot the puck a lot. Needs to be more confident in his defensive game. Likely to become a solid two-way defender in the future. Has a chance to make the Russian Hlinka team this summer."

19. Sudbury Wolves - Zack Malik - Defense
Bloodlines can often be a good thing for the game of hockey, and the Wolves' Import pick hopefully exemplifies that. Zack Malik is the son of former NHL'er Marek Malik. He played a lot for the Czech Republic this year, including the World U17's. Only 6 players under 17 played more than 20 games in the Czech U20 league this past year and Malik was one of them. So he looks like a great pick for the Wolves, who we all know could use an upgrade on the backend.
Scouting Report: Karel Malek says, "Zack is quite a good skater, moves his feet really quick for a tall guy. He should add pounds over the summer to improve his physical game. He has sweet hands, likes to carry the puck and isn't afraid to play even under pressure. Usually makes good decisions. Needs to work on his shot accuracy - shoots really hard but often misses the net. Great character, does everything for a win and team mates also like him off the ice."

22. Sarnia Sting - Hugo Leufvenius - Forward
With the success of Adam Ruzicka this past year, the Sting opt for another huge forward in Swedish center Hugo Leufvenius. The 6'3, 220lbs, 1999 born forward went undrafted in 2017 and will be looking to use the OHL as a way to draw interest from NHL scouts. Possibly looking at a big kid whose game is better suited for the small ice in North America. That said, Leufvenius did not make Team Sweden's roster for the Hlinka or the U18's this past year, so not sure how much of an impact he'll be able to make.
Scouting Report: William Hogberg of FC says, "Thick and sturdy power-winger with an Ovechkin-like build: measuring in at 6'3 and weighing close to 220 lbs. Leufvenius has above-average speed in a straight line but everything else about his skating leaves a lot to be desired, his edgework and overall agility in particular. More of an honest north/south player as he lacks high-end creativity and hockey sense. Is responsible defensively and can be relied upon in his own zone to break up plays and transition up the ice. Has a hard shot, but is not as much of a goalscorer as you would expect as he is too predictable when it comes to shot selection. A power forward in the sense that he plays every shift with intensity and a purpose, but he has not yet learned how to use his big frame fully to his advantage. With the tools at his disposal, Leufvenius could be an impact forward if he refines his skill set, but he has his work cut out for him."

25. Flint Firebirds - Nikita Alexandrov - Defense
Hilariously one of two Nikita Alexandrov's drafted in the Import Draft this year (the other was a forward who went to Charlottetown, QMJHL). The Firebirds version is a massive, 6'6 blueliner who was passed over in this year's NHL Draft (a '99 born) after playing in the MHL this year. Like Leufvenius, here's a kid looking to come over to try to draw the ire of NHL scouts. However, like Leufvenius, Alexandrov did not make any of Russia's international teams this year (like the Hlinka or the U18's), so it looks like a bit of a long shot for him to be an impact player.
Scouting Report: Anton Vasyatin says, "didn't ever play for Team Russia. He was one of the worst HK MVD d-men this season. But I like his skating and consider that he may become a strong stay-at-home defenseman. He also has a very hard shot. Dynamo (HK MVD is its' junior team) has financial problems right now, so maybe he will try to come overseas this summer (but it's only my guess)."

28. Hamilton Bulldogs - Joni Ikonen - Forward
The Bulldogs selected one of my favourite players available for the 2017 NHL Draft this year, in Finnish forward Joni Ikonen. The Montreal Canadiens second rounder was very impressive at the U18's this year where he was among the tournament's leading scorers. His skill level and creativity would provide a massive upgrade to the Bulldogs' forward group. Unfortunately, you can add Ikonen to the list of high profile players selected who have stated that they will not be coming to the CHL and instead will stay in Europe. Again, let's wait and see as sometimes NHL teams can temper those initial shock reactions.
Scouting Report: According to Steve Kournianos, the Draft Analyst, "Ikonen is a dynamic playmaker with top line upside who excels in all three zones. He’s an inside player willing to take whatever punishment awaits as he dangles and spins his way into the tough scoring areas. Ikonen has excellent balance and is a strong puck carrier who can make high-percentage plays either off the rush or after collecting loose pucks during board battles. When the puck is on his stick, you get a sense that he wants to be in command and dictate the tempo, especially on the power play. Ikonen is both fast and incredibly shifty, going full bore to hunt down pucks off the forecheck and stopping on a dime with his head up. He’s a strong competitor and is the last kid looking for a line change as his motor enables him to maintain the same compete level from the beginning of a shift to the very end."

34. Kitchener Rangers - Adam Liska - Forward
Kitchener had an excellent Import Draft and with their first selection they nabbed a highly touted 2018 NHL Draft prospect in Slovakian forward Adam Liska. A late '99 born, Liska was Slovakia's top performer at this year's U18's (outscoring Adam Ruzicka of Sarnia). I thought he was very impressive at that event and should jump right into Kitchener's top 6. He comes into the year as a potential top three round pick (rated in the 3rd round by Future Considerations and the top 40 by Recrutes), but he could rise quickly with a strong year.
Scouting Report: Dennis Schellenberg says, "Adam Liska has captained Slovakian teams this past season and can help a team in many ways. He is a true leader on the ice and communicates very well with team mates. Can play a strong game at both ends of the ice and backchecks hard and with consequence. He has the ability to kill time when playing shorthanded as he can keep the puck away from his own zone with good puck protection and board game. He is strong on the skates and hard to knock off the puck. He does a lot of small things right, although not having high-end offensive upside. Offensively, he is somehow limited in his ability to create scoring chances, however, he possesses good awareness of his line mates and his puck protection skills are good as well and can be used to keep the puck in the offensive zone." In addition to that, Jakub Homola says, "Versatile player, really decent skater, willing to play back and forth. He's physically well-prepared but his size limits and will always limit him a bit. He might be a one of the top rookie in the league."

37. Mississauga Steelheads - Albert Michnac - Forward
Well there's a familiar name. The Steelheads take the former Guelph Storm forward after the Storm released his rights prior to the draft. It's good to see him back in the league. Thought he was great to start last year, but really lost steam in the second half of the year. I think he should be a great depth scoring option for Mississauga this year.
Scouting Report: Interesting to contrast what I wrote about Michnac early on in the year versus what I wrote at the end. Had him in the mid 30's (among OHL'ers for the 2017 Draft) for October and February. In October, "A real sparkplug. Michnac has been extremely noticeable every time I've seen Guelph thus far. Like a little waterbug out there, darting around through traffic. Definitely has some skill too. Would love to see him on the PP more." In February, "The stats don't jump out at you, but if you watch Guelph play, you'll no doubt notice #20 for the Storm. Like a little water bug out there, darting in and out of traffic. Type of guy I could really see producing once he gains confidence in his ability to play with the puck at this level." But by June he had fallen out of my top 50 and I wrote, "Michnac was a fixture in my top 50 all season long, but thanks to a pretty rough second half, I've dropped him to the HM list. Don't get me wrong, I still like Michnac as a player, but I'm less convinced he's an NHL prospect than I was in November or December. He's like a little waterbug out there. He's deceptively quick and very elusive in traffic, showcasing quick hands and creativity to make plays. But he had only 2 goals in his final 19 games, and developed a bad habit of overhandling the puck and making poor decisions in the offensive end in the second half (although that might sum up the entire Guelph roster). Just not sure I see high end hockey sense. And when you add in the fact that he's a late '98 and undersized, I think that likely equals an undrafted prospect. Would love to see him stick in the OHL, but with a high Import pick and Dmitri Samorukov outplaying him, I think we've also seen the last of him in the league."

40. Oshawa Generals - Nico Gross - Defense
The Generals went to Switzerland for their import selection, taking a highly touted '2000 born defender named Nico Gross. Gross is considered a possible top 3 round selection for the 2018 NHL Draft. This past year he was one of the only 2000 born players at the World Juniors (U20's) and also suited up for Switzlerland at the U18's and the Hlinka (as an underager). Remains to be seen whether he's coming over or not, but he looks like he could have an immediate impact.
Scouting Report: Dennis Schellenberg says, "Nico Gross is an offensive-minded defenceman who likes to join rushes and get things going offensively. He is mobile on his skates which helps him to escape from forecheckers when under pressure with quick turns and overall quickness. Good backwards skater and is pivoting nicely. Gross played pro-hockey last season in Switzerland and has a coolness in his game which is seen rarely at his age and competing against men. He keeps calm when under pressure and can make plays in tight and when pressured by opposing forecheckers as he is good in buying himself time and ice with quick turns when in puck possession. Gross possesses fine hands and can contribute offensively with crisp passes and decen puckhandling. He sometimes reminds me of 2018 top prospect Rasmus Dahlin with his rushes from the neutral zone into the offensive zone while putting up moves and going into one-on-one situations. His biggest room for improvement is definitely the physical game, which does not really exist at all. He does not show great balance on skates and gets knocked down easily when taking a hit. He also showed issues in the men’s league when opponents played the body on him. However, we need to keep in mind at that point that he was 16 and playing in a pro-league is always challenging, especially physically."

43. Peterborough Petes - Gleb Babintsev - Defense
Looking to replace the likes of Spencer, Jenkins, and Prophet, the Petes selected a young Russian defender who they hope can play in the top 6 and help out on the powerplay. He didn't make the Russian U17 team this year, but he did put up some pretty impressive offensive numbers in the Russian U17 league, where he was among the leading scorers from the blueline.
Scouting Report: Anton Vasyatin says, " is an offensive-minded defenseman and is my favourite player of the Russians selected by OHL teams. Reads plays well in his own end. Has good mobility and puck possession. Always knows where he need to be. Could be an elite player with his hockey IQ. Has a chance to make the Russian Hlinka team in the summer."

46. Windsor Spitfires - Kirill Kozhevnikov - Forward
There's no doubt that the Spitfires expect Mikhail Sergachev to stick with the Tampa Bay Lightning this year. And Julius Nattinen is moving on to the pro level. So this was an important Import Draft for the defending Memorial Cup champions. Their first pick was a '99 born Russian forward who was passed over in the 2017 NHL Draft (was ranked in the mid 90's by NHL Central Scouting among European skaters). Kozhevnikov didn't play internationally for Russia this year (e.g. the U18's), but he did play the full year in the MHL where he put up some decent stats, finishing just outside the top 10 in scoring among U18 year olds (as a comparison, Guelph's pick and NHL draft pick Toropchenko was 4th).
Scouting Report: Anton Vasyatin says, "is the only player of this five who made a professional debut. He is compared with Vladimir Tarasenko on his nature. Big, strong, skilled, likes to shoot. A very dangerous attacker who can play physical. He started 16/17 season in the KHL team Yugra, but then was assigned to junior team. They say, Kirill is a little bit lazy, and it's his main problem. Not listed as having a contract right now with Yugra."

49. London Knights - Jesper Bratt - Forward
A 2016 6th rounder by the New Jersey Devils, Jesper Bratt was the Knights' first import selection. Bratt recently signed with the Devils and the assumption was that he'd play in the AHL this year. But this gives New Jersey another option on where to assign him. This would give London a veteran forward to inject into their lineup, a guy who could play in their top 9. That said, this does scream like a "someone else took our guy," selection. Have to wonder if London had someone else in mind, like Liljegren.
Scouting Report: Before the 2016 NHL Draft, Future Considerations had Bratt as the 78th best prospect. They had this to say: "An offensively inclined winger who is dangerous with the puck in space. A strong and explosive skater who maintains possession at top speed. Can be prone to turnovers from trying to do too much at times. Effective at driving the net and has a nasty, quick release. Anticipates plays well in the defensive zone and is a solid penalty killer. Needs to work on his consistency but is a player who could become a primary scoring threat."

52. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Rasmus Sandin - Defense
After losing both of their imports next year, the Hounds went big with their two selections; both being top prospects eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft. The first, Sandin, was excellent for Sweden internationally this year (including the U17's) and is considered a potential first round pick next June. He's already signed a contract with Rogle for next year though, so it remains to be seen whether he's going to come over or not. Seems like a long shot right now.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations has Sandin rated 38th for 2018 and says, "Sandin is a gifted two-way defenseman. His hands are an asset, as is his confident passing ability. A decent skater with good speed, but needs to work on his edgework. Strong at fending off forecheckers and possesses excellent defensive awareness. He has some impressive potential as puck mover who can also be effective in his own zone."

55. Owen Sound Attack - Vasili Filyayev - Forward
The Attack go to Belarus for the second year in a row in the Import Draft. With the success of Maksim Sushko, it seems like a worthy gamble. That said, Filyayev's stats certainly aren't impressive. The 6'3, '99 born went pointless at the U18's and definitely didn't light the Belarussian U20 league on fire either. To give you an idea, Sushko was putting up over a point per game in the Belarussian men's second league as a 17 year old when the Attack drafted him. I'd be shocked if this pick turned into anything. Perhaps a friend of Sushko's who the team is hoping can be a diamond in the rough?
Scouting Report: None of my contacts had any real, solid information of Filyayev. So here's tome snippets of interviews with Dale DeGray, one from the Sun Times in Owen Sound, and the other from Bayshore Broadcasting. Courtesy Rob Gowan's article, "He is skilled and is an average skater, but he has very good vision and is a smart player." Meanwhile, courtesy Kevin Bernard, "He's a big body who is a presence down the middle of the ice and combines a high level of skill with great skating to make an impact on the game." DeGray later goes on to compare him to Sushko.

57. Erie Otters - Stephane Patry - Forward
With their only selection in the import draft, the Otters selected an undersized Swiss forward who played for Switzerland a ton internationally this year. This included the U18's, where he played as an underager, which tells you that he must be one of the more well regarded Swiss players in his age group. He was also the 3rd highest scoring U17 player in the Swiss U20 league last year. Patry, a 2000 born, looks like he could be a potential top 9 player for a re-tooling Otters team next year.
Scouting Report: Dennis Schellenberg says, "Stephane Patry is an undersized Swiss forward who possesses good offensive upside. He has good hands and can stickhandle very nicely. Patry is a player who is good around the net and can contribute offensively big time. He is smooth on his skates and can move over the ice with good speed and agility. Given his smallish size, he can outskate bigger opponents with his speed. He spent the season at U20-level and took over responsibility in important moments of games, which is good to see as he was one of the younger players on Servette’s U20 roster. He can play all game situations and also saw ice time when playing shorthanded. Although he is rather small in size and underdeveloped in his physical game, he does not shy away to go into board battles. Patry is a good skater, however, I would like to see his first steps getting more explosive."

70. Saginaw Spirit - Tom-Eric Bappert - Defense
With their second import selection (due to Markus Niemelainen heading back to Finland), the Spirit look to Germany for a potential replacement. Bappert was the highest scoring defender on the Germany U18 team that played in the 2nd division tournament (but failed to qualify for the top division next year). The '99 born blueliner wasn't selected in the 2017 NHL Draft, so he'll likely be looking to come over to play well enough to draw attention from NHL scouts.
Scouting Report: Chapin Landvogt says, "We're talking about a defenseman who is a bit of an all-rounder and has a decent frame to work with. He's undergone excellent physical development in recent years and has become a pretty nice physical specimen who brings a little bit of everything to the table. Still, he isn't going to show up in North America with expectations of having an (immediate) offensive impact. He'll need time to adjust to what will be better competition and a lot more games. The U18 national team had him firmly planted on one of the power play units this past winter and he's always produced at an above-average, but not necessarily outstanding pace. What can be expected is that he'll have a high willingness to learn and is a capable skater with decent lateral movement. Furthermore, he has shown himself ready to play with physicality and looks like the type of player who just needs to continually work on everything bit-by-bit in order to progress accordingly as an all-rounder. He'll be ready to place an emphasis on defensive assignments. There is a very good possibility that his developmental curve in the OHL will be similar to that of recent Winnipeg Jets draftee Leon Gawanke. He's also a likely candidate to be on the German U20 team next winter in France, should Saginaw release him for the event."

76. Ottawa 67's - Oliver True - Forward
The 67's choose a second time, but still retain the rights to star Artur Tyanulin, in case he decides he wants to return as an OA. If he does, only one of their picks will play. True looks like a solid player though. Was only one of three U17 (2000 born) players to see full time action in the Danish top league against men, a league which is filled with former OHL stars (like leading scorer Dale Mitchell). His father, Soren, was an NHL Draft pick and his cousin is Winnipeg Jets young gun (and former CHL'er), Nikolaj Ehlers. Good bloodlines. Good production. This guy could be a diamond in the rough.
Scouting Report: None of my contacts had solid information on True, but Chapin Landvogt did put his production into perspective for us. "He's obviously Alex True's brother and thus, also a cousin of a one Mr. Ehlers. He's not as tall as Alex, but also not as skinny as his brother was at the same stage. He played a TON of hockey last season, even slotting in for 32 games in Denmark's highest pro league which is almost at about the ECHL level. Four points in 32 games is something many of the more talented 16-year olds in recent years have achieved, but doesn't quite compare to what i.e. Rondbjerg did the season before. In 55 total games last season, he 73 penalty minutes, most of them in the junior leagues." Also, from the Ottawa 67's website, new GM James Boyd says, "“Oliver True is a right-winger with excellent skill. With a year of professional hockey under his belt in Denmark during 2016-2017 season, Oliver has experience against older and stronger players,” commented Boyd. “His brother played for WHL Champions Seattle Thunderbirds during 2016-2017.”

94. Kitchener Rangers - Rickard Hugg - Forward
As mentioned, the Rangers had a very solid import draft. Their second pick also has a chance to be a top 6 impact forward for them. Any list I saw of the biggest surprises that went undrafted in the NHL this year contained Hugg, the captain of the Swedish U18 team. He was also named the top forward in the junior U20 league this year. Hugg has long been considered one of the top forwards of his age group in Sweden and he should be a solid player for the Rangers. With a good year, he could find himself back on the NHL radar.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations had Hugg ranked 111th heading into the draft and said, "Hugg is an offensively engaged player who controls the puck well and has a strong ability to set up his linemates. He isn't the swiftest skater but has good overall mobility and balance. He makes up for his lack of speed with excellent hockey sense. He needs to improve his defensive commitment, but his reads and understanding defensively show promise. A projected two-way center but with lots of room to improve." Interestingly enough, The Hockey News has a bit of a conflicting opinion of him and has him ranked 87th, saying "heady two-way playmaker makes linemates better but needs work on his skating."

106. Windsor Spitfires - Lev Starikov - Defense
As mentioned, the Spits get a 3rd Import to protect because of Sergachev's first round status (and likely NHL exit). Starikov is a behemoth (6'6), 2000 born defender who also has a late birthday and isn't eligible until 2019 for the NHL draft. Lots of time for him to develop so Windsor may have to be patient. But among 2000 born defenders, Starikov did have the most points in the MHL, the KHL's junior feeder league. That's very promising.
Scouting Report: Anton Vasyatin says, "is a huge defender who can play clean hockey without penalties. A very consistent player who tries to be extremely useful when he is on the ice - doesn't matter it's full strength, power play or penalty kill. But his gritty game is a room for improvement."

109. London Knights - Adam Boqvist - Defense
The Knights gave up the rights to Janne Kuokkanen to make a second pick in the draft (I suppose he's definitely heading to the AHL next year). The pick was a very highly regarded defender for next year's NHL draft. Boqvist played at the U17's and U18's this year and seems to be universally ranked as a potential lottery selection in 2018. The bad news is that it seems he won't be coming. His agent stated that he'll be staying in Sweden next year, for his draft year. Maybe a stash for next year?
Scouting Report: Future Considerations has Boqvist rated 14th going into next year draft and says, "Boqvist is a confident, puck moving blueliner. Solid and efficient skater who keeps the game simple. Plays the point very well and keeps pucks in at the line. Very active stick at both ends and very active feet that help him contain the attack. Thinks the game at a high level and is a potential top four, two-way defender. Size is his only drawback."

112. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Rasmus Kupari - Forward
Previously mentioned, the Hounds used their second import pick on another top prospect heading into the 2018 NHL Draft; Rasmus Kupari. Kupari is a talented two-way center who played at the U17's and at the U18's (as an underager) this year. I thought he was noticeable at the U18's as a depth player for the Silver medalist Finns. Unfortunately it looks like he's staying in Finland next year with the Karpat program. Again, still early so lots of time for him to change his mind. He sounds like the perfect player for the Greyhounds program.
Scouting Report: Marco Bambino of McKeen's and the awesome FinnProspects, says, "Rasmus Kupari is a versatile two-way center with a lot of potential. He's a powerful skater with good edge work, mobility and quickness in his first few strides. He works hard away from the puck, being consistently strong on the forecheck. He takes away passing lanes effectively from opponents. A highly intelligent and responsible player defensively. He has poise, skill and awareness with the puck. Has quick hands, handles the puck well at top speed and shows puck protection skill along the boards. His offensive game seemed to get better throughout the past season and he played really well in the U20 league playoffs. He is signed with Kärpät in Finland until 2019, but would be an excellent add to the Greyhounds in the OHL. Kupari will be a top pick in the 2018 NHL Draft."

BONUS - Barrie Colts - Alexei Lipanov - Forward
I thought I would include a report on Lipanov here, considering he's signed to come over and play with the Colts after being drafted in last year's Import Draft. He was a 3rd rounder of the Tampa Bay Lightning this year (although fell in the draft as he was ranked in the early second by most scouting agencies). This Barrie Colts franchise sure has turned around their rebuild pretty quickly.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations had Lipanov as the 43rd ranked prospect for 2017 and said, "Lipanov is a speedy, slick puckhandler who is an explosive skater. His understanding of the offensive zone and on the ice is impressive. He is also a tenacious forechecker and a solid defensive player who can use his body to separate his check from the puck. He is still quite lanky so will need to add considerable strength, but he possesses sky high upside." The Hockey News had Lipanov ranked 42nd heading into the draft and said, "First jumped on the radar at the World Junior A challenge where he paired with Andrei Svechnikov to help the team to Bronze. An Igor Larianov type of player who is a playmaker, good on faceoffs and a solid team guy. He has high end hockey sense."

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