Tuesday, July 2, 2019

2019 CHL Import Draft Review

On Thursday, June 27, 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.

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 Adam Boqvist), they receive the opportunity to add another player to their protected list to cover should that first round import (like Boqvist) make the pro level. 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 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%) 

In 2017
18 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (72%)
16 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (64%)
10 of 25 (open for debate) had a significant impact on their OHL teams (40%) 

In 2018
24 of 27 players selected came to the OHL (88%)
20 of 27 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (74%)
10 of 27 (open for debate) of the 28 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (37%)

Of course this article wouldn't have been possible without the help of these experts:
Jimmy Hamrin (@jimmyhamrin)
Dennis Schellenberg (@ScoutingFactory)
Viktor Fomich (@RUSProspects)
Chapin Landvogt (@Csomichapin)
Marco Bombino (@marco_bombino)
Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst)
Czech Prospects (@CZprospects)
Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen)
Thomas Roost (@thomasroost)
Christoffer Hedlund (@ChrHedlund)
Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen)

Here are the reports:

2. Kingston Frontenacs - Martin Chromiak - Left Wing
The Frontenacs needed to hit a home run with this second overall import selection in order to add even more skill to their lineup this coming season. And for all intents and purposes, it looks like they have. Chromiak is a top prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft. He already saw action in the Slovakian men's league this year as a 16 year old. And he suited up for Slovakia as an underager at both the Hlinka and the U18's, performing very admirably at both events to boot. This definitely looks like a potential linemate for Shane Wright this year and moving forward.

Scouting Report:  
Jimmy Hamrin says, "Martin Chromiak stood out at the U18's, consistently had some strong plays. He has good skating and individual skills. He scored a great shorthanded goal that I saw, came in on the left side with his right shot, he faked a shot and scored high on Rowe’s glove side against the U.S. He has been putting up good numbers in their U20 league so he looks interesting for next years draft." 

Steve Kournianos says, "Martin Chromiak is a speedy Slovakian winger with a powerful stride who scores goals in a variety of ways. He owns a nasty wrister that he can wire off the rush with maximum velocity, but his slapper off the pass also gives goalies the shakes. He stays in constant motion with the hammer cocked, and he seems to anticipate puck travel well enough to minimize the time it takes between pass and shot execution. Chromiak is not only a goal scorer, however, as he is utilized in all situations and can dominate the puck in the possession games. He also has very good vision and passing skills, and his decision-making and execution during odd-man rushes is advanced for his age. Chromiak is versatile on both special teams and improved his defensive-zone play as the season progressed."


5. Flint Firebirds - Yevgeni Oksentyuk - Winger
This is more than just a favour to Vladislav Kolyachonok, to bring in a fellow Belarussian to Flint. Oksentyuk was a star at the most recent U18's, where, along with Kolyachonok, he helped Belarus make the quarterfinals. He finished the tournament as Belarus' leading scorer. While this did not help him get drafted in this year's NHL draft, it did obviously put him on the map for the Import Draft. He's certainly small (at 5'7), but he was extremely noticeable at the U18's, certainly catching my eye with his skating ability, consistent energy level, and skill with the puck. I am very excited to see how he fits into Flint's plans this year.

Scouting Report: 
Dennis Schellenberg says, "Oxentyuk is a gifted offensive catalyst who plays with a lot of energy and a high work rate and compete level. Quick on skates and with explosive strides, he is an exciting player to watch who can combine speed and skill. Loves to play an active game with the puck on his stick. Can use his quick hands and good puckhandling skills to create havoc offensively. Needs to add to his frame, which will make him more effective in physical battles." 

8. Erie Otters - Marat Khusnutdinov - Forward
One of the top 2002 players in Russia, the Otters certainly swung for the fences in selecting Khusnutdinov. He was a star at the U17's, where he helped Russia capture the gold medal, and suited up at the U18's too, where he was also noticeable. Unfortunately, it sounds like he wishes to stay in Russia for his draft year. But it is still early in the recruiting process and anything can obviously happen (especially when we're talking about the world of the CHL Import Draft).

Scouting Report
Viktor Fomich says, "Khusnutdinov is a top prospect, already made the U18 WJC this year despite being a year younger, He is a rather smallish center (yet pretty stocky built), got very good hands and really can skate."

11. Barrie Colts - Arturs Silovs - Goaltender
Large goaltender (6'4, 200lbs) who was a 6th round pick by the Vancouver Canucks in 2019. The Latvian netminder performed well in the notorious Riga program this year and was a standout at the U18's too (which likely helped him get drafted). After dealing Kai Edmonds, and the failure of Maksim Zhukov last year, it is surprising to me that Barrie took a goaltender. I figured that they would be handing off the reigns to Jet Greaves. But, ultimately having a strong tandem is never a bad thing and this could push Greaves to be better in the long run, or at the very least give Barrie more options for consistency between the pipes.

Scouting Report:
Jimmy Hamrin says, "Silovs has quick feet and moves well across the crease. He is fast in getting up and down and in changing position. He is acrobatic, smooth and has good athleticism. Butterfly style with an aggressive touch to it. He plays high in the crease as his standard position with about 3-4 inches to the top of the goal crease and in. His positioning for the first shot is good, but his aggressiveness can give him some trouble on the second shot. He plays calm but can get very aggressive to the shooter which can help make a strong save and with his speed he is strong on shots from near range and in front of him. Something that really stands out in his game is his glove hand. He has a fast glove hand and can make spectacular saves with it. I was more impressed by him than most of European goalies I have seen for the 2019 NHL Draft."

14. Windsor Spitfires - Ruben Rafkin - Defense
Rafkin is one of those Import selections...who isn't necessarily an Import. He has already been playing in North America for several years, although does suit up for Finland internationally. Last year he played with Tri-City of the USHL and performed quite admirably for a 16 year old defender in that league (10 points, 90 PIM in 38 games). He recently had his rights traded to Lincoln and he does have a commitment to the University of Denver. So his arrival to Windsor is far from a sure thing. But, if they can get him, he could be a big part of their blueline in the future, as he is considered a potential top 2 round selection in 2020.

Scouting Report:
Jokke Nevalainen says, "An average-sized two-way defenseman who likes to play a physical brand of hockey. A good puck-mover who isn't afraid to join the rush, and he has a powerful shot as well." 

Lassi Alanen says, "Rafkin has been highly-touted Finn in his age group for a long time and left to play in North America when he was 14 years old. He plays a solid two-way game, creating breakout opportunities with his skating and skill. His first few steps and top speed are both pretty good and he does have above-average puck skills for a defenceman. Rafkin has a heavy shot from the point. He plays with an edge and is rather physical in his own end." 

Marco Bombino says, "I have only seen Rafkin in international tournaments where he has consistently stood out. He moves the puck well up the ice and gives smart, simple enough passes to the forwards. He has a heavy slap shot with good wind up and velocity. What I really like about Rafkin is his competitiveness. He delivers heavy hits, he's not afraid to play rough and has a strong physical presence. He is versatile and can do a little bit of everything."

17. Sarnia Sting - Eric Hjorth - Defense
6'3 defender who was a 4th round selection by Columbus in this year's NHL draft. He barely played this past year due to a knee injury, but in 2017/18, his production was actually eerily similar to #11 overall selection Victor Soderstrom. So this could prove to be a very savvy selection by the Sting.

Scouting Report:
Jimmy Hamrin says, "Only played a handful of games last season. Tall, agile with good vision. Nothing spectacular and no clear elite weapons but a solid puck-mover with good reach. Has a good shot as well."

Christoffer Hedlund says, "Hjorth is an offensive defenseman with a big frame that missed almost the whole last season due to a knee injury. Despite his size Hjorth is still quite mobile, he has good first steps with the puck which helps him around the offensive blue line. His acceleration is also above average and once he has some speed is very hard to knock off the puck due to his size and strength. He uses his skating well to generate offense as he can both lead and join the rush, it’s not uncommon to see him as the first player to enter the offensive zone. He also has a knock for joining as the second wave to be able to skate into more ice before shooting or making a play. Hjorth mostly uses his wrist shot when he shoots, and it’s a good one; he quickly pulls the puck back to give his release more power and he is often able to combine that with good precision. Hjorth’s wrist shot enables him to beat the goaltender from far out but also a bit further into the zone, as he sometimes leaves the blue line in order to create odd man advantages closer to the slot. His slap shot from the point is very heavy and something that he should utilize more than he currently does. Hjorth is also a decent playmaker, he has good hands for a defenseman of his size and his puck skills are also above average, so he is able to create time and space for himself to make passing lanes open up. The best part of his passing game is his accurate first pass from the defensive zone, with it he can quickly start the transition game for his team and it’s not uncommon for him to create odd man rushes for his team all the way from his own zone. In his own zone Hjorth is no slouch either, with his size and mobility he can put good pressure on the puck holder, and he is strong along the boards and in front of his own net. He could work on his positional play and awareness while playing in his own zone. It’s also important to note that due to his injury this season Hjorth has barely played against competition older than 18 years old, so he might require some time to transition his game to playing against older and more developed opponents."

20. Hamilton Bulldogs - Jan Mysak - Left Wing
Mysak is considered to be one of the top prospects eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft, and a potential first round pick. The Czech native played primarily in the Czech men's league this year as a 16 year old and did exceptionally well. His production there compares favorably to guys like Pavel Zacha, Radek Bonk, and Michal Frolik. Mysak was also a standout at this year's U18's as an underager. I am sure Hamilton is hoping to use fellow country man Jan Jenik to help them recruit him.

Scouting Report:
Czech Prospects says, "Mysak has a good shot (accuracy, timing), vision, puckhandling skills, great hockey sense, getting himself into a good positions without puck, sees the ice well, can lead his team’s offense. He has solid frame for a player his age. Showed his offensive skills among men this season, put up some points in Extraliga. Missed two months due to injury, but it didn’t slowed him. Needs to work on his skating skills - agility, acceleration." 

Future Considerations, who has Mysak ranked 35th for the 2020 NHL Draft, says "One of the most promising prospects out of the Czech Republic leading up to the 2020 NHL Draft, Mysak displays great vision and can handle the puck nicely thanks to his good hands and playmaking abilities. He needs to work on his overall skating skills. There are some different elements to improve on there. Although his top speed is already decent, he can still work on his agility and acceleration. He understands the game well and displays great hockey sense. Without the puck, he gets himself into good positions for scoring chances and sees open ice well. He has a solid frame for a player his age and shows the ability to drive offensive rushes. He possesses a good shot in both accuracy and timing."

23. North Bay Battalion - Martin Hugo Has - Defense
Outside of having one of the best names of any draft eligible player this year, Hugo Has is a big defender (6'4) who was a 5th round pick of Washington. Czech born, Hugo Has has played the last few years in Finland, so he's already no stranger to playing away from home. He has performed very well for the Czech national team over the last few years and would likely jump right into North Bay's top 3 defenders should he report. The only issue is that Hugo Has recently signed an extension to stay in Finland with Tappara. So it will likely take some pressure from his draft team, the Washington Capitals, for Hugo Has to come to the OHL.

Scouting Report:
Lassi Alanen says, "Has’ D -1 season with Tappara’s U20 team was excellent but I didn’t see desired progression in his game last season. He has intriguing physical tools (6-foot-4) and utilizes his size well but lacks high-end offensive attributes. His shot from the point is very heavy, though, and he plays pretty responsible two-way game." 

Jokke Nevalainen says, "A big two-way defenseman who is very raw but has good potential. He has decent speed but needs to improve his agility and acceleration. He likes to join the rush and use his powerful shot but isn't overly creative offensively and doesn't have great passing skills either." 

Marco Bombino says, "I liked the way Has played at the U18 World Championship in April. I thought he was the number one defenseman for the Czech team and he clearly made in impact at both ends of the ice. He can move the puck with crisp, accurate passes and his heavy shot is a real threat from the point. Needs to work on his skating - mobility, acceleration and balance all require improvement. Has is quite solid in the defensive zone and his long reach is an asset. I would like to see better defensive anticipation at times, though."

26. Owen Sound Attack - Stepan Machacek - Forward
The Attack took Czech forward Stepan Machacek, a late birthday 2002 (not eligible for the NHL Draft until 2021). He has already been named a candidate for the Czech Hlinka team this summer, which is obviously a promising sign as to his talent level. However, he did finish only 20th among U17 players in scoring in the Czech U19 league last year. You would obviously like to see slightly better production. 

Scouting Report:
Czech Prospects says, "Machacek is skilled player with playmaking ability. He always rather finds his teammates than shoots, his shot really needs to improve. He has a strong position game and he is very responsible defensively. I like his compete level and tenacity. He is strong on faceoffs and has a good size."


29. Peterborough Petes - David Maier - Defense
Well here's a familiar name! Maier was a member of the North Bay Battalion last year, but they relinquished his rights in order to select new players this year. At times, Maier found himself in North Bay's top four last year and profiles as a puck moving defender. While I would not hold out hope for him to break into Peterborough's top four defenders, he does represent a solid option as a puck mover on the third pairing who can also see secondary powerplay time. 

Scouting Report:
I can give a report on Maier here. His strength definitely lies in his ability to move the puck up ice. He skates quite well and can be a factor in transition, either by leading the rush or by jumping up in the play. Maier also shows a natural feel for quarterbacking the powerplay, even if his point shot is not a major threat. He sees the ice well from the point. Where Maier struggled was handling his defensive responsibilities. Plays too timid at times in the defensive end and lacks the strength to consistently win one on one battles in traffic. He also went through phases of lacking confidence in his offensive abilities, struggling with his decision making in his own end. There is definitely more potential for him to be a difference maker on offense. But he needs to be more assertive with the puck.

32. Mississauga Steelheads - Ole Bjorgvik Holm - Defense
Ironically, Bjorgvik Holm is in a similar position to Spitfires draft pick Rafkin, as a defender who played last year in North America who holds a commitment to the U of Denver. The Norwegian born blueliner has played for the Norway U18 team the last two years, as both a double underager and underager last year. Pretty impressive. In 2018/19, he played mostly for the Colorado Thunderbirds midget program, but did see a cup of coffee in the USHL with Tri-City (also Rafkin's team).

Scouting Report:
A scout who wishes to remain anonymous and who saw Holm with the Thunderbirds says, "In watching his midget games, I'd say he's a very smart and complete two-way player. I wouldn't say he has elite flash and skill but he is certainly a skilled player who makes plays with and without the puck. He's a tall, lean kid who will certainly benefit from adding some muscle and strength to his frame. Put up some gaudy numbers as a D ... not sure how he will handle not playing on a top PP unit, etc. Good gap control, really good stick on puck defender. Again, will all come down to how he adjusts to the speed of the OHL. Not much panic in his game at this level, not really in a hurry, pretty calm, calms down his partner."


35. Kitchener Rangers - Ville Ottavainen - Defense
Probably comes as no surprise to see the Rangers opt for a defender with their import selection, as it fills a hole in their lineup. Ottavainen is a Finnish defender who plays in the Karpat organization and put up some pretty solid numbers overseas and has been named to the preliminary Finnish roster for this summer's Hlinka/Gretzky. Remains to be seen what he can bring to the table.

Scouting Report:
Lassi Alanen says, "Ottavainen was Kärpät U18 team’s top defenceman as Kasper Puutio and Topi Niemelä played with the U20 team for the most part. I got the vibe that he plays bigger than his size would suggest. His defensive play at the U18 level was solid and he can make a good opening pass. Notable release. I need to see more of him to get a better read on his offensive upside." 

Marco Bombino says, "Ottavainen was one of the many standouts on a very strong Kärpät team which finished second in the Finnish U18 league in the past season. He is a well-rounded right-shot defenseman with good offensive skills. Both his slap shot and wrister feature good power and accuracy. He can start the attack with long and precise diagonal passes from his own end. He started to be more active in the offensive zone as the season progressed. He plays a stable physical game along the boards and in front of the net, competes in every shift. He is a decent skater with good mechanics and balance, could add quickness to his first few strides, though."

38. Guelph Storm - Andrei Bakanov - Forward
If you recall, Bakanov attempted to make himself eligible for the 2018 OHL priority selection, along with fellow countryman and eventual Storm pick Daniil Chayka. But his application was denied and he played in the USHL this year with Cedar Rapids as a 16 year old. Previously, Matt Grainda had some very positive things to say in our draft primer for 2018 (found here). Even though he does have a commitment to the U of Michigan, I would be shocked if Bakanov did not report to the OHL next year.

Scouting Report
Steve Kournianos says, "Andrei Bakanov is a big-bodied winger with a ton of skill who had a rough rookie season with Cedar Rapids. His shot is his money maker, and he skates and stickhandles very well for his size. The main issues are his intensity and compete level, as he relies far too much on his puck skills without venturing inside more often or winning the tough battles along the wall or in the low slot. He spent most of the season on the fourth line and saw his power-play time decrease. A change of scenery may help him, especially in a draft year."


41. Sudbury Wolves - Frederik Dichow - Goaltender
Well...it worked last year right? A 6'5 netminder from Denmark, Dichow was a 5th round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in this year's NHL draft on the back of a strong performance at the second division U18's where he was named the event's top goaltender. The Wolves have to be hoping that Dichow can fill the large void left by UPL and help get this team back near the top of the Eastern Conference standings this year.

Scouting Report:
There is some terrific information from "Habs Eyes on the Prize," where they spoke to Jimmy Boejgaard, a Danish commentator (found here). He says,”he is a big goalie and that’s the reason that he is one of our young goalies that we believe most in. Together with Mads Søgaard, they are the two guys we believe will be best to back up or follow Freddie Andersen. Boejgaard says that his strongest quality is that he is very strong mentally and is a “good kid” with his feet on the ground.”


44. Oshawa Generals - Oliver Suni - Forward
Suni, a 2002 born forward from Finland, would be potentially a great add for the Oshawa Generals this coming year. He is considered to be one of the better talents in the '02 age group in Finland (currently ranked 79th by Future Considerations for 2020) and could definitely fit into the top 9 of a strong Generals group next year.

Scouting Report:
Lassi Alanen says, "Another player from Kärpät U18, Suni is a big-bodied winger with a good release and vision. He reads the game well and is often in the right position in the offensive zone. Suni’s skating is a bit of an issue for me as his stride is a bit heavy and his speed is nothing special. Despite that he produced at a high level last season." 

Jokke Nevalainen says, "An offensive winger with decent size. He has a strong and accurate shot but he's also a good playmaker with good vision. Uses his size well to protect the puck." 

Marco Bombino says, "Suni has been one of the top 2002 born Finnish forwards for already quite some time. He is a talented goal-scorer with a very good, heavy shot. The release is quick and he can pick his spots well. His passing is precise in all three zones, he sees the ice well and uses his teammates effectively. He's strong and uses his body well to protect the puck. He needs improve his skating and speed. With more explosiveness, he would be able to pull away from opponents and create more separation. All things considered, I think Suni could be a very good add to the Generals next season."


47. Niagara IceDogs - Giancarlo Chanton - Defense
No, the IceDogs did not draft the power hitting New York Yankees outfielder. But they did select a Swiss defender who looks like he could be a quality addition. A late birthday who is not eligible until 2021 in the NHL, Chanton served as the captain of the Swiss U17 program this year and played at the U18's as well (one of only two defenders to do so, along with Acadie-Bathurst 3rd overall pick Noah Delemont). 

Scouting Report:
Thomas Roost says, "Giancarlo Chanton is probably the best SUI d-men of his age-group... ok, this age group is actually very bad, but still... I like him even more than No.3-taken Noah Delémont, I was very high on Delémont 2 years ago but since then his learning-curve was very flat. Coming back to Chanton: He is good in transition, good puck-mover, solid passer and also has the eye for the spectacular break-out pass. He is pretty smart and takes usually the right decisions. However, he is not high-end skilled and also not a high-end skater and he is a bit undersized and def. "understrengthed" he can get overpowered too easy too many times. I think he will be good in Major Junior but probably not spectacular." 


50. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Nick Malik - Goaltender
Another goaltender, and quite frankly, not shocking to see the Greyhounds grab a top flight one to hopefully be their starter this year after the graduation of Matthew Villalta. And they got a good one. Nick Malik has long been considered one of the top 2002 born goaltenders in the world. He is the son of former NHL'er Marek Malik, and former OHL'er Zach Malik. He already played pro in the Czech second league last year and should be able to come in and have a big impact for the Greyhounds in his NHL draft year.

Scouting Report:
Czech Prospects says, "He’s a big athletic goalie. He is fast on his feet and has great reflexes. What impresses me most about Malik is his stick work. He wants to play a lot with the puck and he’s doing pretty good job. This season he was gaining experience in Frydek (CZE-2) and he was great as a 16-year-old goalie. At the end of the season he came back to Trinec and was superb in the Czech U19 league’s playoffs, as he led his team to the title. He made 58 saves in the first of two final games against Sparta."

53. Saginaw Spirit - Ilya Solovyov - Defense
The Spirit, hoping to challenge for an OHL championship next year, opt for an older player at this year's Import draft. Solovyov is a 2000 born who has experience after playing in the Belarussian men's league this past season. He was also a member of the Belarussian World Championship team as a 19 year old, the youngest defender on the team by four years. I'm sure Saginaw is hoping that with his age, he can come in and be an impact player right away.

Scouting Report
Tough to track down a scouting report on Solovyov, but here's what Dave Drinkill had to say (in an article here), “One of the things that attracted us to Ilya was the fact that he played against men in the World Championships this past spring. We felt like we needed to add a veteran defenseman to our group. We are excited to bring Ilya to Saginaw, and get him started with us in training camp.” Additionally, here's a great video from youtube on Solovyov.

56. London Knights - Kirill Steklov - Defense
This is an odd one for me. I expected London to go after a player with a higher profile. Instead, we have Steklov. He was not a member of the U17 team for Russia that won gold last year, but he does have good size. Steklov is listed at 6'4 and the hope is that he can come in and take a spot on a rebuilt London Knights blueline, so long as Adam Boqvist turns pro as anticipated.

Scouting Report: 
Tough to get any information on Steklov, but here's what Mark Hunter had to say in an article by Ryan Pyette (found here), “He’s a young man who can skate, has good size and sure looks like the package,” GM Mark Hunter said. “We’ve watched him and saw lots of video on him. He’s kind of like (former Knight and NHL first-rounder Nikita) Zadorov. He can make good plays and move pucks. He’s a good defenceman.”


62. Kingston Frontenacs - Vitali Pinchuk - Center
With their second selection in the Import Draft, the Frontenacs went to Belarus to select Pinchuk, a 2002 born center who was a standout at the U18's with Belarus (I feel like a broken record saying that) as an underager, named as one of the team's three best players. To put it in perspective, only Lucas Raymond and Alex Holtz had more goals than Pinchuk as U17 players at the event. Seems like a potentially savvy selection to me.

Scouting Report:
Dennis Schellenberg says, "Pinchuk’s biggest strengths are his skating and creativity. Is an overall good skater, who is mobile and displays good top speed. Likes to have the puck and plays an active game in the offensive zone. Takes the puck into high-traffic areas and can show nice dangles and moves while keep maintaining puck possession. Great in splitting opposing defences while taking the puck directly to the net. Possesses good hockey IQ and understanding of the game. Needs to gain strength. One of the better 02-born Belarussian players." 


71. Barrie Colts - John-Jason Peterka - Forward
This one screams "next year," to me. I believe the Colts intend to go with Matej Pekar and Arturs Silovs as their Imports. Peterka is considered to be a solid prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft and could be a stash away, someone that Barrie could convince to come over next year to play in the OHL at the direction of the NHL team that drafts him. A German, Peterka has played in the Red Bull Salzburg program the last two years, a very prestigious program. In the Czech U19 league, Peterka led the league in scoring. His numbers for that team compare favorably to a guy like Jeremy McKenna, who was the 4th leading scorer in the QMJHL this past year. Peterka also finished 4th in scoring at the second division U18's as an underager, helping Germany advance to the main group next year. 

Scouting Report:
Thomas Roost says, "I'm pretty high on Peterka, at this point I give him 2nd-round NHL-potential. He tries to be open all the time and this is one reason why he is a good scorer. He works hard off the ice and wants to improve all the time. He is definitely a guy who goes this extra mile. He has decent or even good skills and also improved his skating what was always a question-mark with him. He is pretty fast now on the move but has some problems with "stop and go", The defensive part is also an area to improve, he acts too often too optimistic when he doesn't have the puck."

Chapin Landvogt says, "I've seen him play for the U18 and I've gotta say, I really like him. Still growing, still very average in size, this kid has some real sizzle in his game. I like his creativity and his pension for making moves when should deke or dishing off the puck when it's called for. Great understanding for putting pressure on defenses and creating offensive opportunities. Skating in tight corners/areas as well as in a straight line are strengths, although he's not a speed demon. He might actually be faster with the puck than without it. He likes to have the puck and was his team's key PP player, generating offense from behind the opposition net or on the right faceoff circle. Still, he has much to learn about the all-round game and still needs to grow. He's played at a fairly high level (with Salzburg in the Czech U19 league), but he has had a very offensive role the whole time. Very possible that an OHL coach would have spend a lot of time teaching him other aspects. Thus, other aspects of the game, primarily without the puck." 

Czech Prospects says, "Peterka was absolutely a beast in the Czech U19 league. Big offensive threat, very skilled with the puck. He has a good speed and vision. He can make plays, he can shoot, he has good hockey sense and playmaking ability. I really like him. He is a smaller forward and needs to add size. I’m curious to see how he will succeed next season among men in the DEL (if he chooses that direction)."


77. Sarnia Sting - Marek Berka - Left Wing
With their second selection, the Sting grab Berka, a 2001 born forward who went undrafted in the NHL this year. He was ranked 97th by NHL Central Scouting among European skaters. He averaged a point per game in the Czech U19 league, playing for the same Litvinov program as Hamilton Bulldogs draft pick Jan Mysak (although Mysak put up significantly better numbers in limited action despite being a year younger). To give you an idea, Greyhounds draft pick in 2018 Roman Pucek put up better numbers in the same league (well effectively, as the league was U19 this year instead of U18 previously) and was not successful in the OHL. Take that for what it's worth.

Scouting Report:
Czech Prospects says, "Berka is a player with a lot of potential. He is a great skater and goal scorer, has pretty solid accurate shot, could be deadly if he gets himself into a good position. He is skilled and competitive, he could be also used as a two-way forward thanks to his speed, but he needs to add some muscles to be more competitive against bigger stronger opponents. 

Steve Kournianos (from his draft guide) says, "An explosive skater who is a threat to score every time he hits the ice. Rather than low percentage shots from the angle, Berka exploits the room he is consistently afforded by attacking inside and changing direction to the middle. He plays bigger than his size and is by no means a perimeter player. He also works hard on the backcheck and will win races to the puck on the forecheck."

83. North Bay Battalion - Niki Korpialho - Forward
This is another pick that looks like a long shot to stick. A Finnish 2002 born forward, Korpialho was 42nd in his Finnish U18 league in U17 scoring this year and was not named to the recent preliminary Finnish roster for the Hlinka/Gretzky. 

Scouting Report:
Marco Bombino says, "I have been following Korpialho's development for the last three seasons and his game improved towards the end of the past season. He skates very well for a player of his size, he has good speed, agility and he plays with pace. Decent hockey sense, needs to work on decision making. Has some puck skills and a good wrist shot, can find the back of the net. There may not be a ton of offensive potential in his game, but he moves well and has strong on-ice work ethic."


86. Owen Sound Attack - Julian Straub - Forward
The second round of the Import Draft can often be similar to throwing darts at the board and this is another one that seems unlikely to stick given the pedigree. Straub did not suit up for Germany Internationally this year, failing to make the Germany U18 team despite being a 2001 born. So if he's not considered one of the top 12-13 forwards in his age group in Germany, can he really make an impact in the OHL? It certainly seems unlikely. Although he does have a late birthday, so perhaps he is a late bloomer.

Scouting Report:
None of my German contacts had info on Straub (not necessarily the best sign). Here is what Dale DeGray had to say (in this article): "He’s a good skater, he’s big, he plays a heavy game and most importantly he scores. He’s got good skills and he should be coming up on the radar for NHL teams.”


92. Mississauga Steelheads - Lucas Raymond - Right Wing
I mean, if you know the guy you're going to draft in the second round is not likely to be an OHL contributor, why not shoot for the stars? Raymond is a potential top 3 selection for the 2020 NHL Draft and is considered one of the top young forwards in the world. He led Sweden to U18 gold as an underager this year and would be one heck of a recruit for the future. But, unfortunately this seems extremely unlikely to happen. Raymond is scheduled to play with Frolunda of the SHL in his draft year and may step right into the NHL the year after that. Still worth the gamble though.

Scouting Report:
Jimmy Hamrin says, "A junior superstar. Haven't done a report yet but it'll look something like this: Skating: 60/65, Shot: 60, Skills: 65/70, Smarts 65, Physicality: 50. Besides his size he stands out in every asset. Drives the play, work/compete hard, reads the offensive game and is a strong playmaker with a dangerous wrist shot. On a power play he can be both the setup-player as well as the finisher. High in both intensity and creativity. I think he can be a regular in SHL or a top line player in Allsvenskan, but if he goes to CHL he's a 100 point player." 

Christoffer Hedlund says, "Lucas Raymond is the next superstar-prospect coming out of Sweden, this year he dominated Swedish junior hockey and also scored a hat trick in the final when Sweden won the gold at the U18 World Championship. He is an offensive catalyst that can carry a whole line on his shoulders, and he has the ability to win games all by himself. It isn’t one or two aspects of Raymond’s game that makes him great, there are so many different parts of his game that stands out. His skating is phenomenal; he explosive, has great acceleration and high top speed but he is also agile and very hard to catch no matter which speed he is playing at. He is also a skilled stickhandler, with great puck control that still has a great motor, very high work-rate and always gives his full effort. He is a phenomenal playmaker that can make fantastic and creative plays to set up his teammates, and he combines that with a deadly wrist shot that is as powerful as it is precise. He can score from up close and from far out, but if a defender tries too much to stop him from shooting Raymond will instantly take advantage of that and make a pass instead, his diversity makes him incredibly hard to defend against. With his puck handling and bursts of speed in the offensive zone Raymond can dictate the pace of the game to fully take advantage of the situation he is in. On top of it all Raymond has extremely high competitiveness, he plays like he always wants to win and when the stakes get higher, he becomes even better. It’s no coincidence that Raymond is the one that continually steps up for his team, whether it is in J18, J20 or against international competition he is the one that often is the difference-maker in the important games. Raymonds high work-rate and competitiveness helps him when he is off the puck as well, he works hard on the forecheck and to win the puck back if it is lost in the offensive zone and he is rarely seen floating when the game turns, instead he is often working hard on the backcheck. His major weakness is his lack of upper body strength and his size, as he can struggle along the boards or if a bigger defender manages to catch him or pin him up against the boards."

95. Kitchener Rangers - Axel Bergkvist - Defender
Another defender for the Rangers, this one much older and experienced. Bergkvist, a 2000 born blueliner, was a 7th round pick by Arizona in this year's NHL draft. He's undersized at 5'9, but he put up some impressive numbers in the Allsvenskan this year (similar to Philip Broberg, although a year older) and his experience playing against men would definitely help him transition to the OHL. However, after helping Leksands get promoted back to the SHL, one would have to wonder if he would give up playing in a pro league for the OHL. This would likely take a fair amount of pressure from Arizona to happen.

Scouting Report:
Jimmy Hamrin says, "Older player, played well against men this season. Good offensive instincts, a good sneaky shot. Small, and not that fast but smart in the offensive zone. Not consistent defensively and his mobility could use some work. Could score a ton in the CHL."

Christoffer Hedlund says, "Bergkvist is an offensive defenseman that has his main strengths in the offensive zone. Unlike many modern offensive-minded defenseman Bergkvist isn’t a puck mover, as his skating is far from the best part of his game. Instead, Bergkvist excels on the offensive blue line; he has a diverse slapshot that can be swift and powerful but also with less power but much more precise and his wrist shot has a good release and almost always seem to find its way through traffic. Bergkvist utilizes his wrist shot more than his slapshot, before shooting he often takes a few steps down from the blue line and if it is possible, he uses the blocking forward as a screen to give the goalkeeper less time to react to the shot. He reads the game well from his position on the blue line and can often be able to find a bit of open space to become available for a pass. But there’s more to Bergkvist’s offensive game than just his shot, he has above-average vision, sees the ice well in the offensive zone and can spot teammates that are changing position to set them up with the puck. One thing Bergkvist should improve is his first pass from the defensive zone, sometimes he rushes his decision and makes poor plays which can lead to his team losing possession while trying to set up the play from behind. Defensively Bergkvist isn’t great, and he struggled at times in Allsvenskan (tier 2 in Sweden) but he isn’t a huge liability in his own zone either. He occasionally makes minor mistakes and he can become too passive, not moving his feet enough and leave a too big gap between himself and his opponents while defending, thus losing control of the situation. He is decent around his own net and rarely gets caught of his position and works actively with his stick to close passing lanes or to poke the puck off his opponents stick."


98. Guelph Storm - Roman Bychkov - Defense
Bychkov is another NHL drafted player, who went in the 5th round to Boston this year. Looking to replace Dmitri Samorukov, Bychkov played for Russia at the Hlinka/Gretzky and at the World Junior A Challenge. A 5'11 puck mover, Bychkov was in the top 5 of defender scoring by U18 players in the MHL this year and won a Championship with Loko Yaroslavl. 

Scouting Report:
Viktor Fomich says, "Bychkov moves with a good overall stride and agility, although his acceleration and explosiveness is not there yet and should be a focal point of his ongoing development and training. Bychkov doesn't have the most powerful shot, but he is good at getting pucks through to the net. He is very comfortable at carrying the puck and distributing it to his teammates, a vital component of the modern transition game. Bychkov plays a high-IQ game. He is calm under pressure, and doesn't make too many mistakes in his own zone. Overall, he is a smart defenseman with the potential to be a puckmover on a second pairing in the NHL without being a headache on his own end." 


101. Sudbury Wolves - Kalle Loponen - Defense
A 7th rounder by the Toronto Maple Leafs this year, Loponen played the majority of this year in Mestis, the Finnish 2nd pro league. He also played for Finland at the U18's (although after their disastrous performance at the event, I'm not sure that is something worth bragging about). Under contract to Karpat for next year, one would have to wonder if Kyle Dubas works his magic to get him in Sudbury next year, given his love for the OHL.

Scouting Report: 
Jokke Nevalainen says, "A smallish offensive defenseman who loves to join the rush. Good on the power play where he can utilize his powerful shot. A very good skater but isn't the most dynamic player with the puck. Needs to improve his defensive game." 

Lassi Alanen says, "Maple Leafs selected Loponen in the 7th round this summer and I thought he was good value at that spot. He played in the second pro league in Finland and put up decent counting stats. Loponen’s skating is good and he can open up passing lanes with it or carry the puck by himself. His shot from the point is very heavy and he played rather physically against men last season, laying open-ice hits occasionally. He needs to refine his defensive game which got him in trouble against men last season. He’ll be a power play weapon in the OHL next season." 

Marco Bombino says, "Loponen is a mobile, offensive-minded defenseman who moves the puck well and likes to jump into the rush. He moves very well laterally at the point and he's adept at creating space for himself to shoot or distribute the puck. He played with a lot of confidence in Finland's second highest league, the same way as he did in juniors. I think Toronto got great value in the 7th round of the NHL Draft and I firmly believe that Loponen will be an impact player in the OHL if he reports." 


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