On Canada Day, Friday July 1, 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 they receive the opportunity to add another player to their protected list to cover should that first round import 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, having a player signed to an NHL contract on your list, etc). It is a pretty complicated process.
With the banning of Russian/Belarussian players from the draft this year (unless already in the league or on a protected list), it seemed like many OHL teams opted to pass and stay the course with their previous imports or players on their protected lists. This is especially true of the second round. When we look at last year's selections, several could join the league this upcoming season such as Filip Mesar KIT) and Julian Lutz (SSM). For more information on last year's crop, check out last year's review (found here). Given that many teams won't know what to expect from so many of their players, predicting how imports succeed next year seems very difficult.
Let's check out the data on the last five Import Drafts.
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%)
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) had a significant impact on their OHL teams (37%)
22 of 28 players selected came to the OHL (79%)
20 of 28 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (71%)
10 of 28 (open for debate) had a significant impact on their OHL teams (36%)
14 of 23 players selected came to the OHL (61%)
11 of 23 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (48%)
7 of 23 (open for debate) had a significant impact on their OHL teams (30%)
17 of 27 players selected came to the OHL (63%)
16 of 27 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (59%)
8 of 27 (open for debate) had a significant impact on their OHL teams (30%)
As you can see, the pandemic and the concerns over the state of hockey in Ontario really caused the usual numbers to dip dramatically in the last two drafts. The question is...after a full season and a relative return to normal, will those numbers get back to normal too? Will the vast majority of selections come over this year? Interestingly enough, the percentage of impact players didn't really change which tells you that of the players mentioned in this piece, only 8-10 of them are likely to end up as truly impact players.
Of course this article wouldn't have been possible without the help of these experts:Chapin Landvogt (@Csomichapin)
Czech Prospects (@CZprospects)
Matej Deraj (@MatoDeraj)
Gabe Foley (@NHLFoley)
McKeen's Hockey (@mckeenshockey)
Here are the reports:
2. Saginaw Spirit - Martin Misiak
This selection certainly gives the Spirit some flexibility heading into the season. Misiak is a top flight prospect for next year's NHL draft and could be a potential impact player in the OHL. Of course, Saginaw already has two of those in Mintyukov and Sapovaliv. Would they be open to moving Sapovaliv, bringing in some assets, and then rolling with Misiak? Would they play a wait and see approach? If the team starts the year poorly again, do you use one of the imports as a trade chip and then bring Misiak in after the WJC's? Do you simply stash Misiak and try to bring him into the fold next year when Mintyukov ages out?
"As a big, offensive forward (6´2”), Mišiak uses his frame to screen in front of the net and get the rebounds, but he is no typical power forward and doesn´t engage much physically. He has great hands and puck control with the ability to make highlight plays. He is an active forechecker who can create chances for himself and his teammates. He also has a really good shot. As a late 2004-born, Mišiak is eligible for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. He spent the last year with HC Nové Zámky in the Slovak top tier league, scoring 10 points in 46 games. Mišiak has a signed contract for the next year as well. With Pavel Mintyukov and Matyáš Šapovaliv taking the two import spots, he seems unlikely to report for now." - Matej Deraj
5. Erie Otters - Ondrej Molnar
A first round candidate for next year's NHL draft, Molnar would be an exciting add for the Otters. A quick strike offensive player and pace pusher, Molnar is a big part of the Slovak hockey resurgence. Should he report, he would immediately become one of Erie's best offensive options...if not the best. He would be a great player to watch grow beside Malcolm Spence over the next few seasons.
"A truly exciting player to watch. Molnár is a fantastic skater with silky-smooth hands who is almost always one of the most dangerous players on the ice. He has a lot of confidence with the puck on the stick and creates a lot of chances. He is more of a playmaker than a shooter, but he can score himself very well. I love the tenacity and aggression he brings to his game, although he is not a physical menace (6´0”, 176 lbs), Molnár can be nasty at times. He didn´t show much in the Slovak top tier league, scoring only two assists in two seasons so far with limited ice time. This should be the year he makes a bigger step. One of the best 2023 prospects from Slovakia and a first-round candidate." - Matej Deraj
8. Sudbury Wolves - Jakub Chromiak
The younger brother of Kingston forward and import Martin Chromiak, Jakub is a highly touted defensive prospect not NHL draft eligible until 2024. His offensive potential is sky high and it seems fairly safe to say that he will report given the family ties to the OHL. Would love to see he and Matthew Mania develop together as puck movers over the next few years.
"Chromiak is a modern two-way defenseman who has especially good offensive skills. He is a 2024 eligible, but has already played nine games in the Slovak top tier league with Dukla Trenčín, getting a lot of ice time, including on the powerplay. He has an alright frame (5´11”, 183 lbs). Although he seems bigger on the ice and can take a hit, the physicality of fully-grown men did make him some trouble in Extraliga. He is a very good PP quarterback and puck distributor. There are things to work on in his game, mainly the defensive awareness, but he has a lot of potential. Most likely the best Slovak prospect from the 2024 class. Getting Chromiak is huge for Sudbury." - Matej Deraj
14. Sarnia Sting - Sandis Vilmanis
A good sized power winger, Vilmanis is a Latvian born player who has been playing out of Sweden. He is eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft and has a chance to be a top 100 selection. He excelled internationally for Latvia this year, performing well at the U20 qualifier and at the main group of the U18's a few months ago.
"An impressive combination of size, skill, and explosiveness makes Vilmanis a load for many defenders to handle as he attacks in transition and pushes his way towards the net. His top speed is impressive for a player of his ilk and he protects the puck well when attacking, showing soft hands, even at full speed. Playing out of Sweden and the Luleå program, this Latvian was a standout for Latvia internationally (especially at the U18’s), but also tied for the team lead with 18 goals (with Latvian teammate Dans Locmelis) in the J20. As a goal scorer, his potential is sound because of the aforementioned power in his stride, but also because he possesses a quick shot release and consistently finds the soft spots in coverage near the crease. Can the rest of Vilmanis’ game round out, making him a more multi-dimensional offensive option? When he is not able to beat defenders with pace, he becomes less visible and his two-way game and physical intensity levels are also inconsistent. We would love to see Vilmanis come over to the CHL next year, where his power game would be greatly appreciated. It is easy to see his game transitioning well to the small ice." - Brock Otten, McKeen's Draft Guide 2022
17. Peterborough Petes - Tommy Purdeller
An Italian forward who has played out of the Red Bull Academy in Austria the last four years, Purdeller is NHL draft eligible this year as an April 2004 born. Not really on the radar, he is likely hoping to change that by coming to the OHL. Purdeller played well in the AlpsHL this year as a U18 player, putting up over a point per game. This is a lower level pro league, but it's still against men. To give you an idea, former OHL'ers Anthony Salinitri and Remy Giftopoulos were at about the same point per game mark as Purdeller. It's also better than Francesco Pinelli and Francesco Arcuri performed when they played in the league during the pandemic.
"In a year where the Red Bull Juniors had four players clip at over a PPG pace in the AlpsHL, Purdeller was - along with Austria's Luca Auer - one of the two who is just now 18 years old. Thus, his 35 points and a +26 in 32 games was an impressive feat. There, he was more of a playmaker as his 24 set-ups attest. However, he's a very good-sized player who goes where it hurts and regularly drives the puck to the net. He's also shown himself to be adept at one-timers from the left side and will dipsy-doodle through traffic to create opportunities whenever he gets the chance. Internationally, his 5 points at the D2A U20 Worlds was good for second on the team while his 6 goals and 7 points in 5 D1A U18 Worlds games saw him finish 5th overall in that tournament. Those are lower level results, but he was a key for his nation in both events and his size and skill package combine to make him a potentially fascinating OHL player next season, should it come to that." - Chapin Landvogt
20. Ottawa 67's - Marco Kasper
This one caught me off guard. Yeah, there's a serious Austrian connection here. Vinzenz Rohrer played with Kasper internationally. However, I didn't see Kasper as an Import draft candidate given that he has already secured a solid role at the pro level in Sweden. The 67's made room for this selection by dealing Vsevolod Gaidamak to Niagara, so maybe there's something to this? If Kasper plays in the OHL next year, the potential top 10 NHL selection will undoubtedly be an immediate impact player. His presence would elevate the 67's to a contender in the East.
"What really makes Kasper a player who’s staring at a likely first round selection is the fact that despite very sound, but not necessarily overwhelming, overall skills in the chief categories of shooting, passing, skating, stickhandling, and hockey sense, he adds plenty of grit to whatever he’s doing on the ice. He’s a battle-ready kid who competes. You’ll find him digging and plugging away all around the ice, most happily near the opposition net, where he battles for position and has a keen sense of being in the right spot at the right time. Both his hand-eye coordination in steering deflections and his quick instincts in gaining rebounds make him a dangerous weapon around the goal. When he gets pucks in the opposition zone, he’s usually immediately thinking about how he’s best going to be getting them to the net. It’s just a straight-forward attack derivative that highlights his sometimes subtle game. In his minimal junior play with Rogle this season as well as all of his international outings for Austria, Kasper has been a mainstay on the power play, gaining time on both the right faceoff circle and in front of the net. He has been able to shine in both functions. If available, he’ll be Austria’s go-to, all-purpose offensive player for each of the upcoming WJCs this year. A dogged player with sound skating techniques, he’s shown his ability to move exceptionally well at the men’s level all season, often excelling at quick turns and in weaving through the neutral zone, down the boards and either to or around the goal in seeking out quick goal-scoring opportunities. When he doesn’t have the puck, he can be a hounding player who forces turnovers and sneaks up on puck-carriers biding their time. Kasper plays an intelligent game in all three zones, apt at using his stick to take away passing lines while strong at making himself open as a pass station option. What we don’t know about now is just how much offense he’ll be able to provide at the next level. Neither one-timers nor wristers nor slapshots are things he’s turned into his forte and while does plenty just fine, there’s not been a lot that just pops out at you production-wise. This may all just be a matter of continuing to mature. We may just be looking at a player who may not bring a whole lot of offense to the table down the line. He’ll help a team in a two-way capacity at some point one way or the other, so he remains a safe pick commodity for the team selecting him." - Chapin Landvogt, McKeen's Draft Guide 2022
23. Oshawa Generals - Kimo Gruber
A big center, Gruber has already cemented himself as one of the top '05's in the Swiss crop. He performed well in the Swiss U20 league this year as a U17 player and played a limited role for the Swiss at the Hlinka/Gretzky as an underager.
"Gruber is going to be a topic for the 2023 NHL draft and he's been living off what has been a highly effective wrist shot, both in Switzerland's junior leagues and in international play. Already over a PPG player in Switzerland's U20 league, albeit in a small sample size of 16 games, he spent the majority of this past season as a 16-year-old. A physically active player who can dig his shoulder into you, he's already got ideal size and a stocky build. To this point, he's been looking like a player who could very well enjoy the kind of CHL success similar to that of the Nino Niederreiters, Timo Meiers, and Nico Hischiers before him, but the proof will be in the pudding should he come over. His Swiss club Kloten has a pretty full roster at the moment." - Chapin Landvogt
26. Kitchener Rangers - Tomas Hamara
A standout at this year's U18's for Czechia, Hamara is an intelligent, two-way defender who would be able to step right into a top four role for the Rangers should he report. Hamara, a potential Top 75 selection at this year's NHL draft played out of Finland this year despite his Czech roots.
"A veteran of four seasons in Finland, the 6-foot, 185-pound Czech defender is best described as an all-round defenseman who shows a high IQ level in his approach to the game in all three zones, yet dominant in none. The 4-direction skater just completed his second straight outstanding season in Finland’s top U20 circuit while also managing to suit up for 26 total Liiga games with league champion Tappara. He topped off his season as the power play blueline specialist for a Czech team that fought for bronze at the U18 Worlds, picking up 8 assists in 6 games. Strong in patrolling the blueline, Hamara has a very accurate and deceptive wrist shot from the point and his shots are geared towards seeking out deflections and tips. His capable lateral movement opens up different vantage points and allows him to keep a variety of pucks in the opposition zone that may tend to get by your average defenseman. His first pass is accurate and can be fired long distances out of his zone. There’s a very high level of compete in Hamara’s defensive play and he engages a strong lower body to box off or pin up opponents in board and corner play. Nonetheless, he’s more likely to break up plays or rob pucks with clever stick play and pokechecks. There’s a good bit of “rover” in Hamara. When breaking out of his zone, he sees plenty of options in either correctly identifying a plausible pass station or simply pushing the play by bringing the puck into the opposition zone on his own accord. Alas, Hamara doesn’t really excel at any one thing. He has multiple tools and a good understanding of the game. Although competitive, he comes out on the short end as much as things work out for him. Teams will need to mull this over when deciding on selecting him. - Chapin Landvogt, McKeen's Draft Guide 2022
29. Barrie Colts - Eduard Sale
A top rated player for the 2023 NHL Draft, Sale is a player with a significant amount of hype heading into next season. Not only did he obliterate the Czech U20 league as a U17 player (he set the new league scoring record for a U17 player, beating out many quality current and former NHL players), but he also scored his first few pro goals in the Czech league and was a standout at the U18's as an underager. Getting him to report would be a massive get for the Colts.
"Eduard Šalé was dominant in the Czech U20 league this season, scoring at more than 2 points per game and more than a goal per game. And he did it as a 16-year-old. He’s a good skater with high hockey IQ and vision, he can pass, he can score, I like his creativity. Definitely first round talent for 2023." - Czech Prospects
32. Owen Sound Attack - Luc Schweingruber
Not that often you see 19/20 year old players selected in the draft, especially ones without NHL affiliation, but the Attack must like Schweingruber's potential to contribute immediately as a second or third pairing defender for them. They will already have Servac Petrovsky in the fold as an impact import, so improving the team's depth makes sense.
"An overage defenseman who is a little undersized, but thickly built, Schweingruber has been a known commodity in Switzerland's U20 league for a couple of years and is coming off a strong playoff run where he collected 7 points in 8 games for Bern. He's seen some time internationally, but never for a major tournament. There's not a whole lot that sticks out about Schweingruber's game, which has been sound for two straight years at the U20 level, but there's good reason to feel that if he was drafted by an OHL club, then they know he's ready to come over. Bern certainly doesn't have any space for him on the NL roster, but he'd likely be looking at his first pro play on loan next season, so getting his name known in North America - even as a 19/20 year old - seems like a logical play at this point if his ambition is in the right place." - Chapin Landvogt
35. Guelph Storm - Niko Minkkinen
Minkkinen is certainly not a sexy pick. He is not flashy. However, the big, right shot defender should be able to come in and be a reliable #4-5 defender for the Storm next year behind Cam Allen, Michael Buchinger, and the team's defensive OA's. He didn't play a ton for the Finnish U18 team this year, but with a late 2004 birthday, he is NHL draft eligible next season.
"Minkkinen definitely has the potential to be a positive defensive presence. The size and reach combination gives him a good stick in the defensive end. His defensive positioning is generally sound. Right now, he's a bit more of a stick on puck defender, so it would be great to see him throw his weight around a bit more. By upping his physical intensity level, he could definitely find himself firmly on the NHL draft radar next year. His mobility and offensive skills are a bit of a work in progress. The four way mobility is pretty good for a bigger defender. He defends pace pretty well, so long as he keeps his feet moving. However, his start ups can be ugly in any direction. Makes him a little stiff and slow to react at times. As a puck mover, his skills are fairly limited right now. He can make a clean exit, but don't look for him to lead the rush. He could be an intriguing pairing option with one of Cam Allen or Michael Buchinger next year, allowing them more freedom to roam." - Brock Otten
38. Mississauga Steelheads - Alessio Beglieri
Beglieri is an undersized (5'11) netminder who was the Swiss' starter at this year's U18's. He also led the Swiss U20 league in goals against average this year playing in the Biel-Bienne system. With Roman Basran aging out and Joe Ranger now dealt, the Steelheads have to be hoping that Beglieri can come in and take over the starter's role for a team that hopes to be competitive in the East again.
"Beglieri was a name that immediately jumped out to me because I remembered watching him at the U18's. He was in net for that game against Sweden where Switzerland was leading the eventual gold medalists heading into the third period. Like any small goaltender, he is athletic and he never quits on a play. The compete level is certainly admirable. He has very quick pads. Couple things he'll need to work on are his rebound control and his ability to fight through traffic for his sight lines. At the U18's, he often got caught deep in his crease and because of his lack of size, wasn't able to challenge shooters or cut down angles the way he needed to. Additionally, he can have difficulty corralling high shots cleanly and he kicks second/third chances out into the slot too frequently. Given his size disadvantage, the Steelheads coaching staff will have to work with him to get him to be more aggressive in challenging shooters, otherwise, he might struggle in the league." - Brock Otten
41. London Knights - Kasper Halttunen
Even though he recently transferred to the HIFK program in Finland, I'm really hoping that the Knights can secure his services. The big power winger is a potential top ten pick in next year's draft and was a standout at the recent U18's as an underager. Not only was he named a top three player at the event for Finland, but he was also the Finnish U20 league's rookie of the year. His 24 goals on the year were fifth most all time for the league and compare to the likes of Sebastian Aho (25), Kaapo Kakko (25), and Patrik Laine (26).
Halttunen could easily have the kind of impact that guys like Andrei Svechnikov and Gabriel Landeskog did in the league. He's that kind of player. He's already a pretty aggressive physical player who plays with tenacity and a high energy level. While he is extremely skilled, he is also the kind of player who is dogged in pursuit of the puck and is willing to get his nose dirty to earn a touch. His hands and finishing ability in tight are also fantastic. He can create time and space for himself in traffic near the net like all the best power forwards can. The skating is already pretty decent for a guy his size too. He really is the complete package and would be an immediate impact player for London. He would look especially terrific on the London powerplay, as Dale Hunter could use him as an elite level bumper option." - Brock Otten
44. Soo Greyhounds - Noel Nordh
Nordh is a big, 2005 born winger who had a lot of success playing in the Swedish U18 league this year, but who struggled in the U20 league. He certainly presents as an intriguing option for the Hounds, but one has to wonder if he is a fallback plan for the team should they not be able to convince Julian Lutz to come over after he is drafted into the NHL. That said, he looks like an intriguing player none the less.
"Nordh is a very interesting prospect for next year's NHL draft. He looked really good at times for Sweden in U17 competition this year and was one of the leading scorers for them. His game pretty much plays out like you expect it would. He is a budding power forward who loves to engage physically in pursuit of the puck and who is at his best when he can take up position near the crease. His hands in tight are smooth and he finishes off plays well near the crease. He also shows strong playmaking instincts and may even be more effective as a passer than a shooter at this current time. The skating is a work in progress. He's not the quickest, but can get to a decent top speed to drive the net if he has a runway. Additionally, his shot is not a major threat from the outside, he needs to get to the inside to be a scoring option. However, the physical tools here are very alluring." - Brock Otten
47. Kingston Frontenacs - Ivan Zhigalov
One of the top rated goaltenders available for this year's NHL draft, Zhigalov spent last season with Sherbrooke of the QMJHL. Perhaps surprisingly, they relinquished his rights and the Fronts took advantage of that. Consistency is an issue, but Zhigalov has the athleticism and potential to be one of the better starting netminders in the OHL this upcoming season.
"A Belarussian import netminder, Zhigalov was largely excellent in his first North American season. The 6’3, right-handed catcher (a rarity) combines athleticism and size in a way that has intrigued NHL scouts to the point where he could very well be the first goaltender off the board in Montreal. The second ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting was also excellent at the CHL Top Prospect’s Game this year. His ability to make highlight-reel saves is a testament to his combination of size and athleticism. His confidence in his crease this season was also encouraging, as he seemed to be unflappable even following weak goals. The athletic netminder never gives up on a play. Part of his need to scramble is his own fault, as he can struggle to secure initial shots to his big 6’4 frame, however he recovers well and moves very well post to post. Additionally, Zhigalov plays a bit deep in his crease, which creates more openings for shooters. As he learns to harness his size to become more aggressive (trusting his athleticism), improves his initial reads, and works to control rebounds, he has as good a shot as any goaltender available this year to become an NHL starter. As mentioned, it is a wide open year for the position. Zhigalov could be that top option for a lot of NHL teams." - Brock Otten, McKeen's Draft Guide 2022
50. Flint Firebirds - Nikita Zozulia
Talk about digging deep. The Firebirds selected Zozulia out of the Anaheim Jr. Ice Dogs AAA program, where he has been playing the last several years. The Ukranian born forward has put up some pretty crazy stats at the AAA level, but has not been tested at any sort of higher level as of yet. He was at the USHL combine this past year but was not selected by any USHL clubs. To give you some context, Andrei Bakanov was selected out of the US U16 AAA loop a few years ago after a similar type of season and he was an adequate OHL player. Is Zozulia a fall back option should one of Kuzmin or Slavicek not return?
"Saw him a lot in November. And he’s… a young player. There are a lot of times where he’s a passenger, floating to his spot; throwing the puck without looking; not giving the energy you want in defense. He has redeeming qualities… solid enough skating fundamentals, decent with the puck on his stick, and a solid shot. Good power, could do more to pick his spot but there's meat there. He’s undrafted into the USHL… believe he skated at some main camps but never anything more, which is my guess as to why he went high in the import draft. There’s pieces to work with there but it’s another case of having to add the mind into a young player with skill." - Gabe Foley
56. Windsor Spitfires - Tomas Hebek
A lower rated prospect for this year's NHL Draft, Hebek is a big (6'4) left shot defender. He didn't make the Czech U18 team this year (which might be a tad concerning), however he did see other action with the Czechia program, in addition to spending the year in the Czech junior leagues.
"Tomáš Hebek is one of my favorite under the radar prospects. He’s a big guy, more of a shutdown defenseman, but he has a good first pass and I like his transition game. He can move pretty well for a guy his size. He’s raw but potential is there. He will most likely report." - Czech Prospects
58. Hamilton Bulldogs - Alex Sotek
Sotek is a late round candidate for this year's NHL draft and is a speedy winger who could play a large role for a likely rebuilding Hamilton team following their Memorial Cup run. He played for a million different teams this year, so perhaps some stability would be alluring to him.
"Šotek is a smallish offensive winger with a really good shot that can surprise the goalie. A smooth, fast skater with skilled hands and a good hockey sense. He didn´t show much in Slovak top tier league this year, but he was mostly buried on the fourth line of a juggernaut Slovan Bratislava team that ended up winning the championship. Even though his draft year wasn´t the best, Šotek has the potential to hear his name called in the later rounds of the 2022 NHL Draft. He has two more years on his contract with Slovan, but there is a possibility of him coming to Hamilton. It especially depends on him getting drafted by an NHL team and/or the opportunity he will get from Slovan." - Matej Deraj
62. Saginaw Spirit - Petr Hauser
It seems highly unlikely that the Spirit actually use Hauser given that he would clearly be the team's fourth best Import option. However, he is still worth discussing. A late born 2003, he is rated by some as a late round pick for this year's NHL draft due to his size, tenacity, and improving skill.
"Petr Hauser is a big guy with strength who can score, he plays with lot of energy but still needs to work on his skating. He had a productive season in the Czech U20 league but I would like to see him compete against better players." - Czech Prospects
68. Sudbury Wolves - Dalibor Dvorsky
The home run swings haven't exactly worked out for the Wolves at the Import Draft in recent years but I applaud the effort. Dvorsky is a potential top five pick for next year's NHL draft and is an immensely talented player. He would immediately become one of the OHL's most dynamic offensive players and would make the Wolves a championship contender. The likelihood that he reports is very slim.
"The most talented player from the list. Dvorský is set to play in Swedish HockeyAllsvenskan in the next season, but he was selected by Sudbury anyway. Despite being a fresh 17-year-old, Dvorský has already a few records under his belt; most notably, he is the youngest goal scorer in Slovak top tier league history, the youngest foreign goal scorer in Allsvenskan history and he also led the Slovak silver squad in scoring at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Dvorský is an elite shooter; he has probably the best one-timer among all Slovak juniors. He is an exceptionally smart center, always plays with his head up and makes the right decisions on the ice. It´s hard to find an actual weakness in his game. A possible top five pick at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft." - Matej Deraj
74. Sarnia Sting - David Reinbacher
Reinbacher is a right shot defender from Austria who has been playing in Switzerland. He actually was on Austria's U20 team this year as a U18 player and was set to be one of the country's main defenders. With a late 2004 birthday, he is not NHL draft eligible until next year. The Sting didn't have much like selecting an impact import the previous few years, but with Vilmanis and Reinbacher, it looks like they might have a chance of doing so this year.
"The righty shooting Reinbacher is an Austrian defenseman who has been playing in Switzerland for many years now and was arguably one of the most interesting 17-year-old defenseman in continental Europe this past season. Playing for Kloten's U20 team, he was scoring at just about a PPG pace over 23 games and the club's SL (Swiss second league) team couldn't keep him off the roster. His 11 points and +16 in 27 games as well as his even getting to suit up 14 times on the team's path to gaining promotion to the NL went a long way in showing that he's on the fast path to a pro career as a fast riser. He's got great size and although he'll be one of the older options, the 17-year-old is first draft eligible in 2023. He's a mobile player with a strong first pass and although a work in progress, he is expected to continue between Kloten's U20 and pro teams next winter, so spending his draft year in the OHL could be the most advisable career path just now." - Chapin Landvogt
86. Kitchener Rangers - Mattias Havelid
The Rangers are just dead set on trying to get an impact defender in the draft. They took a flier on Calle Odelius last year. This year it's Hamara and Havelid. Mattias, the son of former NHL'er Nic Havelid, is a tremendous powerplay quaterback and puck mover who was a huge part of Sweden's gold medal victory at this year's U18's. It seems unlikely that he would come over, but between he and Hamara (and Mesar from last year), the Rangers should find an impact player or two.
"The son of former NHLer Niclas and nephew of current Swedish U18 head coach Magnus, Havelid has developed into quite a safe pick defenseman. In saying that, Havelid has basically everything you want in an all-round defenseman. When the money is on the line, there’s a calmness and serenity in his game that is beyond his years. He reads situations with and without the puck accurately. Anytime you think he’s perhaps being too careful, he ends up being just right in his timing and feel for what’s happening. Individual errors are minimal and usually covered up on his own accord while a solid first pass is a given. When he shoots, the puck makes its way to the goal in a proactive manner for his forwards. His patience with the puck is truly a virtue. Havelid showed the hockey world his finest side at the U18 Worlds, where his contributions were - across the board - huge in helping Sweden gain gold. He was one of the main cogs offensively and was on the ice in all situations, especially when things mattered most. It was clear that he was a leader, and he was the most impressive player on a blueline that already featured several highly touted prospects for the upcoming draft. All this was refreshing because his winter was one that showed room for improvement. In essence, he will need to improve in one-on-one plays where opposing skaters were able to get past him maintaining puck control. Positioning around the net and in pinning down opposition forwards hanging out there will need to improve. He’ll need to be more consequential in puck battles over time. And at 5’10”, 174 pounds, he does not possess the ideal size of a defender who is not living off of his skating prowess. - Chapin Landvogt, McKeen's Draft Guide 2022
98. Mississauga Steelheads - Valdemar William Hull
A good sized Swiss winger, Hull, much like Oshawa's selection Gruber, played for the Swiss at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup as an underager. He also spent a good portion of the year playing in the U20 league as a U17 player. He certainly sounds like someone who can come over and play a bottom six role for the Steelheads next year.
"Yet another well-built Swiss player in this year's drafted crop, the half-Danish William Hull tore apart the Swiss U17 league with 16 points in just 6 games and was already a member of the nation's Hlinka Gretzky team as a 16-year-old last summer. William Hull has some pretty slick mitts and is very opportunistic around the goal, where he's tough to move once he gets himself situated. He's an ample forechecker and has no problem with the rough side of the game, where he's excelled in Swiss juniors. In general, he's got a pretty keen sense of how to be in the middle of offensive opportunities and to make himself an open passing station, particularly south of the face-off circles. It looks like Gotteron only has him planned for their U20 club next season, so the OHL may be an option he's looking fondly upon just now. Like Gruber, one of the top Swiss options for the 2023 NHL draft." - Chapin Landvogt
107. Kingston Frontenacs - Linus Hemstrom
Hemstrom actually came into this draft year with a fair amount of hype after a strong performance at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup. However injuries really set him back and his disappointing performance in the Swedish J20 league has made him more of a draft long shot. Even still, he made the Swedish U18 team that won gold this year and has the potential to be a quality top 9 forward for the Fronts next season.
"Linus hemström - actually led hlinka team Sweden in scoring until final game - was hurt and then Covid hit him. He had a rough season played on a bad team as well but a good player. He reminds me of Ludwinski - works hard, always on the puck, needs to shoot more but he is a Swede pass first guy. Will be top 6 with no issues if he comes to Kingston." - Anonymous Swedish Contact
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