The 2008 CHL Import Draft goes tomorrow morning (early on the West Coast – starting at 6:00 AM local time). This is a chance for teams to add European players to their protected lists. Some teams will be looking to add two players, some one and some will most likely pass on their picks.
Here is a breakdown by team in the WHL on where they stand entering the draft:
Brandon – The Wheat Kings will most likely choose two players on Thursday. They finished the season last year with Daniel Bartek on their active roster, but Bartek would be an overage this season. They own the 33rd pick (acquired from Moose Jaw) and the 39th pick in the first round.
Calgary – The Hitmen will be most likely looking to add one player on Thursday. They have 89 born Bostjan Golicic eligible to return after a decent 2007-08 (12-18-30 in 57 games). The other import on their list is Martin Stepan, who was sent home after only 18 games last season. Look for Calgary to drop Stepan and pick up another player at #56.
Chilliwack – The Bruins will look to add one player on Thursday. They still have Oscar Moller, who may be a possibility to stick with the LA Kings, as a 1989 born player on their list. They have one opening after dropping David Hoda after 26 games last season. They have the 21st pick.
Edmonton – The Oil Kings will add one player on Thursday. They have Tomas Vincour (#1 overall in 2007) as a 90 born player and they are losing 88 born Robin Figren who won’t be back after signing a pro contract. They own the 12th pick.
Everett – The Silvertips most likely won’t make any selections on Thursday as they currently have two 89 born players – Lukas Vartovnik and Vitali Karamnov – on their roster. Everett has traded their #27 pick to Regina earlier. They stand pat.
Kamloops – The Blazers can select two players on Thursday as both of their possible returning imports are 88 born overage players – Juuso Puustinen and Ivan Rohac. I don’t expect either of those players to be back in Kamloops this year. The Blazers own the #18 pick (their own) and the #30 pick (acquired from Kelowna).
Kelowna – What will the Rockets do? They already traded their pick to Kamloops meaning they may stand pat with returning 89 Milan Kytnar and hope that 89 Mikael Backlund is sent to them from the Calgary Flames.
Kootenay – The Ice may select either one or two players depending on what they want to do with 90 born Jiri Ryzuk. He had no points in 45 games as a rookie in 2007-08. The other possible returnee is overage 88 Arnaud Jacquemet, who I would think that the Ice wouldn’t mind getting back after 53 points in 65 games. Kootenay has the 45th pick.
Lethbridge – I think the Hurricanes stand pat with returning players Juha Metsola, the 89 born goaltender, and 90 born Luca Sbisa (who just went in the 1st round of the NHL Draft). The Canes own the 54th pick if they to use the choice.
Medicine Hat – Look for Medicine Hat to take two players on Thursday. They have possible returning 88 overage Mikael A’hlen, who didn’t get much of a look early last year, but was decent down the stretch. In a surprise to me, the Tigers already have dropped 89 goaltender Tomas Vosvrda. The Tigers pick 48th.
Moose Jaw – With the Warriors trading their first round pick to Brandon, I would expect them to stand pat with the 89 born Martin Filo and Tomas Karpov this season. I don’t expect them to make any picks.
Portland – The Hawks have the #3 pick and will use that to hopefully garner an impact player. Expect 89 Radim Valchar to return for his second season in Portland.
Prince Albert – The Raiders will most likely make one selection on Thursday. They have 90 born Tomas Voracek returning while their other import returnee would be 88 born overage Max Brandl. PA picks 15th.
Prince George – I expect the Cougars to select two players as they have already dropped Jan Kupec and the other returnee would be 88 born overage Patrik Magnussen. The Cougars have the 9th pick and 69th pick in the second round.
Red Deer – The Rebels have two possible returning players in 89 born Juraj Valach (who has made stops in Tri City, Vancouver, Regina and Red Deer) and 90 born Tomas Polak. Red Deer has the 6th pick overall…do they maybe look to swap that pick or will both Valach and Polak be back. This could be interesting between now and tomorrow morning.
Regina – The Pats will look to pick one player tomorrow as they have 89 born Rudolf Cerveny eligible to return. Regina picked up the #30 pick from Everett in a deal and then dealt their own pick #51 to Vancouver.
Saskatoon – The Blades will also look to select one player as they have 90 born Jyri Niemi slated to be back after a solid first year in the WHL. Saskatoon has the #24 pick.
Seattle – The Thunderbirds will be looking at taking one pick as it is almost certain that 88 born overage goaltender Riku Helenius won’t be back. They do have 89 born Jan Eberle slated to return. Seattle owns pick #42.
Spokane – I think the Chiefs stand pat with 89 born Ondrej Roman and 90 born Stefan Ulmer. The Chiefs have the 59th pick, but I don’t think they’ll use it.
Swift Current – The Broncos will most likely take one player on Thursday. They have 90 born Jan Dalecky set to come back while their other import 88 born overage David Stieler is eligible to return as well. SC has the 36th pick.
Tri City – The Americans will also most likely take one player on Thursday. They have 89 born Petr Stoklasa eligible to return as well as 88 born overage Radek Meidl. I think the Ams make a selection and I think they may be a team going after the Red Deer pick….just a hunch. They own the final pick, #60, in the first round.
Vancouver – Gone is overage Mario Bliznak and the other possible returnee would be 88 born overage Michal Repik. Look for Vancouver to make two picks as they acquired Regina’s at #51 and they have their own at #58.
We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow…
The WHl has put out their pre-season schedule and it shows that the Winter Hawks will play eight pre-season games heading into the 2008-09 season:
8/29 – Portland vs. Tri City – 3:00 – Everett
8/30 – Spokane vs. Portland – 3:00 – Everett
8/31 – Portland vs. Seattle – 3:00 – Everett
9/5 – Everett vs. Portland – 2:00 – Tri City
9/6 – Portland vs. Seattle – 2:00 – Tri City
9/7 – Portland vs. Tri City – 2:00 – Tri City
9/12 – Seattle vs. Portland – 7:30 – Portland
9/13 – Portland vs. Seattle – 7:05 – Kent
No details yet on the game to be held in Portland on Friday, September 12th.