Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2010 CHL Import Draft Review

On Tuesday, June 29, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft where CHL teams got the opportunity to add import talent to their teams. There is two rounds of the draft, and a team can pass on or trade 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.

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 the 2009 Import Draft.

21 of 25 players selected came to the Ontario Hockey League (84%)
13 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (52%)
6 (open for debate) of 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (24%)
Possibly as many as 9 out of 25 will be returning for the 2010-2011 OHL season (36%)

Just by looking at the above data, the likelihood that your selection comes over is pretty high. However, the rate of success achieved by your picks is a different story. Some players come over but fail to make the team (Denis Gladkov for Barrie), or are cut loose after a short time (Stefan Stepanov for Sudbury). While other players end up becoming star players in the league (see Burmistrov, Lehner, Landeskog, etc).

Below is an examination of all selections made by Ontario Hockey League clubs. I have gathered a lot of information with the help of some friends. These include Alessandro Seren Rosso (who's no stranger to this site), Kevin Wey (McKeen's USHL correspondent), Johan Nilsson (of Elite Prospects), amongst many others. Obviously I know very little about any of these players, so having respected individuals to fall back on for an article like this is a necessity.

The Results

2. Sarnia Sting - Nail Yakupov - Forward
Everything I've read seems to point at Yakupov being one of the potential first overall selections for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. With an October 1993 birth date, Yakupov would play in two OHL seasons (should he come over this year) before his draft year. He's already an established player in the KHL developmental league (MHL). He was also contributing player for Team Russia at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, a tournament usually dominated by players heading into their NHL draft years (this year being 1992's). All things point to Yakupov being a dynamite selection by the Sting and the type of player who could really help this young team become dominant moving forward.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso has provided me with some information on Yakupov (most of which can be found at his Import Review for Russia, here). "A classic Russian player, Yakupov is one of those forwards who can get the puck at one end of the ice and take it to the opposite end still with the puck on the blade. He has a great hockey IQ and it reflects in his decision making, he knows when to pass and when to shoot. But he needs to get bigger, being only 5'11", 168 lbs, and improve his defensive play."
Statistics (thanks to Elite Prospects and Hockey Canada):

2009-10

Reaktor Nizhnekamsk

MHL

14

4

2

6

26


Russia

Ivan Hlinka

4

3

2

5

4


Russia

WJAC

4

2

1

3

8


5. Kitchener Rangers - Tobias Rieder - Forward
While he may not be big, Germany's Tobias Rieder is still considered to be a highly sought after prospect. He's performed admirably for Germany internationally for the past two years despite being a 1993 born player and he's already become a quality offensive player in the 2nd German league. Just to give you an idea, the highly anticipated Tom Kuhnhackl also played in the 2nd German league this year. Rieder, at one year younger, put up a similar stat line. Certainly seems like Rieder has a chance to at least have the type of impact Gabriel Landeskog did for Kitchener this season.
Scouting Report: German hockey expert Nils Kloppmann helps us out with Reider. "Tobias Rieder is maybe the most skilled German player ever. It's fun to watch him. He's a very good skater, good hands, his shot is very accurate, especially his backhander. I can't say anything bad about him besides his size. That's clearly his biggest weakness (5'9). But he's not afraid of traffic, so if he can maybe grow 2-3 inches and add some muscles, he's a legit prospect for the NHL. If he'd have normal size (6'0+), we'd talk about him as top 5 pick in the next draft I think. Last season he played with Tom K├╝hnhackl on a line and was IMO the better player although being younger and smaller."
Statistics (Thanks to Elite Prospects):

2009-10

Landshut

Germany2

45

10

13

23

28


Germany

WJC-18 D1

5

6

1

7

12


Russia

WJC-20 D1

5

4

2

6

0


8. Oshawa Generals - Nicklas Jensen - Forward
While Jensen may come from a developing hockey nation in Denmark, many seem to think he has the chance to develop into the best player that country has ever developed. Just to give you an idea, but as a 17 year old, Jensen had 26 points in the Danish Hockey League. This earned him rookie of the year honors. Current Ottawa Senators forward (and a good one at that) Peter Regin had 1 assist in over 20 games during his 17 year old season in the league. Jensen was also voted as the top forward at the 2010 Division 1 Under 18 Championships after scoring 13 goals in 5 games. There is no denying that Jensen could have the talent to be a big time point producer for the Generals next season.
Scouting Report: Our scouting report comes from Danish hockey expert Peter Krabbe. "Jensen is a great skater; fast and with a good balance and acceleration for a player his size. He has a fantastic drive, and likes to go directly to the net. He is big and strong and plays with a physical edge. He has soft hands and is very good with the puck. He also had a really good shot. Jensen doesn't necessarily need a playmaker either, he creates a lot of chances for himself. It was best illustrated at the U18 WJC D1 in April, where 5 of the 13 goals he scored were unassisted. In each game he normally creates a couple of big chances besides the ones he manages to put in the net himself. His good hockey IQ allows him to be at the right spot at the right time, especially when attacking. While he is not a liability defensively, it is something he can improve, and I am sure he will when he comes to Oshawa. Some believe that he could become the best player ever to come out of Denmark, and I am one of them."
Statistics (Thanks to Elite Prospects):

2009-10

Herning

Denmark

34

12

14

26

28


Denmark

WJC-18 D1

5

13

2

15

14


Denmark

WJC-20 D1

5

3

2

5

2


11. Barrie Colts - Petr Beranek - Forward
Beranek is a talented Czech forward who played in Finland this past season as part of the Tappara Under 18 and Under 20 programs. He finished his season very strong after posting nearly a point per game for the Tappara Under 20 program during their playoff season (despite only mediocre regular season numbers in the league).
Scouting Report: The report comes from Finnish hockey expert who would like to remain anonymous. He says "Beranek is a crafty forward with good stick handling ability and a heavy shot. He's fairly competitive and has a good confidence level for his age. I think he definitely has the mentality and physical tools to withstand the North American game. Beranek should eventually develop into a top-6 forward, but it might take the first season for him to adjust and settle in to the OHL. It’s fairly certain that he will report to Barrie."
Statistics (Thanks to Elite Prospects):

2009-10

Tappara U18

Jr. B SM-sarja

22

12

11

23

44


Tappara U20

Jr. A SM-liiga

13

2

4

6

2


14. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors - Mika Partanen - Forward
An interesting selection by the Majors, Partanen is a late birth date 1992 forward from Finland, which makes him eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He put up solid stats for HIFK Under 20 this year and performed admirably for Finland at the Under 18's and the Ivan Hlinka. Partanen serves as increased forward depth (and hopefully secondary scoring depth) for the Majors.
Scouting Report: The report comes from Finnish hockey expert who, again, would like to remain anonymous. He says "Partanen has speed, size, strength and an ability to handle the puck at full speed. He protects the puck well and it’s hard to knock him off the puck. He plays simple straightforward hockey and goes hard to the net and excels when jumping into open lanes. In order to be productive, Partanen requires a playmaker who feeds the puck to him at full speed. He rarely takes stupid penalties. Partanen did Sign a 2+1 year contract with HIFK’s first team in early May, but knowing that Finns usually make the jump across the pond when drafted, I’d say that there’s a good chance that he will report."
Statistics:

2009-10

HIFK U20

Jr. B SM-sarja

38

15

24

39

18


Finland

WJC-18

6

1

3

4

27


Finland

Ivan Hlinka

4

0

1

1

0


17. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors - Maxim Kitsyn - Forward
With their second import selection, the Majors selected Russian forward Maxim Kitsyn, who was recently a sixth round pick of the LA Kings at the 2010 NHL Draft. OHL fans may remember Kitsyn from this year's Subway Super Series where he had two of Russia's four goals against OHL squads. As a late birth date 1991, Kitsyn is someone the Majors are expecting can provide an immediate impact offensively, giving them the dynamic offensive player so many of us say they need. Being a 1991, that also means Kitsyn's stay in St. Mike's is likely to be a short one as I'd be surprised if he spends more than one year with the club.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso provides us with the scouting report. "Kitsyn is a power forward in the making. He is a versatile player with good hands and if he will report he might become one of the top imports in the OHL. However, his biggest flaw is inconsistency." Kitsyn was actually rated 43rd by The Hockey News in their draft preview, and here is what a few NHL scouts had to say about him. "He's a moody player. There's no doubt he has skill, but one game you notice him, and the next game you're looking for him." Another scout added: "At times this season we've had him in our top ten, but it's a crapshoot with this guy." McKeen's had him ranked 85th and in their scouting report, they talk about his ability to put the puck in the net, but the need to skate harder away from the puck in order to get himself in scoring position.
Statistics:

2008-09

Russia

WJC-18

7

4

4

8

16

2009-10

Metallurg Novokuznetsk

KHL

21

1

1

2

12


Kuznetskie Medvedi

MHL

11

6

12

18

26


Russia

WJC-20

6

0

3

3

0


20. London Knights - Vladislav Namestnikov - Forward
Namestnikov is a huge wild card selection by the Knights. While it's being reported that he's only 50/50 for showing up in London this year, this talented Russian forward is currently considered a top 10 (maybe even top 5) for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He is a very talented offensive center who could have an absolutely monster impact on the Ontario Hockey League. McKeen's has him listed as one of their 13 bluechip prospects for the 2011 Entry Draft. Namestnikov also shined for Russia at the Under 18's, Ivan Hlinka and the World Junior A Challenge this year.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "Vladislav Namestnikov is a very good center who can put the biscuit in the basket with consistency, but is also a good playmaker. He is a very good skater and has a very good coordination too. He absolutely needs to bulk up, but a year in America would surely make him work on his frame." Meanwhile, McKeen's compares Namestnikov to former Red Wings great Igor Larionov, calling him a "highly cerebral player who competes hard at both ends of the ice."
Statistics:

2008-09

Russia

WJC-17

5

8

2

10

18

2009-10

Khimik Voskresensk

Russia2

26

11

6

17

-


Russia

WJC-18

7

5

2

7

4


Russia

WJAC

4

2

2

4

2


Russia

Ivan Hlinka

4

2

3

5

0


23. Windsor Spitfires - Alexander Khokhlachev - Forward
Like the London Knights, the Spitfires roll the dice by taking another highly touted Russian forward who's eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Like Namestnikov, Khokhlachev is listed among McKeen's 13 Bluechip prospects for the 2011 Draft. However, like Namestnikov, Khoklachev is no sure thing to show up in Windsor. He's currently in the Spartak Moscow system of the KHL and could even see regular time next year after an excellent season in the MHL as a 17 year old. But let's not discount the power of Rychel and Boughner in getting their guy. I'm sure the fact that Alexander Burmistrov was the first Russian selected in the 2010 Entry Draft can be used to help sway Russian players to the CHL.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "Khokhlachev is a center with an excellent hockey sense and is versatile enough to be useful in all situations. He likes looking around for open partners and can rack up assists with relative ease." McKeen's says, "he has deceptive speed and can blow by defenders. His game is best suited lining up with a true finisher who can take advantage of his uncanny vision. He also exhibits sensational patience and two way maturity." Sounds a lot like Alexander Burmistrov doesn't it?
Statistics:

2009-10

MHC Spartak

MHL

51

15

25

40

22


Russia

WJC-17

6

5

8

13

4


26. Brampton Battalion - Jonathan Johansson - Forward
The Battalion opt for big Swedish forward Jonathan Johansson with their import selection. Johansson was fairly highly rated for this year's NHL Entry Draft (ranked 15th among Euro's by CSS, 117th by McKeen's), but ended up going undrafted. Perhaps he's hoping a trip across the pond could help to increase interest in him. Johansson is a 1991 born player who made significant strides this season, as he grew into his large frame and nearly tripled his point production. But again, as a 1991, it's not likely Johansson spends more than a year with the Battalion, unless he goes undrafted again in 2011 and decides to remain in Brampton as an OA.
Scouting Report: Elite Prospects' Johan Nilsson gives us the scouting report on Johansson. "He is a big guy that is an all-round good player. A strong and smart two-way player with good puck skills and playmaking ability. Team player that plays with an authority and brings some leadership skills too. Skating is the one aspect he has to work the hardest on, although I would not call him slow. Just needs to get those feet going a bit faster. He should be a very good OHL player. Maybe not a scoring machine, but for sure one of the better players on his team and used in all game situations."
Statistics:

2008-09

Sweden

WJC-18

6

0

0

0

5

2009-10

Frolunda J20

SuperElit

31

18

12

30

14


Sweden

WJAC

4

3

0

3

2


29. Erie Otters - Timofei Tankeev - Forward
The Otters go with a bit of an off the board type selection in Tankeev, a Russian player who spent this season in the CSHL (Central United States Hockey League). This is a Tier III Junior A league. Tankeev played for the St. Louis Jr. Blues, whose alumni include NHL'ers Chris Butler and Paul Stastny. Tankeev did have a very good season in the league as a 17 year old though, which points to the fact that he must have some offensive talent and could be a real diamond in the rough for the Otters.
Scouting Report: Tankeev's coach this season with the Jr. Blues, Jack Behan weighs in with his thoughts on Tankeev, "Tim was a very skilled player for us this season. He was our youngest player and one of the youngest in the CSHL. He has very good vision and hands, especially in the scoring areas. He also had solid size and is a very fine competitor."
Statistics:

2009-10

St. Louis Jr. Blues

CSHL

45

26

46

72

31


32. Guelph Storm - Andrei Pedan - Defenseman
Finally a defenseman taken by an OHL club, Pedan is a difficult one to find any information on. He's a 1993 born defender with great size (6'3), and he was recently a first round selection by Moscow Dynamo in the KHL Draft. While all signs seem to be pointing to Pedan's arrival in Guelph, there's always the possibility he stays to try and make the KHL.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso handles this one. "Pedan can be very effective at both ends of the ice and likes to play aggressively. In spite of these valuable features he never represented Russia on the international stag. He has all the tools to be a high draft pick coming next June, but he needs to be tested against better competition."
Statistics:
Nothing can be found...

35. Peterborough Petes - Lino Martschini - Forward
If you thought London's Daniel Erlich was small, wait until you get a glimpse of Swiss forward Lino Martschini. He's currently listed at 5'5 and 126lbs by Elite Prospects. That's pint sized. But it's obvious that the Petes believe he can play at the OHL level despite his lack of size. In Switzerland he was still a successful offensive player and even put up decent numbers at this year's Under 18's and Ivan Hlinka despite being a 17 year old. At the Ivan Hlinka, he actually played on a line with 5th overall pick Nino Neiderreiter, putting up the same number of points.
Scouting Report: Our scouting report comes from Hockey's Future Switzerland writer Rafik Soliman. "Martschini is a tiredless and speedy skater with a nose for the net. He tries to shoot from everywhere he can. Due to his small stature he'll need to bulk up and start to add some muscles, but he plays with passion and makes you forget that he's only 5'5'. He suffered a foot injury last season and missed most of the games in December and January and also a shot at a spot in the u20 National Team. He already played in the 2nd highest Swiss Amateur league against men and managed to score 4 goals and 10 assists in 16 games. With his u20 junior team he finnished 3rd in the swiss championship and scored 2 goals and 1 assist in a best-of-one bronze medal game! He is the guy you want on the ice in crucial times of the game in both offensive and defensive situations." Sounds very promising.
Statistics:

2009-10

Zug U20

Elite Jr. A

17

14

13

27

2


Switzerland

Ivan Hlinka

4

3

2

5

-


Switzerland

WJC-18

6

1

2

3

2


38. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Egor Omelyanenko - Forward
Omelyaneko is a 1993 born Russian forward who laced up the skates at this year's Under 17's. He's only averaged sized (5'11, 160lbs), but can apparently bring a lot of energy to the ice. The Hounds will likely try to play a real in your face, hard nosed kind of hockey this year so it sounds like he could fit in nicely. By the sounds of things, I'm not sure Hounds fans can expect a lot of offense from him next year, but he'll certainly play hard.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "Omelyanenko is a winger who plays with lots of energy. He has very good offensive skills as well as skating and has enough stamina to play such a style throughout the whole game. He's not a prototypical Russian player as he doesn't have such technique that you might expect from a player coming from Russia, but he has lots of heart and likes to play hard, even along the boards and in the corners. He could stand to be more creative with the puck, but his playing style can fit very well in North America, should he decide to report."
Statistics:

2009-10

Russia

WJC-17

6

1

0

1

0


41. Plymouth Whalers - Rickard Rakell - Forward
Due to the fact that Tomas Tatar never reported to Plymouth and defenseman Michal Jordan is moving on to professional hockey, the Whalers have two import slots open this year. The first of their two selections was 1993 born Swedish forward Richard Rakell. He played a lot of hockey this year and suited up for Sweden at the Under 17's. Johan Nilsson, despite not being able to give us a scouting report, does say that Rakell is considered to be one of the better 1993 born Swedish forwards.
Scouting Report: From Hockey Canada's players to watch for the 2010 Under 17's..."Rakell is a smart and effective two-way forward who bangs and crashes to the net. He has an above average shot and is able to play multiple roles, in multiple situations. He is defensively responsible and does not lose many puck battles." Also still waiting on a report from a Swedish hockey contact.
Statistics (Thanks to Elite Prospects):

2009-10

AIK J18

J18 Elit

18

12

4

16

8


AIK J20

Super Elit

8

3

1

4

2


Sweden

WJC-17

6

1

1

2

2


44. Ottawa 67's - Robert Farmer - Forward
The pride of Great Britain, Farmer is considered to be one of the best hockey prospects that the United Kingdom has ever produced. He's got great size at 6'3 and he's put up quality offensive numbers wherever he's played. The selection likely comes at the recommendation of former 67's Joe Talbot and Jon Zion, who played with Farmer in the British Hockey League this season. As a 1991, Farmer is likely hoping to come over to Ottawa to try and improve his stock for his final chance at getting drafted in 2011. More than likely though, Farmer could be a two year player for the 67's, should he perform well and the 67's elect to keep him next year as an OA. However, Farmer did receive a camp invite in the USHL as well, so he does have options...even if it would appear that the 67's are the most likely destination.
Scouting Report: Thanks to British hockey expert Stephen for supplying this report. "I can tell you he has a good work ethic, he is versatile and will be a physical two-way player. He may struggle at first with the OHL's high skill level and speed but if he sticks, he's a coachable player who will finish strong. I would not expect him to be a top line player - he will need to find a role - starting on the third line with potential to develop into a second line scorer or a defensive specialist."
Statistics:

2009-10

Sheffield Steelers

EIHL

36

6

11

17

66


Great Britain

WJC-20 D2

5

9

7

16

14


47. Sudbury Wolves - Andrei Kuchin - Forward
Andrei Kuchin is a very interesting player. Once a highly touted Russian prospect, Kuchin has since gone through two NHL drafts without being selected. This despite a very strong year in the USHL in 2009-2010 where he averaged a point per game. It's clear he's determined to make the NHL and find success in North America. Considering how well he played in the USHL this season, there's no reason to expect that he make an immediate impact for Sudbury this year. And considering they will lose John Kurtz, Eric O'Dell and Jared Staal up front, the Wolves are going to need all the help they can get.
Scouting Report: McKeen's USHL correspondent Kevin Wey weighs (pun intended) in on Kuchin, a player he says he saw numerous times this season. The report is very long, but well worth the read which is why I've posted it in its entirety. "Andrei Kuchin demonstrated his standout offensive vision immediately during the 2009 USHL pre-season, but he also demonstrated he had significant work to do to ever be more than a journeyman Vyshaya Liga player. Bottom line, he looked lazy. However, his metamorphosis over the 2009-10 season changed that. First, he improved his explosiveness, which gave him some separation, and he then buttressed that with an improved hustle to loose pucks and an increased willingness to engage physically. His defensive effort also improved, and he started creating turnovers on the forecheck and the backcheck and even saw some time on the PK. All of these improvements, both physical and mental, made Kuchin much more effective and dangerous, as he was able to generate a lot more offense now that he was proactively creating more opportunities to have the puck on his stick. At the end of the season, he was Chicago’s top forward, and it showed in his team-leading 20 goals and 36 assists in 56 games. He should make a significant impact for the Wolves in 2010-11." In addition, here is a quick scouting report that Kevin Wey has supplied for us: "His play away from the puck improved markedly, which helped foster his move to center. He has good poise with the puck under pressure and possesses excellent offensive vision to find teammates through traffic or on the periphery. Kuchin started to show some explosiveness with the puck, which really helped him to skate the puck out of traffic and in quick races. He can play center or the wing."
Statistics:

2009-10

Chicago Steel

USHL

56

20

36

56

59


50. Plymouth Whalers - Dario Trutmann - Defenseman
Trutmann is a talented Swiss defenseman who just missed the cut off for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (by two days). With defensive leader Michal Jordan moving on, the Whalers needed to fill the void left by him. The Whalers likely were impressed by Trutmann at this year's Under 18's, where he had an excellent tournament. This included a two assist game in Switzerland's 3-1 upset over Canada. Trutmann also suited up for the Swiss at this year's Ivan Hlinka tournament, where he was again one of the team's top defenseman.
Scouting Report: Our scouting report comes from Hockey's Future Switzerland writer Rafik Soliman. "Trutmann is a pure leader and was Captain on this years Swiss u18-Team that sent Canada to the relegation round and finished 5th in the tournament. He's an aggressive player but sometimes he takes stupid penalties and can lose his composure. Trutmann is a right shooting rearguard with a nice outlet pass and he possesses a nice shot from the point. However, he could use it more on the PP, since he does sometimes hesitate to use it and is looking for a pass."
Statistics:

2009-10

Zug U20

Elite Jr. A

28

8

15

23

78


Switzerland

WJC-18

6

0

5

5

12


Switzerland

Ivan Hlinka

4

1

0

1

-


53. London Knights - Igor Bobkov - Goaltender
The selection of Bobkov by the Knights is a huge one, no pun intended. The 6'4 goaltender has the ability to jump right into the OHL and become one of the better goaltenders in the league...just as Robin Lehner did with Sault Ste. Marie this year. Bobkov was a 3rd round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2009 and has performed very well internationally for Russia the past two seasons as the starter for their Under 18 and Under 20 WJC teams. While the selection surprises me, and his reporting to London is no sure thing, perhaps Bobkov has become frustrated over a lack of playing time in the KHL and MHL this season (where he struggled). It's probably pretty likely that the Ducks want him in North America this season. That said, what does Bobkov's selection due to the confidence of Michael Houser, who many were expecting would be handed the starting goalie duties after a solid rookie season?
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "Bobkov is a big, talented goalie with very good athletic abilities and a fast glove hand. He has a very good positional play and performed very well with the national team playing with a defense which wasn't really the best. The downside is that he didn't play a lot in the last two years, but should he cross the pond, he might find the ideal spot for his development."
Statistics:

2008-09

Russia

WJC-18

6

5

1

3.33

.927

2009-10

Stalnie Lisi Magnitogorsk

MHL

14

-

-

2.71

.893


Russia

WJC-20

6

3

3

2.45

.930


56. Kingston Frontenacs - Michal Cajkovsky - Defenseman
Thanks to the acquisition of goaltender Philip Grubauer, the Fronts only had space for one Import selection, which they used on large Slovak defenseman Michal Cajkovsky. The 6'4, 200lbs defender was passed over in this year's NHL Entry Draft, and was ranked 137th by CSS. However, he was once highly touted and at midterm he was rated 61st among Euro skaters. A lackluster Under 18's really lowered his ranking. But there's hope that Cajkovsky can come in and be a physically imposing member of the Fronts blueline. Gudbranson, Doherty, Cajkovsky. Those are some big boys back there.
Scouting Report: Our scouting report comes from a Czech hockey expert who wishes to remain anonymous because he does some scouting work. He is not high on Cajkovsky (sorry Kingston fans). Here's what he had to say: "Cajkovsky has excellent size but he doesn´t use it to his advantage by playing a physical game in his own zone even if he can occasionally deliver a hard (open ice) hit. His D-zone coverage is very average as he has trouble containing quicker skaters in tight, due to the fact that he has heavy feet. He can also be beaten wide by speed, and needs to improve his agility. He can make simple plays with the puck but (at times) he thinks that he is a skilled puck mover and tries to make plays which take him out of his comfort zone. This leads to turnovers at both ends of the ice. Despite all of the negative information I've supplied you with, I think he should be okay in the OHL, but I can't see him being more than a third pairing guy." Keep in mind that's one person's opinion, but perhaps it helps to explain why a 6'4 defenseman fell to 137th among European skaters on CSS' list.
Statistics:

2009-10

HC Slovan Bratislava U20

Slovakia U20

28

4

13

17

97


HC Slovan Bratislava

Slovakia

17

0

0

0

4


Slovakia

WJC-18

6

0

0

0

6


Slovakia

Ivan Hlinka

4

0

1

1

-


58. Owen Sound Attack - Ricards Berzins - Defenseman
Berzins is a late birth date 1992 defenseman from Latvia, making him eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He has good size at 6'2 and would appear to bring some physicality to the Attack line up (based on his statistics). However, Elite Prospects has him as only playing 9 games this year. After doing some digging, he missed the majority of last season with a knee injury that required surgery. Which would explain why he did not play for Latvia at the Under 18's this year. It'll be interesting to see what type of shape he shows up to Owen Sound camp in.
Scouting Report: It's quite difficult to find information on Latvian players (at least at the level Berzins was playing at. All we've got to go on are the brief words from Attack General Manager Dale Degray. "Richards will add some much needed depth and size to our blueline." Pretty vague. Almost makes you wonder if very little is known about Berzins and he came on a recommendation from an agent working the lines or someone outside the organization. Sorry Attack fans, this one could be a mystery!
Statistics:

2009-10

HS Prizma/Pardaugava 92

Latvia U18

9

4

7

11

20


62. Sarnia Sting - Nickolas Latta - Forward
Like Nail Yakupov, the Sting used their second import selection on another late birth date 1993 forward in Nickolas Latta. This means that both players (if they are successful), could be with the Sting for the next two to three years. Latta's uncle David was a former Kitchener Rangers stand out and first round pick of the Quebec Nordiques. He finished out his playing career in Germany with his brother Ken, meaning that Latta is actually a dual citizen. Nickolas was the third leading scorer in the DNL (German development league) this season, despite being on a relatively poor team. Just to give you an idea, the second leading scorer in the DNL this year was Mirko Hofflin, the 6th round selection of the Chicago Blackhawks in this year's NHL Draft. Hofflin is 16 months older than Latta, which makes Latta's accomplishments this season pretty significant.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report from a German hockey contact, but for now here's what Sting VP of hockey operations Bill Abercrombie had to say: "“Nickolas is a very skilled player who competes hard. When he fills out he will be 6 feet plus to go with his natural ability. Like Yakupov he is a late 1993 birthdate so we feel he will help us both immediately and down the road as well as we continue to build this franchise back up.”
Statistics:

2009-10

Riessersee U18

DNL

34

31

31

62

74


65. Belleville Bulls - Vojtech Butor - Forward
Vojtech Butor is a Czech forward with very good size (6'3), but a very slight frame (140lbs). As a 1993, he does have time to fill out though. He had a good year in the Czech leagues and played for the Czech Republic at the Under 17's this year. With Richard Panik already in the fold for Belleville, I'm sure the Bulls are hoping Butor can provide some secondary scoring on a relatively young (and hopefully improving) team.
Scouting Report: Our scouting report comes from our anonymous Czech hockey expert. A disclaimer before reading it, our Czech contact does admit that he did not see Butor play last season and is only going off his notes from 2008-09. You and I know how much players can change in one year. Regardless, here's what he had to say. "He was very unimpressive when I saw him. Butor has excellent size and okay skills for someone of his size, but he's hardly an average skater. I would even say subpar skater. He definitely has some goal scoring ability and an a solid shot, but doesn't get himself in position to use it because he doesn´t use his size much in battles along the boards, and he lacks effort without the puck. I've also heard that work ethic, character and determination are big(really big) question marks. I don´t want to make any conclusions based on last season, but I certainly don´t share the same enthusiasm of Belleville's GM." Speaking of George Burnett, here's what he had to say: “Vojtek is a big, rangy centre who has represented his country on the international stage at the 2010 World U17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins and is expected to do so again at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August” commented Bulls General Manager and Head Coach George Burnett. “He is a skilled player with excellent skating ability.” Definitely some differences of opinion there. I guess we'll see who's right in a couple of months.
Statistics:

2009-10

HC Kladno U20

Czech U20

16

3

4

7

8


HC Kladno U18

Czech U18

29

13

25

38

54


Czech Republic

WJC-17

5

1

1

2

6


74. Sudbury Wolves - Markus Pock - Forward
The second selection made by the Wolves in this year's import draft goes to Markus Pock, the younger brother of former New York Rangers and Islanders defenseman Thomas Pock. The 18 year old Austrian forward was passed over in this year's NHL Entry Draft, despite being ranked 88th among Euro skaters by CSS. He did play for Austria at both the Under 20 WJC's (where Austria was relegated back down to Division 1) and the Under 18's (D1). However, the Austrian Under 18 was embarrassed as they finished last in Division 1 and are now relegated to Division 2. This is obviously a huge disaster for Austrian hockey. That being said, he has strong bloodlines and can likely be a solid OHL player.
Scouting Report: German hockey expert Nils Kloppmann calls Pock "a good sized two way forward. His international appearances this year were not so good, but the teams around him were not great at all. But considering his size, his pretty good defensive play and his bloodlines, I think he's a guy with solid upside and should be a welcome addition to the OHL." Meanwhile, our anonymous Czech hockey expert was less impressed with Pock. Although he cautions us by saying he only saw him play once. "He looked like a subpar skater to me. Everything about his skating was lacking; an economic stride, speed, quickness, acceleration. He showcased okay puck skills and hockey sense but far from enough to make up for his poor skating. He's strong off the puck and shows effort, but isn't strong enough or physical enough to be a quality forechecker or player along the wall. I would be very surprised if he is more than fringe player in OHL."
Statistics:

2009-10

Klagenfurter AC U20

Austria U20

14

11

8

19

22


Klagenfurter AC

Austria

30

2

1

3

18


Austria

WJC-18 D1

5

0

2

2

22


Austria

WJC-20

6

0

0

0

2


77. Niagara IceDogs - Milan Doudera - Defenseman
On the surface, the selection of Doudera would appear to be a bit of an unknown and likely unspectacular choice. However, upon closer inspection, it would appear that the 5'11, Czech defenseman could actually be a pretty solid player. He suited up for the Czech Under 17 team this season and had an excellent season in the Czech U20 league. Just to give you a comparison, Vancouver Canucks 5th rounder in 2010 Adam Polasek was an import selection last year (to Montreal of the QMJHL). In his 17 year old season in the Czech U20 league, he had 3 points and split half his time with the U20 and U18 league. Doudera had 13 points and played nearly the entire season in the U20 league. Adam Polasek was one of the top rookies in the Q this season, so perhaps Doudera can make a similar impact in the OHL for Niagara.
Scouting Report: Our scouting report comes from a Czech hockey expert who wishes to remain anonymous because he does some scouting work. "Doudera is a smart, undersized puckhandling defenseman who reads the play well and has good vision. He plays with poise, has a strong first pass, can be creative, and generally makes good decisions with the puck. He has a solid shot but is more of QB than trigger man on the powerplay. Doudera's skating should be okay for the OHL but it limits him as future NHL prospect, as his lateral mobility is only average and his straight skating lacks explosiveness. Defensively, he relies more on positional play than strength, as he is not physical. Doudera is what he is. He is simply a puck-moving D who will never be a force in his own zone." Hockey Canada's players to watch for the 2010 Under 17's (a more cookie cutter report)..."Doudera is a very good skater who has excellent instincts around the puck. He doesn’t give up much defensively, but also has great offensive upside with a good shot. He is also tremendous on the power play. Doudera can throw the body and battles well in corners and in front of net."
Statistics:

2009-10

HC Kladno U20

Czech U20

33

4

9

13

24


Czech Republic

WJC-17

5

0

0

0

2


83. Brampton Battalion - Dennis Saikkonen - Goaltender
A cool fact about Dennis Saikkonen. He has Swiss, Swedish and Finnish citizenship. However, the late birth date 1992 born goaltender (making him eligible for the NHL Draft in 2011), plays in Switzerland where he was the starting goaltender for HC Bern's Under 20 team this season. He also suited up for Switzerland at the Under 18's and the Ivan Hlinka where he served as the back up netminder. The Battalion are likely looking at Saikkonen as an option to split time with youngster Jacob Riley.
Scouting Report: Our scouting report comes from Hockey's Future Switzerland writer Rafik Soliman. "Saikkonen played forward and goaltender until the age of 12 before he decided to become a full time goaltender. He has good positioning and nice reflexes, but tends to go down a little early. He also has to work on his rebound control." He sounds like a real project and a guy who wasn't spent a lot of time in the net.
Statistics:

2009-10

Bern U20

Elite Jr. A

29

-

-

-

-


Switzerland

WJC-17

2

0

1

6.68

.821


92. Guelph Storm - Matej Machovsky - Goaltender
Let the goaltending carousel in Guelph continue! The Storm used five goaltenders last season in the search for someone that could give them quality starts. Ultimately, Brandon Foote was able to do that when he returned towards the end of the season from hip surgery. However, I'm sure the Storm would love to have another quality goaltender in camp (allowing them to not use an overage spot on Cody St. Jacques). Machovsky is a young netminder (a 1993) who played in the Czech U20 league this year and also suited up for the Czech Republic at the Under 17's. Pretty hard to predict the type of impact he could have.
Scouting Report: Our scouting report comes from a Czech hockey expert who wishes to remain anonymous because he does some scouting work. "Machovsky is a big goalie who plays big in his net. However, he's not very athletic or flexible as evidenced by only average reflexes, and generally poor mobility. He's not very aggressive in net, as he stays back in his net using his size, letting the play to come to him. Machovsky plays a Butterfly style and squares up to the shooter quite well, showing that he can follow the play. However, I would like to see him challenge shooters more aggressively by coming out to the top of the blue ice. His glove hand is a big question mark for me. In the two games I saw him play last year it was like he was playing with two blockers. Definitely a work in progress." Here is a more "cheery" report from Hockey Canada's players to watch for the 2010 Under 17's..."Machovsky has great size, tremendous quickness and makes great reactionary saves. He has good lateral quickness, a very good work ethic and makes a lot of second-effort saves. He has a quick glove, can plays the puck well, and is really tough to beat when playing well."
Statistics:

2009-10

HC Slezan Opava U20

Czech U20

31

-

-

3.91

.891


Czech Republic

WJC-17

2

1

1

4.96

.873


*Also of note, 2009 Import selection Tom Kuhnhackl will be suiting up for the Windsor Spitfires this season. For more information on that, see Nils Kloppmann talk about what to expect in this previous article about the German forward. HERE

Special thanks to all that contributed to this article. Much appreciated.

Here's to hoping your team is able to find the next Alexander Burmistrov with your Import selection and not the next Stefan Stepanov!

Stay tuned for updates as I receive the scouting reports I'm waiting on for certain players.

ADDED UPDATE ON MARKUS POCK AND MATEJ MACHOVSKY

ADDED UPDATE ON LINO MARTSCHINI, DARIO TRUTMANN, & DENNIS SAIKKONEN

ADDED UPDATE ON NICKLAS JENSEN

ADDED UPDATE ON VOJTECH BUTOR