CHL Import Draft Highlights

The Canadian Hockey League had its annual Import Draft on Wednesday and welcomed a new could-be superstar into its league. Now, before we get to who was picked, let’s have a refresher on the rules.

Each team is allowed two imports on its roster. If a team already has one on the roster, that team can make one choice in the two-round draft. If a team has two, it has to pass and the draft moves on to the next pick. Obviously, if a team has none, it can pick two. The catch is that some of these players might not make the jump to North America, therefore teams want to be fairly certain a player will join them.

The Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League all take part. The worst teams in each league take the first three picks and the picks further alternate until the two rounds are over.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the picks.

The Picks

The OHL’s Barrie Colts had the first overall pick and selected Russian winger Andrei Svechnikov. He won a bronze medal with Russia at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge where he also led the tournament in points. He also has a pretty good chance at playing at the World Juniors this year if Russia doesn’t focus on older players. Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk had this to say about him.

“Andrei is a very skilled hockey player. He’s a natural goal scorer and we’re fortunate to have player like that joining the team. He’s one of those players that make his teammates on the ice better. He fits perfectly into the role we need and expect from him.”

The younger brother of Detroit Red Wing prospect Evgeny Svechnikov, who was taken 19th overall in 2015, the younger Svechnikov is an early candidate to go first overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. He will be battling Sweden’s Rasmus Dahlin for that honor unless anyone else pops into the conversation or one of the two fall out of it.

The QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats were next up and took another Russian in center Alexander Khovanov, who was a teammate of Svechnikov’s teammates at the Under-17s. The WHL’s Kootenay Ice rounded out the top three and took Swiss winger Gilian Kohler.

NHL Prospects Making the Jump?

Filip Chytil, New York Rangers, NHL Draft
(Jiri Zanat / Zlin Press)

Eleven picks were used to take on players that were just drafted to the NHL in 2017, including three first-rounders. The North Bay Battalion took the New York Rangers’ Filip Chytil, the Saginaw Spirit took Carolina’s Martin Necas, and the Niagara Ice Dogs made a surprise pick in taking Toronto’s Timothy Liljegren. The highest NHL pick was taken fourth overall when the Guelph Storm took St. Louis’ Alexei Toropchenko, who was taken in the fourth round.

The seven other NHL picks were: Columbus’s Alexandre Texier (17th to Baie-Comeau), Montreal’s Joni Ikonen (28th to Hamilton), Pittsburgh’s Jan Drozg (41st to Shawinigan), Tampa Bay’s Oleg Sosunov (45th to Moose Jaw), New Jersey’s Jesper Bratt (49th to London), Edmonton’s Ostap Safin (53rd to Saint John)s and Florida’s Linus Nassen (119th to Medicine Hat).

Martin Necas (Jiří Grulich / Roman Kantor)

Some of these players might come over because the team that owns their NHL rights wants to get a closer look at its prospect(s). It has already been said that Texier would be going to Sweden and that Liljegren would be staying in Sweden for another year. It all depends on what an NHL team wants sometimes, whether playing against older players overseas or players their own age in the CHL. It will be interesting to see how many players report.

Getting Ready for 2018

The Import Draft is also sometimes a step for players who want to get a higher profile in their draft year. Svechnikov will be a top pick, while Khovanov and Kohler are also eligible for the 2018 Draft. In all, 37 players that are eligible in 2018 were taken on Wednesday. 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier was taken in the import draft last year so who knows what this draft will lead to for this year’s picks.

For complete results, go check out the CHL results page. How did you think your favorite team did?