Junior Hockey News & Rumors: CHL Import Draft, Tuomaala Stay in Finland & More

Even without hockey being played, it was another big week of news for those following junior hockey and the game’s prospects. While the CHL held its annual Import Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights made noise signing a WHL graduate to an entry-level contract.

As such, we combed through all the good, bad and the ugly to bring you another edition of junior hockey’s news, notes and headlines to keep you posted during the ongoing pandemic.

With that, here’s a look at some of the top stories from the past week.

Summarizing the CHL Import Draft

On Tuesday, June 30, the CHL’s Import Draft took place and saw 50 of its teams take 66 players from 11 different countries. Russia led the way with 15 players selected from their country, while the other countries included Czech Republic (13), Slovakia (9), Belarus (8), Finland (8), Switzerland (4), Sweden (3), Denmark (2), Latvia (2), Germany (1) and Slovenia (1).

According to the CHL, the 66 players selected is the lowest number of players taken since 2011, when only 62 players were selected by CHL clubs. This year’s draft also saw 10 teams pass in the first round – which was the first time it happened since 2000.

Highlights from the draft included the North Bay Battalion taking Russian forward Matvei Petrov first overall. He’s a 17-year-old eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft and becomes the first Russian selected with the top pick since 2017 when Andrei Svechnikov went number one.

The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan took an 18-year-old goaltender second overall in Jan Bednar, while it’s also worth noting that the London Knights took the lone German, JJ Peterka with the 55th overall selection – an eligible prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft.

Battalion Sign Petrov

Sticking with the Import Draft for a moment, the Battalion were also able to sign their first overall selection – Petrov.

Petrov tallied five goals and nine points in 21 regular season games with the MHL’s MHK Kayla Sovetov Moskva in 2019-20 and added nine points in nine games for the Russian U17 team.

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Already with a connection to newly acquired Battalion Matvey Guskov, Petrov should add some much needed offence to the Battalion when the OHL gets back underway.

“He’s an extremely electrifying player, can shoot the puck, has high end skill, and he’s going to want to score goals,” said Battalion head coach Ryan Oylahen. “He’s the hockey addiction type of player that we want in our program right now.”

Ottawa 67’s Sign Gaidamak

As for other OHL signings, the Ottawa 67’s have reported inked their first-round selection from the CHL Import Draft – Vsevolod Gaidamak. Another 17-year-old Russian, Gaidamak had 12 goals and 24 points in 15 regular season games for Spartak St. Petersburg U17 team – a team he also captained in 2019-20.

Gaidamak is a six-foot centre that will give the 67’s some good size down the middle and also gives them a player who has an innate ability to make plays.

“We believe that we can add a big, strong centre with great vision and playmaking abilities in Vsevolod Gaidamak,” said 67’s GM James Boyd of their first-round pick.

Michael Renwick Headed to Windsor

The OHL also saw a trade on Tuesday as the Windsor Spitfires acquired 2002-born defenceman Michael Renwick from the Hamilton Bulldogs in exchange for a second-round pick in 2022, a second-round pick in 2024 and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2024.

Michael Renwick of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Michael Renwick is a 2020 NHL Draft eligible prospect. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Renwick – who is a 2020 NHL Draft eligible prospect – had three goals and 17 points in 59 games for the Bulldogs in 2019-20 to go along with 42 penalty minutes and a plus-two rating. 

He was a second-round pick, 34th overall, by the Bulldogs at the 2018 OHL Priority Selection and has 20 points in 77 OHL games so far.

Samu Tuomaala Not Made for Sudbury

As for some disappoint news out of the OHL, it looks as though Finnish forward Samu Tuomaala won’t be making any sort of move to North America. It was reported on Friday that the Finn had signed a two-year deal with Liiga’s Kärpät.

The Sudbury Wolves selected Tuomaala in the first round, 31st overall, of Tuesday’s CHL Import Draft, which certainly stings for the OHL club.

Tuomaala had 15 goals and 23 points in 40 regular season games with Kärpät U20 in 2019-20 and added five goals and nine points for Finland’s U18 team. Tuomaala is considered to be a probable first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Wyatt Wilson Anointed a Royal

Heading to the West Coast, the Victoria Royals acquired the rights to 2003-born and unsigned defenceman Wyatt Wilson from the Swift Current Broncos in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2023 WHL Bantam Draft.

In 2019-20, Wilson had six goals and 33 points in 44 regular season games for the Moose Jaw Warriors U18 AAA team.

At six-foot-two and just under 200 pounds, Wilson adds some size to the Royals back end with the ability to get on the scoresheet as well.

Originally a sixth-round draft pick of the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2018, Wilson joins his younger brother Anthony who is also in the Royals’ organization. Anthony was selected in the third round, 59th overall, by the Royals in this year’s draft.

Golden Knights Sign Patera

Sticking with the WHL, the Vegas Golden Knights announced on Tuesday that they signed former Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Jiri Patera to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The 21-year-old was taken by the Golden Knights in the sixth round, 161st overall in 2017 and is a big goalie, standing at six-foot-two and just over 200 pounds.

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Patera played 41 games for the Wheat Kings in 2019-20, coming away with a 24-12-4 record, a 2.55 goals against average and .921 save percentage. He was also named to the WHL’s First All-Star Team, after being named the WHL’s Eastern Conference Goaltender of the Year.

Patera came over after the Wheat Kings took him in the second round, 104th overall, in the 2018 CHL Import Draft. As for the contract, it’s a three-year deal worth $2.4 million and carries and annual average value (AAV) of $800,000.

That’s all we have for now, but be sure to check back for more junior hockey coverage next week as hockey could be just around the corner.