The first player takes in the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) Import Draft has already committed to playing in North America. Also, the United States Hockey League (USHL) honored one of its most successful teams while we profile the top-ranked defenseman of the 2020 draft class.
Battalion Get Their Man
The North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) had the first pick of Tuesday’s CHL Import Draft and used it on Russian winger Matvei Petrov. The Import Draft can be a gamble because there is never a guarantee that a player you pick will ever come over to North America and play for your team.
That isn’t the case with Petrov. He quickly agreed to join the team for the 2020-21 season and signed a contract on Wednesday.
The 17-year-old scored five goals and nine points playing in the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga (MHL), Russia’s top junior hockey league. He will join fellow countryman and MHL alum, Matvei Guskov, who the Battalion recently acquired in a trade with the London Knights. He has scored 28 goals and 60 points for the Knights over the past two seasons.
Petrov will fit in nicely with a talented group of youngsters in North Bay including Liam Arnsby, Alex Christopoulos, Brandon Coe, Luke Moncada and Mason Primeau.
Sioux Falls Receives Huge Honor
The USHL named the Sioux Falls Stampede it’s 2019-20 Organization of the Year on Thursday. This is the sixth time the Stampede has won this award since joining the league in 1999.
The Stampede drew nearly 140,000 fans to their 24 home games before the remainder of the season was canceled. They led the USHL in attendance for the eighth straight season. They had three crowds of over 8,000 fans including the home opener when the team raised their 2019 Clark Cup Championship banner.
“I am proud of our entire organization,” said team President Jim Olander in an official statement. “A lot of long hours and hard work goes into putting together a successful season. From Korey McDonald leading our sales team to our entire front office staff and coaching staff, we are privileged to have such a dedicated crew. This award would not be possible without the great support we have from the community and our fans who come out each night, win or lose, our season ticket holders and corporate partners.”
In addition to the team’s success on the ice, they were also honored for being a huge part of their local community. The Stampede donated over $200,000 to various charities including the American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish South Dakota and the South Dakota Special Olympics. They also work with the Dakota Dachshund Rescue, who is a partner for their annual Wiener Dog Races, which drew nearly 11,000 fans this past season.
The Stampede has produced 30 players who have made it to the National Hockey League including Kieffer Bellows, Alex Goligoski, Charlie Lindgren, T.J. Oshie, Nate Prosser, Chad Ruhwedel and all-time leading scorer Thomas Vanek.
Prospect of the Day: Jamie Drysdale
Since the forwards have been getting a lot of our attention recently, today we are going to take a look at one of the top defensemen of this year’s draft class. Drysdale is the third-highest ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, coming in behind only Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield.
The 2019-20 season was a crazy one for Drysdale. He started by representing the OHL at the CHL’s Canada/Russia series this past November. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship in January before playing in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game later that month. He did all of this while scoring nine goals and 47 points in 49 games for the Erie Otters.
All the extra travel and games did not affect his performance in the ice as he still played big minutes for the Otters every night. Drysdale’s biggest attribute is his speed, which allows him to get back to his own zone in the blink of an eye. Despite being a bit undersized, he still disrupts the play by using his active stick to create turnovers.
Related – 2020 NHL Draft Guide
When he does have the puck, he is a weapon. Drysdale can move the puck quickly up the ice with either his legs or a crisp pass out of the zone. He is never afraid to fire off a shot on goal when given the chance, but he needs to work on his accuracy.
Our own Mark Scheig, who watched a lot of OHL hockey in person this past season, thinks Drysdale will be one of the top picks of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
“Drysdale is the best defenseman available in this draft. The question is how high will he go. Most of the industry has him well within the top-10 with some having him as high as third overall. He checks in at fourth overall for me. A lot of this will depend on how the draft lottery shakes out. If a team is starving for a defenseman and they pick third, they’ll take a long look at Drysdale. If he starts falling past seventh, trade up if you can.”
It is a rather safe bet that Drysdale will be the first blueliner selected whenever the draft occurs. His ceiling is very high as he can be both a shutdown defender and a dangerous power-play quarterback. Whichever team selects him will likely have a special player for years to come.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.