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Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Hurricanes Gearing Up For CHL Import Draft
Hurricanes Assistant GM Brad Robson
The Canadian Hockey League is getting set for it's 2012 Import Draft which will take place on Wednesday June 27th.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have the 17th overall selection. Sherbrooke of the QMJHL will pick first followed by the Prince Albert Raiders. Other WHL teams to select before Lethbridge include Prince George at Number 5, Seattle with the 8th pick, Everett at 11, and Victoria will select 14th. Of course, there's always an opportunity for teams to move up in the pecking order with a trade.
I had a chance this week to speak with Hurricanes Assistant GM and Director of Player Personnel, Brad Robson to discuss the Import Draft and to see what direction this team will be going in. Right now, the Canes have two Euros, defenceman Albin Blomqvist of Sweden who didn't see a lot of playing time last season because of sickness and injury and forward Juraj Bezuch of Slovakia who started to improve his play in the last few months of last season. If the Hurricanes are to make that 17th overall pick and keep that player, they'd have to either drop or trade either Blomqvist or Bezuch is order to make room.
Pat: Brad, with the 17th overall selection in this years Import draft, which way are the Lethbridge Hurricanes leaning right now?
Robson: "Well Pat, we have a very strong list of import players just because of the world juniors in Calgary and Edmonton recently, then the under 17's held in Calgary with teams from Finland, Sweden and the top teams in Canada and the U.S. and of course there were some European teams at the Mac's Tournament as well. This is probably the deepest list of Europeans we've ever had in the 4 years I've been with the Hurricanes, so that's a positive. Rich (Preston) and I have talked a lot with player agents and so now we have to wait for the NHL draft. A lot hinges on European players being drafted and which NHL teams draft those players, so that comes into play big time for us. Like I said, we've been in contact with plenty of agents and have a strong list. We've also been talking with other teams in our league about potential trades, although we have nothing on the go right now. We're ready! We have a high pick. We can either keep the two players (Euros) that we have or move one of those players. With the 17th pick, we're going to get a pretty good player. I know a couple of teams have had trouble bringing Europeans over and some of those teams were in contact with us at the Bantam draft and we are in touch with those teams. There are some teams that only have one import player currently as well. I think though, for us, with this 17th overall pick, if we draft a player we'll only select in the first round, which is the high selection."
Pat: Brad, I think Calgary is a good example of what choosing the right import players can do for a hockey team at this level. How important is getting it right for the Lethbridge Hurricanes?
Robson: "Well it sure can change your team. You have to get the right Europeans, the ones that want to come over here, want to improve, blend in and learn the culture in North America, and the language. It's a huge adjustment, especially when you're dealing with 17 and 18 year old kids. Maturity factor comes into play too. We've watched all the kids on our list and just getting background from scouts, and coaches, and getting the right player who wants to come over here and play in the WHL."
Pat: One last thing, not Euro draft related. But The Hurricanes currently have six overage players on the roster, including: Rimmer, Buonassisi, Johnston, Hood, Kizuik, and Oslanski. Anything going to be done in that regard before the season starts?
Robson: "Yeah, we've talked to teams at the Bantam draft about some of our 20 year olds. Rich and I had a meeting earlier this week for a couple of hours and I think we'll probably go with 4 20's into training camp and then deal one and probably deal two before training camp roles around."