Monday, July 2, 2012

Interesting Import Draft

The CHL's import draft has come and gone and this year it was interesting for a number of reasons.  In the past the CHL's so called 'big boys'  have moved to the top of the list because the have nots haven't been able to convince certain players to play for them.  Goaltenders aren't always high on the list either, but both of those things changed.

It started with Prince Albert, Erie and Prince George keeping their picks and taking a stand if you will against how the event has been ran in the past.  Erie and PG took goaltenders, in the top 5 to boot, and both teams expect their pipemen (both Columbus picks) to show up.  This draft wasn't always about selecting the best player, but rather the one you could convince to come over.

Saturday we were joined by Erie G.M. Sherry Bassin who, with the 3rd pick, plucked Swedish goaltender Oscar Dansk, a guy some think was the best goalie available at the NHL draft.  There are always whispers regarding where players are going and some will say 'for how much'?   Sherry cleared it up telling us you can only pay the allotted transfer fee, $2,000.

"First of all, all the stuff I hear about this money is all rumours to me I don't know how factual it is but to me, no ones getting special treatment on my team when I've got good Canadian kids there getting what their allowed, so they'll get the same thing, plus a $2,000 league transfer fee."

Bassin added they pay for all players to go home at Christmas, and even though it's a little longer of a trip, that applies to their European players as well.

"You know I gotta go in that room and look these guys in the eye."
photo by Jef

There were, as usual, pre-draft rumblings about where Dansk was going to go and the main team rhymes with the city hosting this year's Olympics.

"We just took the best player...... you know I heard all the rumours about other teams and people making deals and if you know my personality then you know it didn't bother me."

Bassin is also looking forward to quashing rumours about pay for play or stopping a team if they are breaking the rules when it comes to paying for players.

"Make no mistake I'm on the CHL executive and the OHL board and I'll be pushing to want some of these guys investigated."

The Otters taking Dansk brings up another issue, how it effects Canadian goaltenders.  It's a subject we have discussed several times on TPS as well.

"I think there is an issue there to talk about.  11 out of the 20 teams in the OHL have Euro or American goalies. We aren't developing goalies, and that could be one of the reasons.  And I'll be one of the first guys to talk about it.  Specifically after Oscar Dansk is done with his career ha ha.  That (import goalies) might be a factor but we have to start developing goalies earlier, you don't become  a goaltender at 17."

As mentioned, the Prince George Cougars called out a European goaltender with the 5th overall pick.  Joonas Koripsalo, who like Dansk was a Columbus Blue Jacket draft pick a few weeks ago.
"It was a good year for goalies with Dansk and Vasilevski out there as well, and you saw Swift Current and Medicine hat both took goalies to" said Cougars Assistant G.M. Wade Klippenstein. "Our league lost some good goalies by graduating to the next level and it's a chance for us to fill a need."

Last season Drew Owsley played 64 games for Prince George, can an 18 year old Finnish goaltender fill that void?

"We fully anticipate him coming in and winning the job, it's a pretty good asset to have.  2 years ago we took (Martin) Marincin first overall who became a pretty good player in the WHL and will hopefully be a pretty good player for the Oilers."

Speaking to another CHL management source on the condition of anonymity when it comes to the import draft we're told while it's not as bad as people think, there are some sketchy tactics.

"The Vasilevski kid reportedly would have cost 6 figures..."

If that was true, then maybe it would explain him falling to the mid 40's.  Hypothetically speaking, maybe none was willing to pay and at the risk of not getting drafted they relented.  Again, hypothetically speaking.

Maybe it was just a case of him having a contract in Russia that CHL teams are wary of trying to extract him from.  Or simply it's a case of Vasilevski being undecided, much like 14 year olds in the bantam draft who are on the fence about the CHL or the NCAA.

When asked about a pay for play scenario, Klippenstein was in the same boat as us.

"I just like you have access to social media and you hear things, but I hope it's not true."

Like Sherry Bassin, for whom he once played for in the AHL, Klippenstein doesn't see a problem with European goalies taking the spots of Canadians... right now.

"In the short term I don't see the urgency or concern, there are some very good goalies in Europe that are finally coming over."

When asked the same question my CHL source shrugged it off.

"I've never heard anybody stand up for defencemen when a guy comes over from Europe.   Maybe it's the goaltenders Union...we want the best players, why wouldn't we include goalies in that."

That's a philosophy I tend to agree with.  Better goalies will produce better shooters, and in the process force Canadian goalies adapt and become better.

And more teams keeping their import picks and making selection makes a better draft and CHL.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It may be an offbeat American perspective, but it seems like Canadian goalies are over-coached. From watching some CHL games and the World Juniors the Canadian kids have the fundamentals, but don't have a scramble ability and are incredibly formulaic. Goalies from other nations who may not have had that in-depth coaching seem to be more athletic and capable of handling the bounces and scrambles better. The fundamentals can be taught at any level. But the athleticism and ability to naturally make a save need to be learned when they start playing, and a strict adherence to the the fundamentals early on may be crippling that ability.