Thursday, July 01, 2004


CHL Import Draft - Results and Reports

Happy Canada Day!

If you are a Xenophobic Canadian like Donald S. Cherry, the CHL Import Draft will make your skin crawl. For 'Eurofans' like me, the Import Draft is exciting news, as I get to see, first hand, some of the prospects I have been following over in Czech Republic and Slovakia. If you team has just drafted a 'mysterious' Euro player, this gives you much better access to track their progress, and see how they will do in the North American style of the game.

(Oh, I'll finish bashing the Oilers later)

The full results of the CHL Import Draft can be found here, at

Unlike the NHL draft, the CHL definitely does not follow the NHL 'rule' of take the best player available. The best and most talented players aren't always selected first, as there are many factors to consider.

1. Age - If you are a team thinking long-term, then you want to draft a 17 year-old player who will be draft eligible in 2005 (So you have them for a few years, hopefully). If you are thinking 'win now', then you would draft an 18 or 19 year old as they are more developed. Teams picking near the top of the heap tend to think long-term, so they would be slanted to pick younger.

2. Committment - Before drafting an import player, the team's GM typically (or should) reach an agreement with that particular prospect. If they cannot receive a commitment from a particular prospect, then they may pass and take someone more willing to come over.

3. $MONEY$ - This is a factor that rarely surfaces publicly, but certainly plays a role in determining which imports a CHL team can afford.
When the Giants traded for the rights to Senators prospect Jakub Klepis, his club team, Slavia Prague, wanted $100,000 to release him from his pro contract with the club. Klepis, too, also didn't want to lose out on the pro salary that he was making with Slavia, and wanted his cut as well. For some of the higher-end prospects, their club teams want to be financially compensated for losing their assets. Some of the smaller market CHL teams (like Swift Current) would have a lot more trouble paying these bribes than a team like the Giants.

So, looking at those factors, we can see why a lower-ranked prospect like Zdenek Bahensky was taken over a superior player like Andrej Meszaros.

My thoughts on yesterday's draft...

  • Zdenek Bahensky #1 to Saskatoon - If there is one prospect that should adapt well to the CHL game, it would be Rangers prospect Bahensky. Zdenek racked up 204 PIM in 52 games with his junior squad last year, and he's a very chippy player. He's a bit weak, but apparently working hard to bulk up to about 200 pounds over the next couple of years.
    The downside? His production was rather weak. For a supposed top prospect, Bahensky only had 29 points in those 52 games. It looks like Bahensky will start as a 3rd line player for the Blades and will have to work hard to prove himself as a scorer.

  • Andrej Sekera #2 to Owen Sound - Sekera has already shown that his grasp of the English language is fairly impressive, and he seems eager to come to the CHL.
    According to Darcy Regier, "When you take into account how well he speaks English and he's already talking about coming over here to play juniors, that gives you an indication he knows what he wants."
    At the start of the season, Sekera seemed to be a perfect 'European' defenseman...he was small and finesse oriented. As the season progressed, he impressed scouts with his leadership and ability to handle the physical game at big tournaments.
    As the Trencin senior squad is somewhat deep, there isn't a lot of room for Sekera there, and he's benefit greatly from a move to the CHL.

  • Roman Tomanek #4 to Calgary -
    From some comments from Tomas Egry on Tomanek from his scouting report:
    "Perhaps he could find new motivation playing in the CHL. In Tomanek�s case it is almost impossible to predict if he will have an NHL career, because it depends on so many aspects. He certainly has talent to succeed.

    As I stated before, Tomanek was a first round talent with some personal problems to overcome. He's not very motivated off of the ice, and he needs a mentor personality in his life, or a chance of scenery. Playing with 1st division Povazska Bystrica isn't the best thing for him, and I hope he does come to the CHL. He's highly skilled, and he loves to forecheck. If he does come over, I hope the Hitmen handle him with care...he seems to be the type of kid that will need a strong influence in his life to get him straightened out.

  • Giants Playing the Lotto - The Giants, who lost Lukas Pulpan to Plzen and are stuck with the very 'average' Marcin Kolusz (Minnesota draft pick), decided to throw up a prayer and draft Andrej Meszaros with the 16th pick and Marek Schwarz with the 40th pick.

    (/End Fanboy Mode)

    Well, the Giants didn't listen to my previous entry...
    "Note to CHL GM's regarding Marek Schwarz: Don't bother drafting him. Schwarz told the Czech media that he has no intention of coming to the CHL, as he wants another year in the Czech Extraliga (With HC Trinec, hell yeah!)"

    Hmm, would Schwarz rather play as a #1 goalie with a Czech League team and make good $$, or would he rather toil against weaker competition and make $50/week in meal money?

    As for Meszaros, apparently he is still high from the draft crack he was smoking, and has every intention on making the Senators whenever the next NHL season begins.

    It's great to have lofty goals, but we know he's not going to make that club on a full-time basis. So, does he stay with Trencin and play on the national team, or does he take a step back and play in the CHL? If Meszaros is really eager to please the Sens, I guess there is a slight chance that Meszaros would come over.

    According to a poster (Schlep Rock) on HFboards, the agent for both Meszaros and Schwarz, Rich Evans, has decreed that both of his clients will be joining the Giants next season.

    Did the Giants open the vast Toigo vaults?? Some behind the scenes payouts?

    Still, everything I have read from the homeland media and my trusted sources would indicate nothing of the sort. So, until I see otherwise, I'll say the Giants threw up a prayer and missed badly.

    But, if either one of these two plays for the Giants next year, I'll be happier than Tigger on Ritalin.

  • Marek Zagrapan #18 to Chicoutimi - Zagrapan is one of Slovakia's top 2005 prospects, and a Slovak prospect that I have been tracking for a couple of years.
    When he made his pro debut for Zlin in 2002-03 at the age of 16! When he made his debut, he was, by far, the youngest player in the Czech Extraleague. Of course, he's only played 18 pro games, as he's spent most of his time in the junior ranks.

    In addition to earning the 'Top Forward' Award at the Vlad Dzurilla Under-18 Tournament (4-Nations), Marek played as an underager at May's WJC18. Zagrapan played on a line with Roman Tomanek, and was one of the better forwards as he recorded 8 points in 6 games.

    According to my pal Robo Neuhauser, Zagrapan has been taking extensive English lessons and is fully prepared and willing to come to the CHL next year. Of course, now he'll have to learn some French if he's stuck in Chicoutimi :).
    Chicoutimi has done a great job in producing prospects, and I look forward to seeing Zagrapan cementing his status as a top prospect for 2005. You'll be hearing more about him from me in the future, that's for sure.

  • Jaroslav Halak to Lewiston at #24 - Halak is Slovakia's best goaltender prospect, but his Bratislava club went and signed old fart Libor Barta as a backup goaltender, leaving no room on the pro club for Halak. Jaro has expressed some interest in the CHL, as he needs to go somewhere better and get playing time. He's 19, so he'd be a one year investment for the MAINEiacs.

  • Jan Danecek to Victoriaville at #30 - The last prospect I'll talk about is a very talented, but shrimpy (5'9" 160) prospect who is similar to Rangers prospects Jan Marek and Petr Prucha (Yes, the same Prucha who was Jagr's linemate at the last World Championships). Danecek was eligible for the 2004 NHL draft, but was passed over because he's as big as Gary Coleman.

    Whatchu talkin about, Golbez?

    Danecek is a bright prospect for my favourite Czech (Trinec) team, but I always feared (for his sake) that he would be a European star with no chance at the NHL. He's just far too small and finesse oriented to succeed in the North American game.

    From Robo Neuhauser's scouting report:
    Jan Danecek impresses with his swift skating skills. He displays a fluid stride and above-average agility. Danecek accelerates well, but could use more balance on his skates. His soft hands contribute to the offensive talent, Danecek is a smooth, poised puckhandler who sees the ice quite well. He unleashes a quick wrist shot with a fast release, but could work on the hardness of his slap shot.

    A creative passer, Danecek likes the finesse style of play, when he can make fast smart passes to his linemates. Tight traffic battles cause his problems because of his severe size deficiency. Danecek is also solid in the faceoff circle, even if he is far from a faceoff specialist. On the downside, Danecek won't jump at you as a physical presence. He is just 5'9'' and his 161 lbs. aren't a frame to throw around. He can get outmuscled by the bigger opponents and this factor will be always pointing against him in a possible North American career. Jan Danecek isn't a total liability when it comes down to fulfilling the defensive duties, but he has to further improve on his defensive awareness and could block the opposing passing lanes more effectively.

    Like some other prospects spurned by the NHL, Danecek may come over to prove to these scouts that he can succeed in the North American game, thanks to his awesome mad skillz. If Danecek doesn't come over, he'll have a very hard time getting drafted, otherwise. Sure, Marek and Prucha earned themselves a draft position, but it's already too late for Marek (He's too old...too old to begin the training), while Prucha just may earn a shot in the next 2 years.


    There is still much to be decided as we have heard very little concrete news as to which prospects have confirmed their participation in the CHL next season. I'll be keeping a close on eye on this, and I'll be looking forward to seeing some of these bright European prospects showcasing themselves in the best junior league on the planet.

  • Comments:
    I think maybe you guys should get another good look at Jan Danecek. He's definetly headed in the right direction this year.
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