Thursday, June 30, 2005


CHL Import Draft: Mihalik, Bliznak, Bartanus

Now that the CHL Import Draft is complete, I have a few thoughts about some of selections. I'll be commenting on a 'piecemeal' basis over the next few days.

I want to bring up some points that I talked about last year, because they are still very much relevant this time around.

What to look for when selecting a European prospect for your CHL franchise?

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 2006 (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. I will add to this by adding a CHL teams relationship with an agency stable is also very important. The Giants used their good relationships to help get Marek Schwarz and Andrej Meszaros to come to the CHL. It's important for a CHL team to have the agent working with them to get interested players to commit.

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. More and more, European club teams are nticing their top prospects with pro contract offers.
Some of the smaller market CHL teams (like Swift Current) would have a lot more trouble paying these fees than a team like the Giants.

Now, with that said, there is a big difference in this year's draft as the NHL has not yet held their entry draft. We do not know where many of these kids will end up in the NHL scheme of things, and the newly-drafted players will have to wait awhile until their NHL teams talk to their agents regarding their future plans.

Now, I want to mention a few of the selections.

1. Marek Bartanus LW/C, 10th to Owen Sound - The big 6'3" forward finds himself squeezed out of Kosice as his club team went out and signed a lot of good veteran forwards this spring. Bartanus all but admitted that he was on the outs and was open to coming to the CHL. Bartanus is a big guy who was good in league games and disappointing in International competition. There is a lot of upside in this kid, and he was looked at to be the top European-based prospect for Slovakia.

2. Vladimir Mihalik D, 36th to Red Deer - It won't be hard to miss this kid since he's a whopping 6'7" 220+lbs. Last summer, he looked like a big slug who couldn't skate well and wouldn't hit people. One year later, his good WJC18 performance showed us that he improved his conditioning, footwork, and mean streak. Mihalik should benefit from the smaller ice surface (ala Valabik) and he's the big 'home-run' swing type prospect. Unlike Boris Valabik and Kristian Kudroc, Mihalik won't be a first rounder. I'd expect Mihalik to go around the 4th or 5th round.

3. Mario Bliznak C, 27th to the Vancouver Giants - Frequent readers of this site will remember how Spartak Dubnica was the laughing stock of the Slovak Extraleague. They won less than the Washington Generals versus the Harlem Globetrotters. Since Zvolen's 'farm' team won the First Division, Dubnica managed to keep their Extraleague spot. So, what does Dubnica do? They sell their spot to MHC Martin and then disband their senior team's operations altogether.

Bliznak tore up the Slovak junior league, and fortunately only played 13 games (with a -9 rating) for the awful senior squad. All of these factors, combined with Vancouver's sparking track record with agents, leads me to believe Bliznak is a lock to be here next season. I'll talk about him more in the future, obviously.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?