Brandon, MB. -- The Brandon Wheat Kings were busy Wednesday morning as the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft was held.
In addition to selecting a talented 18-year old right-winger from the Czech Republic, the Western Hockey League club traded their second first round pick to the Edmonton Oil Kings.
With the 35th overall pick in Wednesday's draft, Brandon general manager Kelly McCrimmon opted for Richard Nejezchleb. Then moments later, the Wheat Kings sent their other first round pick (38th overall), obtained last year from the Saskatoon Blades to Edmonton for a fifth round selection in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.
A 6'2" 187 lb native of Prague, Nejezchleb is coming off a solid 2011-12 campaign that saw him score eleven goals and 23 points in 24 regular season games for HC Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic U20 League. As well, he scored four goals and 6 points in three games in the U18 Elite League and a goal and two points in nine international games with the National U18 Team.
"We have very good reports on Richard," McCrimmon says. "We feel that we've improved our team today...and fully expect him to play in Brandon this winter."
Nejezchleb, who will be eligible for the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft, was ranked 72nd among European players by NHL Central Scounting this past season.
As a 16-year old in 2010-11, he averaged more than a point per game with HC Slavia with 22 goals and 38 points in thirty-six games.
Meanwhile Brandon's other import next season will be 19-year old Swiss left-winger Alessio Bertaggia. A member of Switzerland's World Junior team last season, Bertaggia is coming off an outstanding rookie season that saw him score 24 goals and 50 points in 64 regular season games. He was also chosen the Wheat Kings' Rookie of the Year for 2011-12.
Brandon made Wednesday's selection after learning that 19-year old right-winger Bruno Mraz had signed a professional contract with a club team in his native Slovakia on Monday.
The Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League owned the first pick in Wednesday's draft and opted for Russian left-winger Ivan Barbashev. The Prince Albert Raiders were next and went with German left-winger Leon Draisaitl. The Oil Kings with the 38th overall pick meanwhile chose left-winger Edgars Kulda.
The CHL Import Draft will continue throughout the day.
In other Wheat Kings' news, the hockey club's 2011-12 schedule will be unveiled later today by the WHL.