(Courtesy of Rob Henderson, Brandon Sun) -- The pieces are falling into place for Czech forward Richard Nejezchleb to join the Brandon Wheat Kings in time for training camp.
Wheat Kings general manager Kelly McCrimmon said the 6-foot-2, 187-pound right-winger, who was drafted by Brandon with the 35th overall pick in this year’s Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, has committed to Brandon and now the club is waiting for the paperwork to clear. "Nejezchleb has signed his transfer card which is encouraging and now (the card) needs to go to Hockey Canada, who in turn will secure his release from the IIHF, but at this point we see no obstacles," McCrimmon said. "We anticipate that he’ll be here for training camp in August along with (Swiss forward) Alessio Bertaggia, who of course returns from last year."
Nejezchleb, 18, had 11 goals and 23 points in 24 games with the HC Slavia Praha under-20 squad last season and also played nine games with the Czech national under-18 team, tallying a goal and two points.
New Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk believes Nejezchleb’s international experience can be valuable to what is projected to be a young group of Brandon forwards.
"He’s an older guy who has played at a very high level overseas and I think (from) the reports we’ve got on him and hearing Kelly talk about him, he’s going to be a guy who can come in and play some time," Gylywoychuk said. "… We’re going to be a little bit younger in front and I think having an older guy like that (will be beneficial). He’s a big-size player, so we’re going to look for him to be able to come in and contribute as much as he can. The biggest thing is we want to make sure that he comes here, he gets comfortable, gets to know his teammates, gets to know the organization and he can play like he can play."
With proven Western Hockey League scorers like Mark Stone, Mike Ferland and Kevin Sundher expected to play professionally next season, the Wheat Kings believe that they have young talent in the organization that can contribute right away, but Gylywoychuk said the efforts of returning forwards will also be key to the club’s competitiveness.
"The biggest thing in junior hockey is about the transition from year to year," he said. "We lost some key players that put a lot of pucks in the net for us last year, but the way that me and (assistant coach Darren Ritchie) are looking at it, we’re looking at opportunity for a lot of people to come in. You’ve got the Dominick Favreaus, Alessio — those guys are going to come in, they’re going to have the opportunity to take a little bit more responsibility and we’re going to give them that responsibility to try and lead the team."
McCrimmon said the team is also working on securing a commitment from 17-year-old Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League scoring champion Geordie Maguire, who was acquired from the Everett Silvertips in the trade that sent the rights to goaltender Brandon Anderson west. He said the key to those discussions is ensuring that Maguire’s education here can be meshed with his requirements for his current high school, St. Paul’s, in Winnipeg.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 9, 2012