Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League has announced details for the 27th annual Import Draft, scheduled for Thursday, and the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings plan to make two selections.
The two-round draft will take place online with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three leagues using an inverse order of final regular season standings within each league from the 2017-18 season. The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs hold the number one pick, followed by the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings at number two, and the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves who will select third overall.
For the first time in five years, European goalkeepers will be eligible for selection.
The Wheat Kings, who finished the 2017-18 season in fourth place in the WHL’s Eastern Division with a record of 40-27-3-2, will have the 37th overall choice in round one and because Martin Kaut was chosen in round one (16th overall) by Colorado in this year’s National Hockey League Draft, Brandon will be permitted to select another import in round two.
Kaut was the Wheat Kings first round selection in last year’s Import Draft but instead of coming to North America, he played in 38 regular season games in the Czech Professional League, scoring nine goals and 16 points.
Meanwhile defenceman Daniel Bukac, who was the Wheat Kings second round selection in 2016, has been released by the club and will be eligible to any CHL club on Thursday.
A seventh round pick of the Boston Bruins, Bukac scored two goals, 25 points and accumulated 78 penalty minutes in 111 games with Brandon.
Bukac was the lone import to occupy a roster spot with the Wheat Kings over the course of the last two years and was one of five players from the Czech Republic to have played in Brandon, joining the likes of Richard Nejezchleb, Jakub Sindel, Jirki Jakes and Jan Fadrny.
Each team in the CHL is permitted to dress and play a maximum of two import players each season who are selected annually through the CHL Import Draft.
Since the CHL established the annual Import Draft in 1993, Brandon has selected a total of thirty-two players. The last time that the Wheat Kings had a pick this high was in 2014 when Brandon opted for Russian blueliner Ivan Provorov (30th overall).
Provorov is one of seventeen players chosen by the Wheat Kings in the opening round that have gone on to play for Brandon.
Joining Provorov, who currently stars for the Philadelphia Flyers, are Rihards Bukarts, Alessio Bertaggia, Toni Rajala, Alexander Urbom, John Wikner, Sami Sandel, Ole Kristian Tollefsen, Andrei Lupandin, Gerhard Unterluggauer, Oleg Tverdovsky as well as Nejezchleb, Sindel, Jakes and Fadrny.
A total of 12 players acquired through the CHL Import Draft were recently selected in the 2018 NHL Draft led by top CHL pick Andrei Svechnikov, a Russian forward from the Barrie Colts, chosen second overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. Other first round picks from the CHL Import Draft included Czech forward Filip Zadina of the Halifax Mooseheads chosen sixth overall by the Detroit Red Wings, Swedish defenceman Rasmus Sandin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds chosen 29th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Russian defenceman Alexander Alexeyev of the Red Deer Rebels chosen 31st overall by the Washington Capitals.
Last season a total of 72 players were selected from 11 different countries led by 19 players from Russia and consisting of 50 forwards and 22 defencemen.
Thursday’s CHL Import Draft will cap off a busy week for the Wheat Kings, who unveiled their 2018-19 regular season schedule on Tuesday.
The Wheat Kings will open up the season with a home and home series with Moose Jaw, beginning Friday, September 21st at Westoba Place.