100 games a season: Gare Joyce's puck blog

Just like being in the scouts' & press' lounge, without the bad coffee and day-old Timbits

Location: Toronto

I've written for ESPN The Magazine and espn.com the last five years. My work has made the "notable" list of the Best American Sports Writing seven times and won four Canadian National Magazine Awards. My most recent book is Future Greats and Heartbreaks: A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts. I've written three other sports books: When the Lights Went Out: How One Brawl Ended Hockey's Cold War and Changed the Game; Sidney Crosby: Taking the Game by Storm; and The Only Ticket Off the Island: Baseball in the Dominican Republic.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

2006 CHL Import Draft: Taking Attendance

In a previous post we looked at an old CHL Euro draft; here's the latest.

Again, what I said about the inefficiency of the Euro draft stands--it's not the weakest teams getting the best available talent, but rather what deal can be cooked (and who has the gelt to land the prizes). There is a rich-get-richer aspect to something that is supposed to be a force to competitive balance. What is interesting, though, is how many more players are drafted and reporting, better than 90 percent at the top end. Which suggests that jr teams are doing their homework--and realize that getting a lesser player is better than rolling the dice on a high-end guy who brushes you off. Interestingly, though you see more guys report, you see a lot head home quickly and you see a lot of marginal guys--can't imagine that they're much of an improvement on what would be available with the domestic guys. In other words, an apparently higher batting percentage in getting them over here but perhaps even less bang for the buck.

1. Halifax Mooseheads (from Rimouski), Jakub Voracek, RW, Kladno Jrs. (Czech Republic)
clearly the best player available going to a team with deep pockets, early season top-ranked North American skater, No. 15 in the latest, better than a point a game player for Halifax

2. Chilliwack Bruins, Oscar Moller, RW, Djurgarden (Sweden);
reported, almost a point a game player, 35th ranked NA skater by Central

3. Toronto-St. Michael's Majors (from Sarnia), F, Kaspars Daugavins (Latvia);
reported, not a surprise since Melnyk-owned Senators drafted him in third round, Majors have noted spike in beer sales with Latvian influence

4. Saint John Sea Dogs, David Stich, D, Plzen (Czech Republic);
reported, 73rd NA skater by Central

5. Spokane Chiefs, Ondrej Roman, C, Vitkovice (Czech Republic).
reported, playmaker not scorer

6. Owen Sound Attack (from Ottawa), Tomas Kana, C, Vitkovice (Czech Republic);
did not report, St Louis second-rounder, 31st overall, late '87, so no more bites at the apple, have to believe that there was a breakdown in communication (or maybe a broken promise), hard to eat the sixth pick though maybe getting Trevor Lewis makes it easier to swallow

7. Victoriaville Tigres, Jan Kolarik, LW, Vitkovice (Czech Republic);
reported, late 88

8. Red Deer Rebels, Kirill Starkov, LW, Frolunda (Russia);
reported, point a game player, jumping from Sweden to CHL, sixth-rounder of Columbus in '05

9. Peterborough Petes (from Mississauga), Branislav Rehus, RW, Ostrava (Slovakia);
reported, saw him once, pretty good junior player, maybe a 30-goal guy in the league next year, early season sorta in the 20s as draft-eligible OHL skater, first PK guy, coach said he was easy to coach (which was probably a good thing when Downie and Ryder were there), 129th NA skater by Central

10. Victoriaville Tigres (from P.E.I.), Morten Madsen, LW, Frolunda (Sweden).
Minnesota's fourth-rounder in 05, reported, 26 goals-53 assists at this writing, Danish kid, Denmark being an area of increasing interest

11. Prince Albert Raiders, Lukas Zeliska, C, Trinec (Slovakia);
reported, Rangers' 7th-rounder last year, three goals at this writing, suppose he was all they could set up in advance, aiming pretty low

12. Erie Otters, Stanislav Polodna, C, Ceske Budejovica (Czech Republic);
reported, draft eligible this year, eight goals as of this writing

13. Gatineau Olympiques (from Val-d'Or via Quebec), David Kveton, C, Vsetin (Czech Republic); reported, another Rangers pick, fourth-rounder, better than point a game but has played in only 16 games as of this writing

14. Swift Current Broncos, David Stieler, C, Kladno Jrs. (Czech Republic);
reported, saw him, serviceable junior player but nothing special

15. Kitchener Rangers (from Sault Ste. Marie), Yannick Weber, D, Bern (Switzerland).
reported, NHL undrafted 88, offensive upside, 30 pts in 37 games at this writing, 58th-ranked North American skater by Central, made most of coming over

16. Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Radek Vlasanek, RW, Vitkovice (Czech Republic);
didn't report, whereabouts unknown at this point

17. Calgary Hitmen (from Lethbridge), Robin Figren, LW, Frolunda (Sweden);
reported, Isles third rounder last year, not making an impact so far

18. Windsor Spitfires, Marek Biro, D, Trnava (Slovakia);
reported, NHL undrafted 88

19. Chicoutimi Sagueneens (from St. John's), Kirill Tulupov, D, Alemetjevsk (Russia);
Jersey's third-rounder 2006, reported

20. Tri-City Americans, Juraj Valach, D, Zvolen Jrs. (Slovakia).
reported, 89 birthday

21. Ottawa 67's (from Windsor), Lukas Flueler, G, Kloten (Switzerland);
reported, back-up but numbers pretty good, 17th NA netminder by Central

22. Quebec Remparts (from Halifax via Rimouski), Ruslan Bashkirov, RW, Moscow Spartak (Russia);
reported, point a game player, 89 birthday, 48th ranked NA skater

23. Brandon Wheat Kings, Juraj Simek, RW, Kloten (Switzerland);
reported, Slovak Vancouver's sixth-rounder last year, point a game player

24. Oshawa Generals (from Owen Sound), RW, Ziga Pance, Olimpija (Slovenia);
reported, one goal in fifteen games at this writing, birthdate: Jan 1, 89

25. Shawinigan Cataractes, Patrik Prokop, D, Vitkovice (Czech Republic).
reported, won player of the week honours in Oct

26. Portland Winter Hawks, Viktor Sjodin, LW, Vasteras Jrs. (Sweden);
reported, late draft choice of Nashville, not every day you see a Guyanese-Swedish guy

27. Plymouth Whalers (from Belleville), Michal Neuvirth, G, HC Sparta Prague (Czech Republic);
reported, playing nearly lights-out for Whalers, creates interesting situation for Caps' long-term cage plans, what with him being the 2006 second-rounder and, same draft, Caps landing with 15th pick overall G Semen Varlamov, the kid who starred for Russia at world juniors this year, I like Plymouth to make some noise in playoffs

28. Quebec Remparts (from Drummondville via Gatineau), Roman Bashkirov, W, Moscow Spartak (Russia);
reported, playing well, point-a-game 89 birthday

29. Kamloops Blazers, Juuso Puustinen, RW, Kalpa Jrs. (Finland);
reported, Calgary fifth-rounder, 28 goals in 51 games at this writing

30. Toronto-St. Michael's Majors, Kriss Grundmanis, D, Riga (Latvia).
reported, as previously noted about Latvians and beer sales

31. St. John's Fog Devils (from Lewiston), Mario Kempe, RW, Modo Jrs. (Sweden);
reported, 18 goals in almost 50 games, 65th NA skater

32. Seattle Thunderbirds, Radek Meidl, C, Extraliga (Czech Republic);
late 88, reported, not making much of a dent

33. Saginaw Spirit (from Sudbury), Jan Mursak, RW, Budejovice (Czech Republic);
reported, Detroit draft, saw him today pick up a couple in Mississauga, great hands (Ginsu knife style deflection on a goal, thought he had sent the puck into the net in two pieces)

34. Moncton Wildcats (from Cape Breton), Roopertti Martikainen, LW, IFK Helsinki (Finland);
reported, now with Acadie-Bathurst, 89 birthday

35. Prince George Cougars, Patrik Vrana, D, Sparta Praha (Czech Republic).
reported, moved over to Moose Jaw, no points, maybe toast

36. Saginaw Spirit, Tomas Zaborsky, LW, Trencin (Slovakia);
Rangers fifth-rounder last year, reported, decent player

37. P.E.I. Rocket (from Gatineau), Martin Latal, RW, Kladno (Czech Republic);
Phoenix fifth-rounder, reported, 36 points in 52 games

38. Everett Silvertips, Lukas Vartovnik, C, Zlin Jrs. (Czech Republic);
reported, on fringe, bit player, draft eligible

39. Plymouth Whalers, Jozef Sladok, D, Zvolen (Slovakia);
reported, non-entity

40. P.E.I. Rocket (from Rouyn-Noranda), Peter Cmorej, LW, Sante Fe (Slovakia).
reported, hanging on

41. Regina Pats, Niko Snellman, LW, Ilves Jrs. (Finland);
reported, Nashville fourth-rounder, fringe

42. Kingston Frontenacs, Robert Nyholm, RW, IFK Helsinkia Jrs. (Finland);
reported, Columbus fifth-rounder last year, 30 pts in 50 games

43. Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Dmitri Fedosenko, C, Moscow Dynamo (Russia);
don't see him

44. Saskatoon Blades, Rastislav Konecny, LW, Trnava Jrs. (Slovakia);
reported, 22 pts in 33 games, not NHL drafted

45. Guelph Storm, Arturs Ozolins, LW, Saga (Latvia).
reported, nine games, no pts, ticket home

46. Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Juraj Mikus, C, Skaliga Jrs. (Slovakia);
Montreal fourth rounder 05, reported, better than pt a game, Canadiens delivering talent for backyard

47. Kootenay Ice, Arnaud Jacquemet, RW, Biel (Switzerland);
reported, 13 goals in 49 games

48. Peterborough Petes (from Barrie), Arturs Kulda, D, Ceska (Latvia);
Thrasher seventh rounder last year, reported

49. Val-d'Or Foreurs (from Quebec), passed;

50. Moose Jaw Warriors, Richard Rapac, LW, Zlin (Czech Republic).
reported, MJ to PG, undrafted 87, six goals in 50 games, non-player

51. Sudbury Wolves (from Brampton), Patrik Lusnak, C, HK Skalica (Slovakia);
late 88, reported

52. Moncton Wildcats, Igor Voroshilov, LW, Moscow Dynamo (Russia);
reported, Aug 89 b-date, one goal in 11 games, ticket home

53, Kelowna Rockets, Robert Capcara, LW, Czech Jrs. (Czech Republic);
don't see him

54, Kitchener Rangers, passed;

55. Tri-City Americans (from Vancouver), Daniel Bartek, C, Olomouc Under-20 (Czech Republic);
Tri's imports booked, Bartek reported, in Brandon

56. Mississauga IceDogs (from Peterborough), Aleksander Ilyin, D, Tver (Russia);
don't see him

57. Prince Albert Raiders (from Calgary), Milan Jurik, LW, Banska Bysterica Jrs. (Slovakia);
reported, will not hit double digits for goals

58. London Knights, Adam Hasani, LW, Freibourg Jrs. (Switzerland);
reported, Knights to Otters as London goes to D man for Euro, 89 b-day

59. Medicine Hat Tigers, Jakub Rumpel, F, HC Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic).
reported, 87 b-day, undrafted, little guy, on fringe of good team


60. Chilliwack Bruins, Aki Kangasmaki, C, Lukkorauma (Finland);
reported, big, mean-looking guy, go to team website 'cause this guy makes Ollie Jokinen look like Brad Pitt, 2007 NHL draft

61. Kelowna Rockets (from Spokane), Kaspars Saulietis, F, HK Riga (Latvia);
don't see him

62. Saskatoon Blades (from Red Deer), Bohdan Visnak, D, HC Slava Prague (Czech Republic);
reported, playing, 5-9

63. Portland Winter Hawks (from Prince Albert), Stefan Langwieder, D, Mannheim (Germany);
reported, great example of how it's done from website which notes his coach in Germany was a team-mate of Hawks assistant coach

64. Seattle Thunderbirds (from Swift Current), Jan Eberle, C, Kladno (Czech Republic);
reported, 14 goals as of this writing, 89, ranked 116th NA skater by Central

65. Kamloops Blazers (from Lethbridge), Ivan Rohac, LW, Ceske Budejovica Jrs. (Czech Republic).
reported, tiny

66. St. John's Fog Devils, Joonas Salmi, D, Liptovsky (Slovakia);
reported, not loved, mail being forwarded

67. Windsor Spitfires, passed;

68. Brandon Wheat Kings, Igor Musatov, LW, Spartak 2 (Russia);
Brandon's imports spoken for, hasn't left home

69. Belleville Bulls, Michal Gazur, D, Zvolen Jrs. (Slovakia);
don't see him

70. Sudbury Wolves, Jakub Korinek, D, HC Plzen (Czech Republic).
reported, Sudbury to London

71. Medicine Hat Tigers, Alexi Provkin, D, Himick Voskresensk (Russia).
reported, ticket home