Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2011 CHL Import Draft Preparation: Looking Back at 2010

Well, the CHL season is nearing its end and most teams are either pushing for a playoff spot, looking to lock down a division win, or letting their youth log minutes in preparation for next year. That said, the CHL has seen many of its import players play pivotal roles in their teams' successes.

In doing my homework for my 2011 Import Draft rankings, I noticed the CHL had some particularly useful information regarding last year's Import Draft.
Draft Picks by Position:
Forward – 46
Defence – 19
Goaltender – 6

Draft Picks by NHL Status:
2009 Drafted – 1
2010 Drafted – 6
2011 Eligible – 61
2012 Eligible - 3

Draft Picks by Country:
Russia – 17
Czech Republic – 12
Slovakia – 11
Sweden – 6
Germany – 5
Switzerland – 5
Finland, Latvia – 3
Belarus, Denmark – 2
Austria, England, Hungary, Norway, Slovenia - 1
My end-of-season rankings for the 2011 CHL Import Draft will be posted soon, but for now I wanted to point out some things I found interesting from looking at this information.
  • Overall, players are drafted relatively consistently compared to a team's typical roster distribution between goalies, defencemen and forwards.
  • Players tend to be drafted before their draft year, which makes sense since a lot of European NHL-drafted players are likely amongst their home club's top assets.
  • Past transfer woes made me believe that fewer Russians would have been selected, but the supply of talented Russian players available gave the CHL teams plenty of options to go after (Nail Yakupov, Alexander Khokhlachev, Vladimir Namestnikov, Maxim Kitsyn, Igor Bobkov).
  • Do I think 2011 will see the same number of players taken? No. I see 2010's numbers being more of an anomaly than a trend in that regard.
  • Teams seem to have a solid relationship in selecting Czech and Slovakian players. This trend has really sparked in recent years as the development systems in these countries don't have nearly the amount of resources at their disposal as the CHL does. Add in players' hopes and dreams of becoming NHL players and you have a win-win situation.
  • While many of their players have the same hopes and dreams, very few Swedes and Finns seem to be selected in the CHL Import Draft. From a CHL GM's perspective this really makes sense, as, again, many players are reluctant to come overseas to play because of opportunities provided from within their team's development system.
  • Based on the stellar play of Nino Niederreiter, more Swiss players were taken in the 2010 draft than normal. That said, thanks to even more stellar play from the Swiss 2010 draftees (namely Sven Bartschi and Lino Martschini), I would expect the number of Swiss players to near the top of the list this year.
  • Based on the number of players with promising talent back home and the solid play of its 2010 Import Draft Selections (such as Mirko Hoefflin and Marcel Noebels), I think Germany is another country that will see an increase in selections in 2011.
  • Teams are taking more chances on players from non-traditional hockey markets. I'm surprised that, in 2010, there was as many Latvia players selected in the draft as their were Finnish players. Seeing a couple of Belarusian and Danish players selected wasn't very surprising, but I love the fact that Austria, Norway and Slovenia each had a player picked.
  • What really caught my eye were the players selected from Hungary and England, both of which I believe were the first players from their respective countries to be selected in a CHL Import Draft.


  1. Do you have a decent list for the upcoming draft? I'm trying to find a decent list of prospects who are interested in coming over...

  2. After the Memorial Cup I'm going to posting a Top X list (haven't figured out how many, but it's looking like 20-30).

    That said, the list wouldn't be of players "interested" - rather, a list of the best players with an added angle of their current career trajectory. For example, Swedes which seem to be on the clear-cut path to Elitserien would have their ranking hampered simply because their chances of coming over would be decreased.