Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Studley's 2011 CHL Import Draft Rankings

As much as I love to see CHL teams grab various talent from across the globe, the CHL Import Draft is, for lack of a better term, a complete crapshoot. With so many players invested in their current system and with certain players only willing to play for certain teams, it's ultimately an agent's pipe-dream.

All criticism aside, here are my rankings - most likely completely wrong, in terms of actual draft order - for the 2011 CHL Import Draft.

1. Mikhail Grigorenko (F, CSKA Moscow - RUS-MHL)
I doubt he will be the top pick simply due to potential contract issues with his KHL club but, as a '93-born, Grigorenko has the skills to put him at the top of the import draft class while potentially being able to provide his club with three years of service.

2. Nikita Kucherov (F, CSKA Moscow - RUS-MHL)
Grigorenko's linemate at this year's U18 tournament, Kucherov is in the exact same boat as Grigorenko when it comes to both skills and contractual issue complexity. It would be cool to see London team up with Tampa Bay in settling any dispute and then use the #1 pick on Kucherov in hopes of him meshing with Vladislav Namestnikov. Don't count on it though!

3. Olli Maatta (D, JYP - FIN-U20)
Already listed at 6'1" and 183 lbs., Maatta split the '10-'11 season between the Finland's second men's league and Jr; however, Olli's international play this season was what really impressed me.

In December, I was shocked when Maatta made Finland's U20 team for the World Junior Championship. Olli didn't log much ice time but simply making the team as a 16 year old was enough to catch my eye. Cue the U18 tournament where Maatta also represented Finland where he was the team's defencemen scoring leader.

4. Sondre Olden (F, MODO - SWE-U20)
The '10-'11 season was a bit of a bust for Olden: although he had a decent season for MODO's U20 team and was given a shot to play with their Elitserien team for a few games, Olden's numbers - at any level he played at this year - didn't live up to my expectations as a NHL-drafted prospect. Sondre was solid for Norway at the World Junior Championships but none of that translated to the scoresheet, which would have went a long way for the struggling squad.

That said, Olden is still a very solid prospect and, with the all-round interest in him making the move to North America, he should be a high pick to a team looking to go for a championship run this year.

5. Jani Hakanpää (D, Blues - FIN-U20)
Hakanpaa had a very good year playing for Blues in the Finnish Jr. A league, leading his team in defencemen scoring with 23 points in 36 games; however, he didn't get the chance to represent Finland internationally this year and didn't really see much of a promotional opportunity throughout the season. I think the move to a WHL team would be great for Hakanpaa, and he's definitely worth the selection.

6. Marko Dano (F, Dukla Trencin - SVK-U20)
In a year with a lot of '94-born imports looking like they'll be developed in their native programs, Dano could be the wildcard to shake things up for his age. A late '94-born, meaning he's not NHL draft-eligible until the 2013 draft, Dano absolutely destroyed the Slovakian U20 league this season with 40 points in 27 games as a 15/16 year old. His performance impressed enough to earn a multi-game promotion to the Slovakian Extraliga.

Look for a rebuilding team to spot Dano early and snag him.

7. Steffen Søberg (G, Manglerud - NORWAY)
Soberg has presented nothing but surprises this season: after taking over as starter for Manglerud in Norway's men's league, Soberg took over as Norway's starting goalie in this year's WJC tournament. Soberg took the momentum from his success at this level and turned it into a stellar showing at the U18 tournament, finishing second in tournament save percentage with .931 in 6 games.

Soberg is definitely a project pick but with at least two seasons to play for his CHL club, he's definitely worth the risk.

8. Martin Gernat (D, Kosice - SVK-U20)
Edmonton has already had some major success in bringing a huge Slovakian defenceman over to the CHL and, while his upside may not be as high as Martin Marincin's, Gernat is certainly one to consider at the Import Draft. The 6'5" blueliner has major upside as a defensive defenceman but has some offense to go with it, as can be seen with his 18 points in 28 games in Slovakia's U20 league.

9. Tomas Hertl (F, Slavia Praha - CZE-U20)
Hertl is a forward with great size (6'3", 187 lbs.) at such a young age (a late '93 birthdate). After starting the season with Slavia Praha's U18 team, Hertl was quickly promoted to the U20 league where he registered 41 points in 33 games - and he even earned a debut showing at the Extraliga level.

CHL teams love players of Hertl's ilk, so don't be surprised to see him taken earlier than one may originally think.

10. Arturs Kuzmenkovs (F, Metalurgs Liepaja-2 - LATVIA)
While he didn't do so in leaps and bounds, Kuzmenkovs improved upon his numbers from last year playing in Latvia's men's league while also representing his country at the Div-1 U18 tournament.

To me, picking Kuzmenkovs is all about taking a chance at developing his massive upside: he has the size and the offensive potential to be a top prospect coming out of the CHL.

11. Gregory Hoffman (F, Ambrì-Piotta - SUI-NLA)
12. Emil Lundberg (F, Södertälje - SWE-U20)
13. Maxim Shalunov (F, Chelyabinsk - RUS-MHL)
14. Daniel Pribyl (F, Sparta Praha - CZE-U20)
15. Sami Salminen (F, HIFK - FIN-U20)
16. Domminic Lammer (F, Kloten - SUI-U20)
17. Nathan Walker (F, Vitkovice - CZE-U20)
18. Mikko Tauriainen (F, Kärpät - FIN-U18)
19. Thomas Spelling (F, Herning - DENMARK)
20. Tomas Nosek (F, Pardubice - CZE-U20)
21. Adam Rehak (F, Vitkovice - CZE-U20)
22. Yaroslav Kosov (F, Magnitogorsk - RUS-MHL)
23. Emil Molin (F, Brynäs - SWE-U18)
24. Lars Volden (G, Blues - FIN-U20)
25. Nolan Diem (F, Lausanne - SUI-U20)
26. Antonin Routa (F, Lukko - FIN-U20)
27. Jiri Puhony (F, Pardubice - CZE-U20)
28. David Elsner (F, Landshut - GER-2)
29. Corey Mapes (D, Heilbronner - GER-2)
30. Otto Paajanen (F, HPK - FIN-U20)

1 comment:

  1. What did u think of the import picks made by the Western Hockey league teams? Which players do u think will be snipers in the WHL? Thanks