The CHL held their annual Import Draft today, which isn't of terrible importance to NCAA hockey fans, but as good as you're going to get for news on July 2nd.
And the fireworks started early in this one when Sarnia selected Czech phenom Pavel Zacha, a 6'3" forward expected to be a first round pick in next year's NHL Draft. Immediately after the pick, Zacha's agent, the always out-spoken Allan Walsh took to Twitter:
Sarnia was advised that Pavel Zacha has a professional contract in Czech Republic for 2 more years and has no interest in playing for them.— Allan Walsh (@walsha) July 2, 2014
Sarnia just wasted the #1 overall pick in the CHL Import Draft on a player who's not coming and has a professional contract. #RookieGM— Allan Walsh (@walsha) July 2, 2014
Usually brevity is king on Twitter, but Walsh took the long route with those two tweets when he might as well have just said: 'Pay me'. Walsh likely had a deal worked out with a different, higher-spending club, and was upset to see Sarnia swoop in and take Zacha. Sarnia is going to have to pony up if they want to Zacha come over next year, and clearly they haven't met the buy-in yet.
Other players of interest to be selected in the draft included NTDP '97 forward Dennis Yan, who was selected 8th overall by Shawinigan of the QMJHL. Yan didn't have a fantastic year in Ann Arbor last season, but has the tools to be a dynamic goal-scorer.
Some '97-born USHLers were eligible for the Import Draft for the first time and were picked as well. Chicago Steel forward Artem Artemov was selected 28th overall by Saginaw(OHL). Artemov didn't attend Chicago's tryout camp last month, and it seemed a given he was headed to the CHL as soon as possible. Likewise, Cedar Rapids defenseman Ivan Provorov was selected 30th overall by Brandon(WHL). Provorov, somewhat infamously left the Rough Riders late last season, to play in the World U18 championships with Russia; a decision likely at least in part motivated by the opportunity to showcase himself to prospective CHL teams for the Import Draft.
Boston University commit Maxim Letunov was selected 36th overall by Swift Current(WHL). Letunov is expected to play with Youngstown in the USHL again next year as he adds a little more muscle to his frame. That pick was likely just a stab-in-the-dark by Swift Current on a player that was a second round pick in last week's NHL Draft, and hoping circumstances change somewhere along the way.
Des Moines '97 D Jarkko Parikka was selected 103rd overall by Kingston(OHL). Parikka is a smart, sound defender that had a strong year as a young defender in the USHL, though doesn't quite have the same high-end upside of some of the other picks today.
Finally, Igor Vladykovskii of the Spingfield Jr. Blues in the NAHL was the last player selected, going 115th overall to Erie(OHL). Vladykovskii, who played in the Detroit Honeybaked organization prior to playing in Springfield, is a '95-born forward that is big, though didn't produce much offense in the NAHL last season.
Penn State recruits Denis Smirnov and Nikita Pavlychev, who were both eligible for the CHL for the first time, went unselected, which generally speaks well to their odds of keeping their commitments to Penn State.