WINDSOR, Ont. — Looking to restock the cupboard with young talent, the Windsor Spitfires would normally embrace the CHL's Import Draft June 29.
However, this year the challenge isn't just finding a European prospect that'll report, it's finding the space to put him on the roster.
With forward Tom Kuhnhackl taking one import spot, Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel has to decide if the draft is worth making a trade involving German goalie Philipp Grubauer in the next couple of weeks to free up another spot.
To participate in the Import Draft, the Spits can only have one European on the roster.
"If something makes sense before the draft, I'll do it," said Rychel of trading the Memorial Cup-winning goalie.
"I want to be fair to the kids. We have the luxury of four goalies and something has to give. Everyone knows one guy (U.S. world junior goalie Jack Campbell) is going to get the bulk of the work."
While Rychel is checking out the market for Grubauer, it's no guarantee he'll make a trade this month.
Rychel wants to get at least up into the 20s to pick and the other end of this complicated equation is the Spitfires will have to find out who might actually come over from Europe.
The Spitfires have the 56th pick in the Import Draft.
"I'm going to see what's out there," Rychel said. "A lot of teams have goalies out there.
"If I don't think we can work something out I'm happy with, then we might just pass on our pick in the draft."
Rychel said the summertime is a traditionally a hard time to make trades.
"No one has lost a game and everyone is tied for first place," Rychel said. "Everyone likes their players at this time of the year."
Rychel said the decision to trade Grubauer is one that won't be made until between the June 25-26 NHL draft in Los Angeles and the Import Draft.
"We're (Bob Boughner) going out to celebrate with our five guys who are going to get drafted and to see our NHL friends," said Rychel, who has heard the depth is decent in this year's Import Draft.
"Quite frankly, that's where the work really goes on for this draft, talking to the scouts that see these kids in Europe and their agents. The deal for Kuhnhackl started with a conversation in the hallway with his agent Rollie Thompson at the NHL draft.
"It's a challenge this draft with a lot of gray areas."
However, since purchasing the Spitfires four years ago, few teams have had more success with their CHL Import Draft selections.
During that time, Rychel has selected Marek Biro, Michal Jordan, Andrei Loktionov, Richard Panik and Kuhnhackl.
All those players have eventually come and all before Kuhnhackl have played a key role in the Spits' success or been traded to acquire vital pieces for the puzzle.
"The Import Draft has been a huge in our success with Loktionov being the best example of that," Rychel said.
Should Rychel decide to move Grubauer and participate in the draft, he said he's likely to go for someone that can give the Spitfires multiple years of service.
"With us not getting the Memorial Cup, now I'm looking at 93-born forward or defenceman who could help us for two or three years," Rychel said.
"I'm not sure about the position because we're losing a lot of forwards, but we could also lose three veteran defenceman. I'd probably take the best player available."
No matter what he does this month, Rychel said dealing with the glut of goalies is his most important task this summer.
Ideally, he'd like to have the situation dealt with before training camp.
"There's no hurry, but I don't want a logjam in goal in camp," Rychel said. "I'll talk to a few teams.
"If we can collect some assets from this great."
© Copyright (c) The Windsor Star
- Warren Rychel
- Windsor Spitfires