The Vancouver Giants kicked off the annual CHL import draft, or whatever you want to call it, by selecting highly touted Russian defenceman Dmitry Osipov.
Despite being the No. 1 pick of the 2013 KHL junior draft, it seems the 6-foot-1, 179-pound Osipov will join the Giants. Osipov’s agent, Ritch Winter, told Vancouver Province columnist Steve Ewen, “He’s coming (to Vancouver). He could have made a lot of money in the KHL. Tells you all you need to know."
Osipov, 17, along with top bantam pick Tyler Benson, should make a strong case for the Giants to win the bid to host the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup. In addition, Vancouver holds two first-round picks, their own and the Saskatoon Blades, in the 2014 bantam draft; the draft picks give GM Scott Bonner a lot of trade options to bolster his club.
Past the top pick, here’s a mix of news, notes and nuggets:
- In the last year with the option to draft import goalies, no one from the WHL took advantage of the opportunity. So if there really is a Canadian puck-stopper talent crisis, why didn’t anyone scramble to snag a European netminder when the CHL yelled last call?
- The Portland Winterhawks picked the only NHL draft pick, Vancouver Canucks’ 145th
pick Anton Cederholm, out of the 22 Dub teams. Cederholm, who is an 18-year-old Swedish defenceman, spent last season in the SuperElit with Rogle 20. It seems the Winterhawks’ plan is to roll Cederholm and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand as their imports next year, making Russian defenceman Kirill Vorobev, who suited up for 53 games last year, no longer in their plans.
- The Prince George Cougars looked to Slovakia, selecting forward David Soltes with the fourth pick and 6-foot-6 defenceman Martin Bobos 64th overall. Prince George only had one import, blueliner Rinalds Rosinskis, last year after Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender prospect Joonas Korpisalo decided to stick in Finland rather than joining the Cougars.
- The Seattle Thunderbirds chose to pass on the 13th overall pick in the draft. They did so because they expect Russian winger Alexander Delnov, who scored 20 goals and 49 points last year, and Latvian winger Robert Lipsbergs, who scored 30 goals and 58 points last year, to return for their 19-year-old seasons.
- The Saskatoon Blades added 6-foot-3 defenceman David Nemecek, who played for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting last year, and 6-foot winger Nikita Sherbak. Both players will receive ample opportunity to succeed in Saskatoon’s Memorial Cup hangover season. The Bridge City Boys are expected to have four new faces on the back end and six up front. They also made a pair of deals to work out their overage surplus. They traded Shane McColgan to the Portland Winterhawks for some late-round draft picks and hometown boy Matthew Pufahl to the Everett Silvertips for Ayrton Nikkel. With Dallas Stars prospect Matej Stransky and Buffalo Sabres goaltender prospect Andrey Makarov not likely to return next year, it seems Saskatoon’s overagers are narrowed down to three of defenceman Graeme Craig and wingers Nathan Burns, Colin Valcourt, and Erik Benoit.
- Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller’s younger brother, Mads Eller, was picked 57th overall by the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 6-foot, 187-pound winger scored four goals and eight points in 10 U18 games for Denmark last year. He is expected to replace the import opening left by Edmonton Oilers prospect Martin Gernat, who is poised to move on to the pros.
- The Moose Jaw Warriors looked to Russia to fill their import openings, selecting defenceman Alexey Sleptsov 16th overall and winger Alexander Chirva 79th overall.
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen