The Kootenay ICE made quit a stir at the 2010 CHL Import Draft by not selecting a player and traded their 1st pick for a 6th round Bantam pick.
ICE GM Jeff Chynoweth had been debating this decision for a few months and decided that unless you are gauranteed a top 6 forward or top 4 defenseman then does it really help your organization.
I have been formulating thoughts on the Import Draft for a few years and wonder how it can be made better for the CHL and all it's teams.
Keep in mind I am not an ICE apologist nor am I looking to be overly critical of the team or league.
- The ICE have 19 players who are eligible to return to the WHL this season. At most 18 can play for the ICE as that includes 4 over-agers. The ICE should have another good team and an addition of 2 quality Imports could make them a contender for a Division title.
- What if they get a 18 or 19-year old forward who plays a 3rd or 4th line role. Is it better to give that ice time to a 16 or 17-year old who can develop into a player who will be a top 6 guy in a few years?
- What if you get a 18 or 19-year defenseman who is 5th or 6th on your depth chart. Is it better to give that ice time to a younger player who can end up being with the team for 3-4 more years?
- Even if the Import players are 3rd line guys, doesn't that make your team stronger for the short term?
- Should teams spend more time scouting Import players at International Tournaments?
- The toughest part of the Draft is finding Imports who are top quality players and will commit to coming to the CHL. This is where it gets tricky.
- So it now becomes a game of who you know as far as NHL GM's and player agents.
- This is where the Oil Kings and Hitmen who are owned by the Oilers and Flames should have a big advantage but have never seemed to exploit it.
- There is a $2000 transfer fee for each player.
- How many CHL teams have ever seen the players in person?
- I think that the Import Draft must change. All players should have to opt-in to the draft. The deadline could be something like June 1st. That would give all teams some time to prepare their rankings.
- Players who haven't declared themselves eligible for the Draft cannot play in the CHL that season.
- Does that penalize teams who do extra work trying to find players or make it a level playing field?
- If a player does not report to the team that selects him, the team gets to make another selection for the list at a later date. For example, if the team finds out a few days after the draft the player will not play for that team, then they have a week to make another selection to fill that position. This should prevent players from asking to go to a specific team or league.
- What if 200 players opt-in to the Import Draft and you have the 50th pick and don't project that player to be top line player, do you still make the selection?
- Should the CHL limit teams to 1 Import per team?
- Should there be no more Import players in the CHL?
- I get the impression fans still love to have the Import players in the league.
- I don't get the impression the ICE want to get rid of the Import Draft. From their point of view it's been a long time since they had a high selection. (The recent highest was 16th overall and they took Tomas Plihal but that was Tri City's pick as part of the compensation for Bob Tory leaving as GM). Always finishing in the top 10 has seen them always selecting 14-22nd in the Bantam Draft and 40-60th in the Import Draft. Do that for a long stretch and you never have the cream of the crop to select from.
- Should the ICE try to trade up to get higher Import picks? That would probably mean sacrificing some Bantam picks. Is that agood idea long term?
- When do you stop thinking long-term and worry about short-term?
- If the ICE are having a strong year do they look at adding an Import or two with trades during the season? They have 2 openings that can be filled at any time.
- Remember Calgary won the WHL Title with one Import player who they aquired in a trade.
- No one has mentioned it yet but didn't Kelowna finish last season with no Import players on their active roster?