We all know how important the CHL Import Draft is for Major Junior hockey, it’s a massive difference maker.
In many cases Euros can put teams over the top when it comes to claiming junior hockey supremacy.
When it comes to the QMJHL’s Maritimes Division, today’s Import Draft will be very intriguing given the trio vying for the President Cup.
The Saint John Sea Dogs, Charlottetown Islanders and the Acadia-Bathurst Titan all have championship aspirations.
Obviously, the Titan have their to Euro’s locked in Jan Bednar and defender Harijs Brants. Brants wasn’t able to report due to COVID, but one might speculate his return. Perhaps that ship as sailed, but the Titan could definitely use his expertise on the backend. The Titan have a bounty of left shot defenders, but Brants has the ability to play both sides. If Brants chooses to stay in Europe and play professionally this season, look for the Titan brain trust to make a splash and try to land another impact scoring forward or try to land the aforementioned coveted right shot transitional D-man.
When it comes to the Port City and the Sea Dogs, who knows what direction they will chose to take. The organizations track record landing key impact Euro’s hasn’t been the greatest for awhile. Trevor Georgie has acquired the last few through trades, but did select Fyodor Svechkov and Jan Hampl in last seasons import draft. It remains to be seen what he might have up his sleeve today, but there’s no question the Dogs need more grit and character up front and could also use a left shot shut down defender as well. Obviously, those two aspects aren’t your prototypical targets when looking for Euro’s.
Georgie was quoted last year saying, “Jan is in a different situation than Fyodor, Jan is committed to coming to the Sea Dogs next season.”
As we all know a lot can happen in the hockey world in a calendar year.
Anthony Stella and Georgie might once again look within the league to acquire an impactful Euro, if things don’t work out with selections from 2020. Several sources reported around Draft time that the Dogs were also shopping another veteran forward. One could speculate that any deal could involve Euro coming back the other way. This is it for the Sea Dogs, this is what they have been building towards for the last few seasons. Their core group have been through a lot, adding the right pieces right now could be the difference between Championship glory and utter disappointment.
As far as the Islanders, well it all starts between the pipes. Obviously, Jacob Goobie is ready, it’s his net to lose and he will be more than prepared for the work load, but when it comes to that position you can never have enough depth and solid Plan B. Look for the Islanders to address their depth with the addition of a Euro netminder today.
Jim Hulton and his staff are counting on Czech forward Jakub Brabenec to be a difference maker for the organization this season. The highly skilled forward will slot in on the teams Top 6 and provide another sniping presence.
The Halifax Mooseheads will have a very quiet day today. They are set and committed to Senna Peeters and Attilio Biasca. Peeters might have pro offers, but that hasn’t been reported so look for the solid two-way forward to return to the Moosehead lineup. Biasca will come into his own this season and will play a more significant role with the team after only playing 19 games with the Herd a season ago.
The Cape Breton Eagles have an opportunity to add two big pieces for their future, but they have skilled two-way forward Ivan Ivan and Russian forward Mikhail Nizovkin still in the mix. It’s going to be very interesting to see what direction the Eagles will take today. They are building towards something very special in Cape Breton, the moves or lack there of today will play a massive role in their club in the years to come.
Ritchie Thibeau and his new right hand man Rick Melanson need to score big for the Moncton Wildcats today. The Cats need a bonafide scoring presence and they will no doubt be targeting that in this season’s import draft. The Cats landed Maxim Barbashev last season which was definitely a feel good story given the Barbashev connection to the city and history of the franchise, but this kid can flat out play. It’s going to be interesting to see how he responds and adjusts to the absence of Jacob Hudson. Hudson played a critical role on that line and was the engine that got Barbs going night in night out. The Cats will look to dress at least three of their first few draft selections this season so that potentially rules out the team landing a left shot defender to that mix. Nevertheless, you never know what Thibeau and Melanson have up their sleeve. Thibeau and his staff have done a solid job building a very good core for years to come in the Hub City.
The 2021 CHL Import Draft is shaping up to be as intriguing as ever. This years addition will no doubt impact the Maritimes Division like no other. Sit back and enjoy the ride, the Maritimes will no doubt be the epicentre of championship aspirations and dreams as we get set for another season of QMJHL hockey.