With the 2020 CHL Import Draft coming up on Tuesday June 30, I thought it would be a good time to review the top prospects for the draft and explain why this draft is extremely difficult for OHL teams to prepare for as they do not have the same exposure to prospects due to the boarder closures and COVID-19 pandemic. For those who are unaware, the CHL Import Draft takes place normally the week after the NHL Entry Draft, however, due to the cancellations and the draft not taking place, the CHL Draft will take place before the future is chosen at the NHL Entry Draft.
OHL teams are permitted to have two imports on the roster for every regular season game. The North Bay Battalion have the CHL’s first selection, so let’s get into the prospects and explain why each would be a good fit for the team I think should draft them.
#1 North Bay Battalion: Brad Lambert
Brad Lambert is the for sure lock at number one overall in this draft, however, he is committed to his hometown team in Finland and OHL teams may be uncertain to take him because he may not come over to North America next season. He is one of the top prospects eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft, currently ranked third overall behind Shane Wright and Matthew Savoie. According to EliteProspects.com and HockeyProspect.com, Lambert would be a great addition to the Battalion and I’m sure general manager Adam Dennis would love to add him to his young core of forwards.
This would be with the likes of Dalyn Wakely, Liam Arnsby, Alex Christopoulos and Brandon Coe leading the troops. The Battalion are certainly a force to be reckoned with in the OHL in the future.
#4 Niagara IceDogs: Aito Iguchi
After trading away Philip Tomasino to the Oshawa Generals in exchange for nine draft picks, the Niagara IceDogs once again get a future star in this Japanese forward. He has has already represented Japan on the world stage and helped them at the D1 World Junior Championship last spring. The only risk of picking this forward is that he reports the USHL where he was drafted, however, I would expect him to choose the OHL because it is the best development league in the world. The IceDogs would also be able to give lots of playing time to this player.
#7 Sarnia Sting: Fabian Lysell
Another OHL team takes a risk here as the Sting select the Swedish left-winger, though I believe the risk will pay off as young players in Sweden do like to come over to North America. The Sting have been getting lots of American prospects recently and this will add to the pool of prospects, getting players outside of Canada. This skilled forward will add to the Sting’s young forward core and help them compete in the Western Conference next year.
#10 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds: Ludwig Persson
John Dean, the Soo Greyhounds head coach, proves to like Swedish forwards. The Greyhounds continue with this trend and select this forward in Ludwig Persson. They are taking a risk as he is committed to Frölunda for next season, but I believe he will report to the Greyhounds and become a great asset for the OHL hockey club.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “where is the goalie?” because the Greyhounds lost Nick Malik to HC Ocelari Trinec and he returned to the Czech Republic. I believe the Greyhounds coaching staff believes in Ethan Taylor and he will be the team’s starter.
#13 Kingston Frontenacs: Patrik Sokoli
In this year’s CHL Import Draft, the Kingston Frontenacs take another Slovakian in Patrik Sokoli. Sokoli was a member of Slovakia’s team orange who competes almost yearly as one team throughout the whole year. This is an advantage for Slovakian players who attend the World Junior Championship as they are already gelled as a team and as a result, know how to work as one unit. Kingston saw the success of Martin Chromiak last year, so they do not hesitate to take a Slovakian forward.
Stay tuned for OHL coverage this upcoming season from me. Also stay tuned for the CHL Import Draft as I will post an article once the draft has concluded.