CHL’s decision to ban import goalies from the league has caused quite a bit of turmoil overseas. While some Russian pundits believe Russian junior players would be better off developing in their homeland, one of the top hockey agents in the country, Alexei Dementiev, thinks otherwise.
Dementiev made a name for himself in the past couple of years, stepping down from his duties as one of the Nashville Predators scouts to become a hockey agent. His client list include among many others Blues’ forward Vladimir Tarasenko, Habs’ prospect Alex Avtsin, Red Wings’ prospect Alexei Marchenko. He is also the agent for CHL alumni Alex Khokhlachev and Andrei Pedan.
“The decision is very logical,” told Dementiev in his interview with Maria Rogovskaya of Championat.com. “At the NHL Entry draft I spoke to many junior league executives and it looks like the CHL is going to close its doors for all import players. Goalies are just the first in line. Canadians realized that they don’t have strong goalies not on a junior level but also on a national level.”
“Just look at the facts. A Russian goalie wins the Vezina Trophy while other nominees were also European. Same goes for skaters. (Canada’s world junior team) recruits players from the CHL but it was Team USA who clinched the gold in Ufa this year. And most of these Americans play not in the USHL but CHL.”
In the past five years four Russian goalies made their way to CHL – Igor Bobkov (London Knights and Kingston Frontenacs), Ramis Sadikov (Erie Otters), Nikita Serebryakov (Saginaw Spirit) and Andrei Makarov (Lewiston Maineacs and Saskatoon Blades). This summer 22 Russian players were selected at the CHL Import draft, setting a new record.
Dementiev believes the goalie ban was installed mainly to improve Team Canada’s results at the world juniors.
“When an import player gets ice time, it hurts Team Canada. They started cutting it down with the goalies. I thinks, skaters are going to be next,” said Dementiev.
How exactly is it going to hurt Team Russia, though?
“This ban will hurt Team Russia instantly,” believes Dementiev. “Say what you want about junior players leaving for CHL and never making it to the NHL, but because of the quantity of players leaving in the end we still get the players we need. We must change around our development program and change our demands for players who want to make it to Team Russia. There’s a lot of work to be done and there’s very little time to do it. We have act before things will happen, not after they already have. If we do that, we’re going to be better prepared for all international events, including the Olympics.”