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CHL import draft, QMJHL style: Halifax Mooseheads replenish with 2 high picks

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Nikolaj Ehlers was one of Halifax's two high import picks

As the franchise which manoeuvred to acquire the first import selections from two struggling teams, the Halifax Mooseheads are just a wee bit partially responsible for a new Canadian Hockey League rule that prevents trading picks.

In somewhat typical CHL fashion, completed trades were grandfathered in, meaning Memorial Cup-winning Mooseheads GM Cam Russell stayed flush with the Nos. 6 and 12 slots in Wednesday's import draft. With Nathan MacKinnon 99.9 per cent sure to join the Colorado Avalanche to stay and Jonathan Drouin a possibility for the Tampa Bay Lightning's lineup, Halifax had a golden opportunity to restock. Whatever the prognosis might be for Halifax, adding Swiss-based 17-year-old forwards Nikolaj Ehlers and Timo Meier was among the import draft highlights from a QMJHL perspective. Here are few other notable developments on Wednesday.

— Ehlers, a Dane, and Meier, who is two years out from being drafted into the NHL, are being pencilled into Halifax's top-six forward corps.

Ehlers looks pretty smooth, based on one snippet from his play in the Swiss league. Early, early projections see him as a second-rounder in 2014.

No worries about whether Meier will report to Halifax for training camp next month, judging by his Twitter:

(As an aside, training camps open next month. Someone inject hockey with a dose of sanity and make time for an off-season.)

— You might remember Moncton Wildcats pick Vladimir Tkachev from such goals as this one he scored in the Canada-Russia challenge last August in Halifax.

Selecting Tkachev gives the Wildcats a complement to 18-year-old Ivan Barbashev, who came over last season and is highly touted for the draft. (There's another one of those next June? It never ends.)

— Toronto Maple Leafs fifth-rounder Fabrice Herzog will be placed with the Quebec Remparts for his 19-year-old season. Herzog — he's already been dubbed 'Duke' by Pension Plan Puppets — skated in the top-flight Swiss league among NHLers past and present last season and apparently did not look out of place. His coach with EV Zug was former Leaf Doug Shedden. Herzog will need time to adapt, but could give the Remparts another hard-driving north-and-south forward to complement Tampa Bay Lightning high second-rounder Adam Erne.

Thanks to a bad rule, the Remparts are allowed to have three imports on the roster while only dressing two for a game. They would seem unlikely to see 19-year-old Buffalo Sabres hopeful Mikhail Grigorenko at any time before late October.

Juraj Siska, the Saint John Sea Dogs' No. 9 overall choice from HC Vitra, is an intriguing selection for reasons beyond the fact "Saint John" and "Slovakia" instantly summon nice memories of Detroit Red Wings prospect Tomas Jurco. Siska, a 6-2 forward who plays a "power game," is also recovering from a scary spinal cord injury that kept him out of the world U18 championship. But Siska played some games for Slovakia's HC Orange under-20 team as a 15-year-old, so that tells you about his potential. Siska's recovery will keep him out of the early part of the regular season.

— Centre Georges-Vézina just became a scouting destination. Russian defenceman Nikita Lyamkin, who was a tournament all-star during the world under-17 challenge last winter in Quebec, was snapped up by the Chicoutimi Saguenéens and will report.

— The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles presumably had a collective rueful grin on Sunday when TSN analyst Craig Button said "they couldn't beat a midget team" last season. By no means was it uncalled for, since the Eagles finished dead last and a goodly chunk of the lineup was still young enough for minor hockey. Cape Breton looked to Russia, 17-year-old forwards Maxim Lazarev and Evgeny Svechnikov. Svechnikov also has a late birthday.

— Seventeen-year-old Czech forward Vaclav Kabaracek is lined up with the Gatineau Olympiques. Kabaracek shares an agent with Los Angeles Kings-drafted wing Tomas Hyka, who was a standout with the 'Piques for the past two seasons.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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