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London Knights trade increases import-draft intrigue

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Swedish goalie Oscar Dansk has indicated interest in the CHL (Derek Leung, Getty Images)

The Peterborough Petes trading away a top-10 pick in the Canadian Hockey League import draft to the London Knights is the umpteenth reminder it's often a draft in name only. It does, if you don't mind the rather glib interpretation, heep the hot stove league warm heading into summer.

The Knights' move up to the No. 9 slot for the June 27 proceedings immediately sparked speculation they might be in on Europe's top-ranked goaltending prospect, Oscar Dansk, who said at the NHL combine he was interested in playing major junior. With the trade, the Knight leapfrogged the rival Windsor Spitfires, who hold the No. 15 slot. That does not mean the Knights are necessarily on the inside track or that they will even select any goalie, but people are going to wonder, especially since it's expected OHL player-of-the-year Michael Houser is done with junior hockey. Suffice to say, there's a guessing game over which team will set off bad Dansk Dansk Revolution puns on draft day.

From Ryan Pyette:

It appears more likely every day Houser will be picked by an NHL team next weekend, though he's said he won't attend his hometown draft. But even if the 19-year-old from Wexford, Pa., is passed over a third straight year, there's some NHL interest from in signing him as a free agent.

If he lands in the pros, the Knights need a starting goalie.

The ninth-overall import pick could fetch one of the top two or three best NHL-eligible European puckstoppers, a group that includes Russian Andrei Vasilevski, Swede Oscar Dansk or Finland's Joonas Korpisalo.

Or what's to say Dale Hunter won't use his influence in the Washington Capitals organization to coax one of their young guns to play? "Everyone's going to be working their connections, especially when we're at the NHL draft," he said. (London Free Press)

Even though London was relatively young for a MasterCard Memorial Cup finalist, they will still have spots to fill in all three position groups. The most obvious hole is the one left by shutdown defenceman Jarred Tinordi graduating to the Montreal Canadiens organization.

The rejuvenated Kingston Frontenacs pick No. 6 and are also considering looking for a new starting goaltender. Kingston typically hasn't gone whole-hog on bringing in a marquee player from overseas like the Knights, Spitfires or Kitchener Rangers have in recent years.

The Petes' decision to cash in their pick for three OHL priority selection draft choices, including a 2013 second-rounder, shows how the whole process is a stacked deck for smaller-market franchises. There's so much behind-the-scenes negotiating with agents, not to mention the work of securing a player's release. At least Peterborough GM Dave Reid added some assets, although it is a very zero-sum game.

From Mike Davies:

Reid said it's difficult to sign top-end Europeans many of whom are offered pro contracts in their home countries. Reid pointed to the sixth and seventh picks in last year's import draft not showing up to their teams. He said it's a gamble.

"In Europe they're offering contracts to guys at 16 or 17 to tie them up," Reid said. "That's what all the teams are up against. I've never had one player or one agent say my guy doesn't want to come to Peterborough, it's more a case of they're not sure they want to come to North America."

Reid said he can't offer those players money, he can only offer them the opportunity of playing in a league more suited to developing an NHL style of player.

"We weren't comfortable we could get a top tier player," Reid said. "We felt it was more important to recoup some of our draft picks which we can use later on whether it be for trade or draft." (Peterborough Examiner)

As an aside, the jockeying to get into position to possibly draft Dansk or Joonas Korpisalo really who is behind this argument about removing foreign goalies from the CHL. Based on this, it doesn't seem to be coming from the bottom-line minded CHL teams. Their actions suggest they want to win and believe the best goalie should play, regardless of his passport.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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