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Sarnia Sting ripped by Allan Walsh for taking Pavel Zacha No. 1 overall in CHL import draft

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Zacha could be the first top-10 NHL pick from the Czech Republic since 2007 (AP)

With any import draft selection, it is only a good get if the team gets the player to report. Conversely, the intention behind the Canadian Hockey League proscribing teams trading a first-round import selection or trading a player's rights for at least one year are meant to encourage teams to draft based on ability, not signability. (The jury is out on whether it will help or hinder small-market teams.)

The Sarnia Sting, without a doubt, drafted the best player available with the first overall selection on Wednesday by taking 6-foot-2, 200-pound Czech goal scorer Pavel Zacha, who's been touted as his country's best NHL prospect since San Jose Sharks bright young hope Tomas Hertl. Hertl stayed home to develop; by and large, many top Czech top teens of late are doing the same or are looking to other countries in Europe (for instance, Washington Capitals first-round pick Jakub Vrana, who played in Sweden for the past three years). Suffice to say, Zacha's adviser, Allan Walsh, went on the offensive minutes after the Sting's Zacha pick was official.

The hashtag #RookieGM refers to new Sting GM Nick Sinclair. The Memorial Cup-host Quebec Remparts took left wing Vladislav Kamenev with the No. 2 overall pick. Remparts coach-GM Philippe Boucher said he had Zacha as his top-ranked available prospect.

How is that for a plot-thickener?

Sarnia, of course, can point to the fact its recent imports, Nail Yakupov and now Nikolay Goldobin, did go on to become NHL first-round selections after playing two seasons with the Sting. Montreal Canadiens youngster Alex Galchenyuk, a Belarusian-American, also played in Sarnia after coming into the Ontario Hockey League via its priority selection draft.

The Sting's reply:

No doubt some will infer some posturing to Walsh's tweets; there probably is to some extent. At the same time, in April, Zacha expressed a desire to The Hockey News' Ryan Kennedy to continue on Hertl's path of developing at home. The big centre, as Walsh noted, is also under contract.

In the big picture, hockey is probably better off when smaller nations have the resources to keep their players longer. It's a win-win for the game, although that shouldn't dictate where any individual chooses to chase his NHL ambition. The Czechs have also been faring better internationally now that it's retaining its best players. It beat Canada in a shootout during the 2014 world junior round-robin and, with Zacha on board, won a silver medal at the world under-18 championship this spring.

A singular talent should be able to develop in any good environment. Since 2010, the Czech Republic has had a good thing going. Ultimately, though, the recent rule chances were designed to encourage a smaller-market team to take a shot; that's what happened.

Also on the OHL front:

— Boston Bruins first-rounder David Pastrnak went No. 10 overall to the Belleville Bulls, which was where Bruins goalie of the future Malcolm Subban played junior. Pastrnak could potentially join an 18-year-old compatriot, centre David Tomasek, who already has an OHL season under his belt.

Pastrnak, like fellow NHL first-rounder Vrana, opted to leave home and develop in Sweden.

— Tampa Bay Lightning second-rounder Dominik Masin, who's already committed to major junior, went No. 25 overall to the Peterborough Petes. Peterborough, which has its sights on contending in the Eastern Conference, will presumably add Masin to a defence corps that has a legit 2015 NHL draft hopeful in Matt Spencer. It also has to fill in two holes created by overages graduating.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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