Ice eyeing up European talent for import draft

Kootenay general manager Jeff Chynoweth looking to pick up a forward and defenceman in CHL Import Draft.

The Kootenay Ice will be participating in the CHL Import Draft for a second straight year when the general managers from across the three major-junior leagues make their selections on Wednesday.

Holding the 25th and 85th overall picks, Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth wants to shore up the depth chart by targeting a forward and a defenceman.

With an abundance of centremen on the roster already, Chynoweth hopes to fill a gap up front on the wing, as well as along the blue line—both of which have open spots due to the graduation of overagers in Brock Montgomery and Joey Leach.

“I think we’re a little weak on the back end, with what we graduated last year and the expected retirement of Tanner Muth,” said Chynoweth. “Obviously, that’s our pressing need, is to fill a position on the back end.

“And if we can get a winger on the left side, that’s something we’d like to add as well. That’s our wish list, whether that comes to fruition or not, time will tell tomorrow.”

Kootenay brought Jakub Prochazka and Petr Vesely into the fold at the import draft last year, however, Vesely didn’t make the cut, while Prochazka hovered between the third and fourth line on the wing.

In 56 games with the Ice, Prochazka had three goals and 10 points with 12 penalty minutes.

The defensive corps needs attention with the departure of Leach and Muth, who likely won’t return for his final year of WHL eligibility due to his concussion history.

That leaves Tanner Faith, Matt Thomas, Jagger Dirk, Landon Peel and Clint Filbrandt, who was acquired earlier in the off-season in a trade with the Tri-City Americans, as the remaining rearguards for the team.

Up front, the Ice have lost Montgomery, who played on the wing, and will be looking to address that need through the draft and moving into training camp at the end of August.

Due to new rules, clubs are barred from trading up or down in the draft, and the CHL has levied a ban on bringing in European goaltenders after this year.