Kootenay Ice select defenceman Valtteri Kakkonen at CHL Import Draft

Team makes single pick at annual draft of international prospects, pick up 2000-born Finnish player

The Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft on Thursday morning, with the Kootenay Ice using the 11th overall pick to select Valtteri Kakkonen of Finland.

The 6’0 defenceman spent the 2017-18 season with JYP U20 of Jr. A SM-liiga, with the 2000-born player putting up five goals and seven assists in 47 games. Kakkonen has previously represented Finland at International competitions in 2016-17 at the U17 level and 2015-16 at the U-16 level. He was born in Jyväskylä, Finland.

The Ice elected to use just one of their two available 2018 selections of European talent, with Swiss forward Gilian Kohler (selected 3rd overall in 2017) expected to return to the team next season. While 20-year-old defenceman Martin Bodak is also still with the team, he is still weighing his options to play professionally next year.

“Valtteri is a player who skates well, makes plays and competes hard,” said Ice general manager and president Matt Cockell following the draft. “He adds [a lot] to our blueline and moves the puck up the ice quickly, which is what we want our team to be about. We’re excited for the opportunity to work with him and integrate him into the WHL and the smaller rinks in North America.”

Cockell said that the organization is especially eager for the opportunity to have a player who will available to play the next two season with them and added that while there could still be an opportunity for Bodak to return, they are moving on as if he will be playing professionally elsewhere at this time.

“It is our [job], for all our players, to support them in moving on to [bigger and better things],” Cockell explained. “We are happy to have a player in [Valtteri] who is excited to come over to North America and [we believe] that what Martin did here makes players want to come over and have the success that he did [for themselves].”

According to the GM, the Finnish defenceman is actually quite a similar player to Bodak, who despite being from Slovakia moved from the Finnish league to play in Cranbrook last year. Bodak is currently at the summer development camp of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

The team’s top priority, however, in selecting Kakkonen is that they truly believe that he is excited to play in Cranbrook and will be a great addition on and off the ice, as well as in the community.

“First and foremost, we want to bring in great people to our organization,” Cockell said of Kakkonen’s character. “It’s a two-way street, it has to be a good fit for the player and the team.”

The top player selected in this year’s Import Draft was Slovak forward Maxim Cajkovic of Slovakia by the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. The Edmonton Oil Kings made the WHL’s first pick at second overall by taking left winger Vladimir Alistrov of Belarus. The OHL’s first selection was goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of Finland, taking advantage of the CHL reallowing the selection of goalies for the first time since 2013.

Just Posted

Feds announce battery technology challenge at energy conference

Provincial and territorial energy and mines ministers talk policy, challenges at annual meeting

Kimberley Dynamiters schedule set for next season

The 2019/20 hockey season for the Dynamiters will start with a four-game homestand

CBT heritage funding comes in for three local projects

The Columbia Basin Trust has announced 2.8 million that will be used… Continue reading

Emergency repairs required for spray irrigation effluent pipeline: City

The city reports that emergency repairs were necessary after a break in… Continue reading

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Thunderstorms forecast across B.C.

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for B.C.’s central Interior

Most Read