The Kootenay Ice announced the release of import forward Alexander Chirva Monday afternoon.
The Ice selected the 18-year-old native of Moscow with the 33rd pick in the first round of the 2014 CHL Import Draft. Chirva recorded one goal and was a minus-four rating in three games with the Ice this season. The 6-foot-1, 181-pound pivot was embarking on his second WHL season after spending the 2013-14 campaign with the Moose Jaw Warriors where he posted two goals and six points in 58 games.
“First of all, we expected more [of Chirva],” said Kootenay Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth Monday afternoon. “Secondly, with some of our younger players, they might be behind him at this point but by Christmas time they would be ahead of him and he’s taking ice time away from some of those younger players.”
The release opens up a spot for an import player, with Russian defenceman Rinat Valiev the only import currently on the roster. Apart from having one available import opening, the Ice also still have an slot for an overage player, with forwards Levi Cable and Austin Vetterl the only 20-year-olds with the team.
“We’re just going to play it out both with the remaining 20-year-old spot and the import spot,” Chynoweth added. “We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks. As teams start to play more games and their numbers get set there’s going to be more players available. Whether they’re 20-year-olds or import players, there’s going to be some options to look at.”
The Ice retain the major junior rights to 20-year-old import LW Tim Bozon, who was in training camp with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens before being assigned to the Habs AHL affiliate in Hamilton Sunday afternoon.
Bozon put up 33 goals and 69 points during the 2013-14 WHL season, including 30 goals and 62 points for the Ice after being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers in a blockbuster deal Oct. 22, 2013.
Additionally, they also retain the rights to 20-year-old goaltender Mackenzie Skapski. The 6-foot-3 puck-stopper was assigned to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack from New York Rangers training camp Sept. 24.
“[Bozon and Skapski] are going to get every opportunity to play at the pro level,” Chynoweth said. “Should the Montreal Canadiens or the New York Rangers decide that this would be an option, they would make that decision. From our end, we’re not counting on either one of those players being back.”
The release of Chirva follows quickly on the heels of the re-assignment of forward Shane Allan and defenceman Mark O’Shaughnessy, which was announced Sunday afternoon. The team assigned Allan to the Calgary Royals of the Alberta Midget Hockey League while O’Shaughnessy was sent to the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL.
The moves bring the Ice roster to 23, including two goaltenders, eight defencemen and 13 forwards.
“It’s September, you’re still trying to put the pieces to the puzzle together,” Chynoweth added. “You want to be moving forward in the right direction at the right time of the year. We’re happy with where we’re at. We’ve got some good young players, we’ve got some veterans that have been here. Now that we know these are the 23 players here, we can start focusing on the little things that will get us playing a lot better than we have of late.”
The Ice open the home portion of their 2014-15 WHL regular season Friday night when they welcome the Spokane Chiefs (2-0-0-0) to Western Financial Place.