Hockey Islanders set to go shopping for Europeans

Charles Reid
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Charlottetown team gets two picks at CHL draft, plans to keep Beran

The Charlottetown Islanders will be doing a little overseas shopping today at the Canadian Hockey League import draft.

It will be a simple wish list for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League club when it selects its two players. First, a defenceman with the 33rd pick in the first round to replace Tomas Pavelka, who signed a pro contract with HC Litvinov in his Czech Republic homeland and won’t return in 2013. And the second is to find a forward with the 96th pick in the second round to eventually replace Matej Beran, who, despite being 20 this year and in his final year of CHL eligibility, is expected to be back.

It’s unusual for a QMJHL club to use one of its three 20-year-old slots on a European player because two roster spots — a Euro and a 20 — are filled by one player. But Islanders general manager Grant Sonier said it’s worth taking a chance on the six-foot-five, 208-pound  forward who has 46 goals and 110 points in 114 games with Charlottetown.

“I don’t see it as risk at all. We know what we’re getting in (Beran),” said Sonier. “He’s a big body who can score and we need his offence when we’re already dealing with the loss of offence (from the graduation) of Josh Currie and Ben Duffy.”

Currie and Duffy finished third and first, respectively, in league scoring last season and combined for 88 goals and 214 points.

Sonier hopes to nab a forward prospect, born in 1996, with the second pick that the Islanders can groom either in Europe or another Canadian team until Beran moves on.

That said, the Islanders, who can carry three Euros for now because of Beran’s status as an overager, must decide on two Euros before the regular season and one will have to go.

The club’s first pick is destined for a defenceman, unless a quality forward comes its way. That idea — taking the best player available — is standard procedure for most teams.

What isn’t standard is  new draft rules state the 60 CHL teams can’t swap Euro picks at the draft.

It means GMs are stuck with the position they traded for before the import draft or were allotted after the playoff season, and that GMs must be patient.

“We would have looked to move up it we could. Now we have to play the wait-and-see game,” said Sonier.

Also, this is the last year CHL teams can draft European goaltenders.

The Vancouver Giants of the WHL have the first overall pick. The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have the first QMJHL pick at third overall.

Organizations: Canadian Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Islanders

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Czech Republic, Europe

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