Czech winger refuses to report to major junior Islanders

Jason Malloy
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Vaclav Karabacek was not going to report to the Charlottetown Islanders, general manager Grant Sonier told The Guardian.

The Islanders had a deal with the Gatineau Olympiques to send a 2015 first-round pick back to Gatineau in exchange for the Czech winger. The pick was acquired in the deadline deal for Alexis Pépin.

“We were excited about getting Vaclav Karabacek,” Sonier told The Guardian, but “I received some information that would suggest strongly that he would not report.”

Karabacek, 18, had 21 goals and 26 assists in 65 games this season in Gatineau.

Other problems with the deal started to arise a few months ago.

The Canadian Hockey League has a new rule banning import players from being traded until a year after they were drafted. It would limit Gatineau from selecting two players in this year’s import draft in July.

It became a complicated situation for both teams and the league.

The teams reached a deal to settle the issue on Thursday and it was announced on Friday. The Islanders retain the 2015 pick and Scales, while Pépin stays with the Olympiques. The teams are flipping first-round picks, resulting in the Islanders moving from 12 to seven overall in today’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft in Sherbrooke, Que.

“We’re happy with the final transaction to make this difficult situation go away,” Sonier said. “This would not have happened without the co-operation of Gatineau, the league and the help of Geoff Boyle, our governor.”

Based on previous drafts, Sonier said, moving up from 12 to seven would cost the first-round pick and another piece.

Sonier said not having Karabacek impacts today’s draft, but “We’re still going to stick to our principle of best player available. We have needs in all areas.”

The Islanders have four picks in the first three rounds amongst its cache of selections.

If the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement and a mediator had to settle the impasse, it may have sidelined the Islanders’ plans for today’s draft and possibly this year’s import draft. The Islanders have two picks, 11th and 71st overall, in the July 2 CHL import draft.

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

Geographic location: Gatineau, Scales, Sherbrooke, Que

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