Charlottetown GM Grant Sonier gets the big, skilled centres he was looking for on Wednesday
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The Charlottetown Islanders got bigger down the middle Wednesday by landing the two players they wanted through the Canadian Hockey League import draft.
The Islanders selected Czech centre Filip Chlapik with the 11th overall pick and Swedish pivot Filip Rydstrom was the 56th player selected.
Chlapik, 17, is six-foot-one, 183 pounds while Rydstrom, who turns 18 on Aug. 7, is six-foot-three, 210 pounds.
"If you don't have size and skill down the middle, you're going to have a hard time winning at any level," general manager Grant Sonier said. "I think we've addressed some of those issues."
The additions provide the Islanders coaching staff with some options, including moving sophomore Alexandre Goulet to his natural position on the wing.
"We're really happy with (Kameron) Kielly and (first-round pick Mitchell) Balmas down the middle," Sonier said.
Sonier said Chlapik is one of the top 1997-born European hockey players, but he acknowledged there are some logistical issues to be worked out.
"The player wants to come," Sonier said. "We're going to work hard with the agent and the player and the club team to make sure this gets ironed out.
"This player is worth the risk."
Chlapik played at the under-17 and -18 tournaments this past year. He scored 16 goals and had 19 assists for 35 points in 38 games with Sparta's team in the under-20 Czech league.
"This kid has that type of talent that he can play with our top forwards," Sonier said. "This kid is really fit. He's really well put together."
In the minutes leading to the Islanders' selection, Sonier was working the phones setting up Plan Bs in case Chlapik was off the board when their time to pick arrived.
"At the end of the day we got the guy we wanted," he said.
Sonier is going to Toronto today to meet with Rydstrom, who is taking part in a development camp. An Islanders jersey with Rydstrom's name on the back was in Sonier's office when the pick was made.
"He's a big gifted kid that after a record-breaking year last year in Vallentuna, had elite division junior contracts on the table," Sonier said. "The kid made the decision he wanted to come to the CHL."
Rydstorm scored 27 goals with 47 assists and 128 penalty minutes in 24 games with the under-18 team and 15 goals and 24 assists in 24 games in the under-20 league.
Sonier said the Islanders' corps of NHL draft-eligible players like Daniel Sprong, Kielly, David Henley and Luc Duschenes helps to attract players to Charlottetown.