Grant Sonier knows the players he wants in today’s Canadian Hockey League import draft.
Now it’s a waiting game to see whom the teams ahead of the Charlottetown Islanders select. The Islanders hold the 11th and 71st selections for the virtual draft that starts at noon Atlantic.
“We have our sights set on two players in particular. I am looking to add size down the middle,” Sonier said. “We have our guy slotted for the 11th pick. If we get him we’ll be ecstatic . . . He’s a top-flight player.”
The import draft is a critical tool in building a successful team, but it’s not always as easy as selecting the best player available. Sonier said a lot of work goes in behind the scenes. It includes dealing with agents to see if players will report and if there are expensive buyouts required with their club teams in Europe or Russia.
Sonier said he has a commitment from the players he wants with his two picks.
Sonier said he is a lot more comfortable going into this year’s import draft compared to last year when the team selected German Marco Sedlar, who did not return after the Christmas break.
“I’ve been able to do my homework,” Sonier said. “We had limited coverage last year.”
He attended the World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, N.S., and the world under-18 championship in Finland during the past year, while watching extensive video on 30 players.
Sonier has also used his contacts with agents, NHL scouts and people in Europe to help with the identification process.
“The European draft is paramount for us right now,” Sonier said. “If we get the two guys we have slotted here we’ll be in a really good situation in terms of being able to build our hockey club.”
While the Islanders’ second pick is 71, it is likely to come earlier as some teams will pass on their picks as they already have two Euros on their roster.
The Islanders continue to work on the midget players they drafted a month ago. Some are players who have interested in going to the United States for college hockey.
Sonier said he is expecting an “incredibly competitive camp” beginning Aug. 11.
“We have got the message out to our players from last year that don’t take this years training camp lightly,” he said.
The import draft can be followed at www.chl.ca/draft/chl.
A look at the first 15 picks in today’s Canadian Hockey League import draft:
5. Saint John
12. Moose Jaw
15. Prince George
* - Teams are now unable to trade picks in the import draft, but prior to the rule being implemented Quebec and Sherbrooke completed a deal on Nov. 21, 2012, to flip first-round import picks. Quebec also sent Denis Kamaev to Sherbrooke with Quebec receiving a fifth-round in the midget draft in 2013 in return.
A look at players who have went 11th overall in past import drafts:
2013 – Jacob De La Rose, F, Windsor (OHL).
2012 – Mirco Muller, D, Everett (WHL).
2011 – Zven Andrighetto, F, Quebec (QMJHL).
2010 – Petr Beranek, F, Owen Sound (OHL).
2009 – Jaroslav Vlach, F, Prince George (WHL).
A look at the past players the Charlottetown Islanders/P.E.I. Rocket organization has selected at the import draft:
2013 – Marco Sedlar, F, 33.
2012 – Traded fourth overall pick to Gatineau as part of Alex Noel deal. Gatineau drafted F Martin Reway.
2011 – Tomas Pavelka, D, 26; Matej Beran, F, 35.
2010 – None drafted.
2009 – Adam Polacek, D, 19.