IceDogs look forward
The Niagara IceDogs chose Giancarlo Chanton in the 2019 Canadian Hockey League import draft. Photo by: OHL IMAGES.
The Niagara IceDogs are hopeful of adding an impact player at the Canadian Hockey League import draft Tuesday.
The draft, which will be conduced on line, begins at 11 a.m.
The IceDogs select fourth overall — by far the highest pick they have owned since the draft began in 2007 — and are looking to bring in a player who can step into the lineup next season.
“We have some nice options out there for us,” IceDogs general manager Joey Burke said. “There are a lot of things you need to look into. The most important thing, especially picking as high as we are, we want a guy who can come in and make an impact for us.”
Burke conceded the IceDogs are likely to choose a forward, barring something unforeseen in the top three picks. North Bay, Acadie-Bathurst and Swift Current own the top three selections, respectively.
“We’re certainly targeting a forward,” Burke said. “There are always some interesting goalie names and high-end defencemen who get their names out there, but realistically all the guys we targeted have been forwards. It would take a home run superstar at another position to make us from not taking a forward.”
Burke indicated there are several top forwards available, but their availability is a question.
“There’s three Russian players out there that dominated the U17 tournament and are first round NHL locks and absolute superstars, but none of them are coming,” he said. “You might not be getting the Ovechkins and the Malkins of the world but there are still very good players who want to come over.”
Burke said the COVID-19 pandemic is also a factor.
“One thing that’s made it a bit interesting this year is with the COVID-19 players are more hesitant to come over more than ever before,” he said. “It’s been a little bit of a challenge there as well but certainly there are some very high-end guys if we get them they would come 100 per cent and that becomes the most important thing.”
Burke said the organization is attempting to balance their immediate needs with their long-term vision of the team.
“We’re a younger group on our way back up so it’s a bit of a Catch-22,” he said. “Ideally we’d like to add a young forward who could grow with us for two or three years and be at his best with us as an 18-or-19-year old. But the downside is the younger you bring them over the less ready they are to make an immediate impact.
“You really have to measure the most important aspect you are looking for and combine the best of both worlds.”
Burke is also aware of the importance of a balance of youth and experience on the roster.
“Even though we are young, you don’t want to be too young,” he said. “You need that leadership and veteran presence. You need that dynamic in the room.”
Burke said the IceDogs intend on bringing back import defenceman Giancarlo Chanton, who was their first-round selection last season at 47, and therefore will pass on their selection in the second and final round.
The IceDogs have a history of hit and miss with their picks.
Kyen Sopa and Daniel Bukac were solid additions from the 2018 draft while Mikkell Aagaard in 2014 and Alex Mikulovich in 2013 were also good OHL players.
BPSN and the COVID-19 pandemic
Like all small businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, BPSN is not sure what the business landscape will look like when things return to normal. Our website is financed primarily through advertising revenues and partnership agreements with many local sports and educational organizations in Niagara. Our goal is to continue providing our readers with the extensive local sports coverage you have come to expect from our site. Since our inception, we have written more than 2,800 stories on our local athletes and teams. Many of our readers have given us one-time donations or send us monthly contributions to help offset our costs. We would be eternally grateful if others would consider doing the same by using the Support Us button located on the right-hand side of our home page below the mosaic.
Thank you for your continued support.
Bill and Bernie.