Pats rolling dice in risky import draft
By Greg Harder, Leader-Post
June 27, 2012
The Regina Pats are prepared to gamble on the CHL import draft, even though they're not holding all the cards.
As part of his final preparations for today's draft, GM Chad Lang has been busy playing a cat-and-mouse game in hopes of determining which players are coming to North America, not to mention which ones are willing to play for Regina.
In some cases, the process requires calling a player's bluff.
"Everybody knows this draft is unique to say the least," said Lang, who holds the 32nd pick out of 60 CHL teams. "There's a lot of games played with not only the various associations (in Europe) but with agents as well. There are situations where these kids are under contract in their home countries. You have to make sure if they are (under contract) that you're able to get their release to come over."
It's easier said than done, especially since things aren't always as they seem when it comes to the import draft.
"You spend so much time trying to gather information, not being able to see these players (yourself) for the most part," continued Lang. "You have to take recommendations and the word of (others), whether that be agents or NHL scouting staffs. They give you their feedback but the reality is sometimes that can be skewed simply because they are evaluating these players on the potential of being a pro and not necessarily being a good junior player."
Identifying players is one thing, getting them is another.
"It's frustrating when you know players are coming and agents want to say they're not, trying to maybe dictate how the draft goes," said Lang. "That's unfortunate because, if it is a draft, all the players eligible should be put in a pool and, based on your selection, you should have equal opportunity to select them. But that's not the case. That's the frustrating part but we know that's how it is. You can either not select a player or go through the process and try to find the best player available."
Although the Pats hold two picks in the two-round draft - 32nd and 92nd - Lang only plans to make one selection. That player is slated to replace Slovak defenceman Martin Marincin, who's slated to turn pro next season.
Lang said Tuesday he'll take the best player available, regardless of whether it's a forward or defenceman.
The Pats' second import spot belongs to Czech forward Dominik Volek, who is expected to return despite the fact he has apparently been flirting with a junior team in Sweden. Volek wasn't selected in the NHL entry draft on the weekend but the Pats were informed Tuesday that he has been invited to attend a summer prospects camp with the Calgary Flames.
"It's our intention to see him back," said Lang. "He's an asset for us. We feel he's part of our club moving forward.
"But it's no different than when we select a player (in the import draft). Until we see the whites of their eyes, there's always the chance that they're not going to be here or not report. That's the frustrating part and the gamble associated with the import draft.
"You select players with the expectation that they're going to come over and you try to do your due diligence to make sure they do, yet there are times you select guys and find out they're either under contract or they come back to you and say now they're going to sign with a pro team. There are so many variables but we're going to go through the process and see how we do."
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