The Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft, allowing all teams within its three territorially-divided major junior leagues (Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Western Hockey League) the opportunity to select up to two ‘import’ players of international descent.
The 22 Western Hockey League teams selected 32 total players from 12 different countries. With each team being given a random selection order, Manitoba’s Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg ICE were each given the opportunity to make two picks.
Both of the Manitoba-based WHL teams had the opportunity to make two selections, with the Brandon Wheat Kings choosing at No. 29 and No. 98, while the Winnipeg ICE picked 59th and 65th overall in the two-round, 60-team dispersal. However, the Wheat Kings decided to forego their second round selection, choosing just once at pick No. 29.
With recent Import Draft selections providing good fortune to both the Wheat Kings and ICE – see Jiri Patera from 2018 and Michal Teply from 2019 – it will only be a matter of months until Manitoba’s two Western League teams know if their respective selections from Wednesday will pay off.
The two-round draft took place online with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three leagues. All CHL Clubs are permitted to carry two import players on their roster each season.
Once again in following the 2020 mold of the draft, this year’s Import Draft was also held prior to the NHL’s annual Entry Draft – typically hosted somewhere from the 20th to 30th of June. But with the current COVID-19 pandemic changing the entire landscape, CHL teams were required to make some decisions prior to knowing the full extent of their playing rosters for the coming 2021-22 season.