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Battalion GM prepares for a very different CHL Import Draft

'It is no different than the OHL Priority Selection, we have been forced to pivot but everybody is in the same boat'
2020 adam dennis scrum
Adam Dennis during a media scrum back in January, 2020. File photo by Chris Dawson/BayToday.

Adam Dennis admits it is a tough situation to navigate through. 

The North Bay Battalion general manager is preparing for a very different Canadian Hockey League Import Draft on June 30.  

Like the OHL Priority Selection, the North Bay Battalion has the top pick in the online draft.  

"It stinks because we were hoping to go to the U18, to go to an NHL Draft live and really have some more in-person discussions," noted Dennis.  

"It is no different than the OHL Priority Selection, we have been forced to pivot but everybody is in the same boat. We are doing a lot more video scouting, a lot more taking advantage of Zoom but we have been making it through that is for sure."

Dennis says the key will be to bring in an impactful player with the top selection.  

"We want a guy who is going to come in and play a role for us and a big role," said Dennis.  

"In fairness to a player coming from another country, it is important that we find the right fit and give a guy a chance to succeed. With that being said there have been a lot of conversations and we have a lot of video tools and analytics that we can use in terms of finding players. We have been watching games from them playing in international tournaments. For some of the elite players, there is video available so technology is very helpful in that capacity." 

The import draft usually comes a few days after the NHL Entry Draft. But the time and date for that draft is still unknown as the NHL looks to start its playoffs potentially this summer. 

"If you are looking at a player that is not draft eligible yet then you won't have too many issues but for those players who are draft eligible a lot of them are 'wait and see' what the NHL team that drafts them would like from them," noted Dennis.  

If they are drafted by an NHL team, then the player may have the ability - like Battalion 2017 CHL first-rounder Filip Chytil - to play professionally overseas or play in the American Hockey League. That's another challenge Dennis has to deal with.  

"So there are a lot of conversations with the NHL teams once the player is drafted and that does go into it so without that there is one less factor involved in the planning stages. It could be good or bad, it could be helpful or not, you are not really sure until you get there so, like I have said, this is kind of uncharted waters for all of us but we are all in the same boat so we are going to try to prepare ourselves the best we can and be ready for all options."

Despite that uncertainty, Dennis will not indicate what age is a priority.   

"I don't think we are really going to discriminate by age," he said.  

"If we can get an impactful player that is 17, that would check off a lot of boxes. Like I said off the top, we are hoping to add either a top-six forward or a top-four defenceman. Whether that is 17, 18 or 19; I think with the bulk of our team, we are a little bit younger but you need a nice mix to be a successful team in the OHL and that is what we strive to be. We are looking to stay young but that does not mean we are not looking at all options."

Dennis says the Battalion expects to use both their first and second round CHL Import Picks in the upcoming draft. 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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