Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced details for the 29th annual CHL Import Draft which will take place next Tuesday June 30, 2020, beginning at 11:00 am Eastern.
On Tuesday, June 30th the Hamilton Bulldogs hold the 16th overall selection in the first round of the 2020 CHL Import Draft. The Bulldogs have had tremendous success with import players seeing outstanding talents such as Marian Studenic, Jan Jenik & Jan Mysak all suit up for the franchise since it arrived for the 2015-16 season.
The good news for the Hamilton Bulldogs when it comes to the Import Draft does not stop there however as the 16th overall selection has historically been a strong one.
Since the inception of the CHL Import Draft in 1992 the 16th overall pick has been used in 26 of 28 drafts, only passed on in 2015 by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and 2018 by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. From the 26 selections made with the 16th pick, 21 have signed in the Canadian Hockey League and played in one of the member leagues. Additionally, 13 of the 26 players chosen with the 16th overall pick have been drafted to the National Hockey League with an additional player, Kristians Rubins of the Medicine Hat Tigers, signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs as an undrafted free agent in April.
Most famously of the crop of 16th overall selections, Jan Hrdina & Andrej Meszaros would both go on to play in over 500 games.
Taken 16th overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 1994 CHL Import Draft from the Czech Republic, Jan Hrdina would be a breakout star in the Western Hockey League recording 70 goals & 103 assists for 173 over 117 games across a pair of seasons in Seattle. Hrdina’s impressive performances would lead to his selection in the 5th round (128th overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft leading to a very productive 7 year NHL career that would see the Czech center produce 101 goals & 196 assists for 297 points across 513 games played.
A decade after Seattle chose Hrdina, the Vancouver Giants would select Slovakian defenseman Andrej Meszaros with the 16th overall pick in 2004. The fleet footed defender had been a 1st round selection (23rd overall) of the Ottawa Senators in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and the Giants had themselves a star when he committed to report to the WHL. Playing just one season with Vancouver before turning going to the NHL, Meszaros would impress recording 11 goals & 30 assists for 41 points in 59 games to lead the Giants in points by a defenseman as an 18-year old. Meszaros would go on to a long and productive NHL career totalling 63 goals & 175 assists for 238 points across 645 games in 10 NHL seasons.
Impact selections with he 16th pick haven’t been limited to two breakout NHLers though, Jonas Andersson (1999, North Bay Centennials) and Tomas Plihal (2001, Kootenay Ice) both scored at a better then a point-per-game pace in their CHL careers, with Plihal winning a WHL Championship & Memorial Cup during his time in Kootenay. Oskar Osala (2005, Mississauga IceDogs), William Wallen (2008, Mississauga St. Michaels Majors) & Mikkel Aaagard (2014, Niagara IceDogs) would all go on to post better then 0.65 points-per-game across their time in the OHL as high end performers as well.
On defense, Adam Borzecki (1997, Rimouski Oceanic), Kristians Rubins (2016, Medicine Hat) & Nikita Okhotyuk (2017, Ottawa 67’s) all played in more then 100 games in the CHL as staples on the blueline for their respective teams while Dmitri Sinitsyn (2013, Regina Pats) had a more Meszaros like WHL run recording 44 points on 10 goals & 34 assists in 69 games. Kamloops’ 2019 selection Inaki Baragano had a solid WHL rookie campaign, recording 5 goals & 11 assists for 16 points in 60 games and appears likely to return to the WHL for a second season.
As the Hamilton Bulldogs prepare to make the 16th selection in the 2020 CHL Import Draft, the team will have not only it’s strong history with import talent but a strong history from the 16th selection itself, which has seen 81% of players chosen report to the CHL with a high percentage of those becoming key contributors to their respective teams.