Would they, should they? There were lots of opinions on whether the Pats would make a selection in the import draft this year. The answer came on Tuesday as they traded Sergei Alkhimov to the Vancouver Giants for 20-year-old Dawson Holt. A conditional pick went each way as well. Sergei was the Pats first pick in the import draft last year at #47. The trade also filled the final over-age spot for the Pats. With the poor season the Pats had last year and the resulting #7 pick in the import draft, choosing a player was obviously too much for John Paddock to pass up.
Nikita Sedov, who was named top defenseman for the Pats in the 2018-19 season, will be back for his 18-year-old campaign as an import.
On Thursday the Pats selected 5-foot-8, 161-pound Russian forward Daniil Gushchin. The Yekaterinberg native played played last season for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL. The now 17-year-old scored 13 goals and had 20 assists in 51 games played. That was good for 5th on the Lumberjacks. He was the top scoring 16-year-old in the league.
Gushchin participated in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup prior to the season. He joined current Pats defenseman Nikita Sedov in winning the bronze medal. As an under-age player, Daniil scored 3 goals and added 3 assists in 5 games.
Midway through the season, Daniil came to Saint John to play in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, organized by Hockey Canada. He was 10th in scoring in his age group with four goals and two assists in six games played. He contributed a shorthanded goal in the second period of the gold medal game to help Team Russia win the tournament.
In April, Daniil was a part of the Russian squad who stunned the loaded American team in the semi-final of the IIHF World Under 18 Hockey Championship en route to a silver medal at the event. Gushchin chipped in one goal and one assist in seven games, again as an under-age player.
Daniil has been playing up in age groups regularly and has thrived. In 2017-18, as a 15-year-old, he scored 21 goals and 18 assists in 22 games with the CSKA Moskva U17 team. He also played two games with the U18 team and scored two goals. His 14 year old season saw him play for the Dynamo Moskva U16 team, and he contributed 11 goals and 16 assists in 13 games played.
With most young players that posses high end talent and scoring ability, what is his complete game like? Will he be able to transition to the WHL and play a decent 200-foot game, while maintaining his scoring ability?
There is always risk in the import draft as to whether or not a player will report. With Daniil already playing in North America, that risk seems to be low. John Paddock has had all his import picks report to the team. I expect this year to be no different.