WHL links and notes: import goalie restriction removed?

With so much happening this summer, we at DubNetwork are moving towards having an overall post for the day on the news and links to some great work out there.

But first, it has been widely rumored that the restriction the CHL placed on its member teams selecting goalies in the annual CHL Import Draft back in 2013 has been lifted. Meaning that as soon as this coming draft on June 28th, WHL teams can draw from European goalie talent.

The last netminder to play in the WHL that was selected in the Import Draft was Marek Langhammer back in 2012. The Medicine Hat Tigers took him with the 47th overall pick. Langhammer played until 2014-15 with the Tigers playing in 120 regular season games and 29 playoff games. He spent the last three years in the Arizona Coyotes’ system, playing in two NHL games.

Eetu Larikainen (Swift Current), Patrik Polivka (Victoria) and Joonas Korpisalo (Prince George – did not sign) were also taken in that last CHL Import Draft.

In the 20 years that the CHL Import Draft allowed goalies to be taken, only 19 were selected. Of those 19, only 15 ever played a game in the WHL. Both the OHL and QMJHL had goalies taken far more frequently than the Western League.

Here are the teams that have drafted import goalies and the goalie(s) they selected.

Victoria- Polivka.

Swift Current- Laurikainen, Steffen Soberg#, Joni Ortio#.

Prince George- Korpisalo#.

Medicine Hat- Langhammer, Tomas Vosvrda.

Saskatoon- Andrei Makarov, Anton Khudobin.

Vancouver- Jonathan Lilahti#, Marek Scwarz.

Calgary- Juraj Holly.

Lethbridge- Ville Kolppanen, Juha Metsola.

Tri-City- Alexander Pechursky.

Seattle- Riku Helenius.

Moose Jaw- Rastislav Stana.

Red Deer – Patrik Bartosak

Regina- Alexander Fomichyov. He never played for them but did play in the WHL with Calgary and Seattle.

#= did not play in the WHL.

Also of note is the fact that in the time the CHL has not allowed European goalies, the USHL has welcomed them with open arms. This gave netminders interested in playing in North America, an outlet to do so.

In 2017-18, the USHL had 10 goalies from Europe with the leader in GAA and save percentage being Filip Larsson from Sweden.

The lifting of the ban has been under serious consideration since February when CHL commissioner David Branch told Postmedia it was under consideration. He was adamant that if it was removed it did not mean that it was a mistake. “It was about comparing the development program that has been put in place right across the country through the efforts of Hockey Canada and their branches and each of the three leagues,” Branch said.

He now believes that Hockey Canada’s development program has improved over the past five years and really values the Canadian goalie.

The move when it was made was a puzzling one as not that many of the CHL teams had an import goalie.

We reached out to the WHL to confirm what has been reported, but have yet to hear back.

Seattle signs Sanders

The Seattle Thunderbirds announced on Tuesday that they have inked Gig Harbor, Washington forward Mekai Sanders to a standard player agreement. Now former general manager but current vice president of hockey operations Russ Farwell relayed that Sanders was the first local player they had drafted who had the potential to become an elite player.

Sanders played with the Compuware Bantam Major AAA team last year before being selected by Seattle in the ninth round of the 2018 WHL Bantam draft. His team won the HPBHL title.

Sanders was the second 2003-born player signed by Seattle with second round draft pick Conner Roulette being inked back on June 6th.

Malukhin not coming back to the Thunderbirds

Seattle ended the 2017-18 season with two import forwards. Both were eligible to return to the team in 2018-19 but neither is doing so. Sami Moilanen opted to forego his 19-year-old WHL season to play professionally in Finland and today Farwell made it clear that 2000-born forward Nikita Malukhin will not be coming back to the team. From his comment, it seems that this was the team’s decision. He will be one to watch should a WHL team not be able to get an import they select to come over as he has already played in the WHL and has signed a player agreement.

Malukhin started the season late due to an injury and struggled to find a spot in the lineup. The Russian native had five goals and four assists for nine points in 54 games. He got into just one playoff game.

Seattle will now be making two import picks in this year’s draft.

Kamloops parting with Sigrist:

-The Kamloops Blazers will also be making two picks in the 2018 CHL Import Draft. They reportedly have parted with Swiss forward Justin Sigrist. He had ten points in 2017-18 and played for Switzerland at the 2018 WJHC. He is another player who could find a home with another WHL team. Sigrist was the 42nd pick in last year’s draft.

Hockey Manitoba announces their U16 POE Summer Camp roster:

Tuesday Hockey Manitoba whittled down their list of 40 players down to 29 and 2018 WHL draftees were well represented. 23 of the 2003-born players were drafted by WHL teams.

Brandon: forward Cabrel Labossiere (third round), forward Owen Weihs (fifth round)

Calgary: forward Rory Neill (third round)

Everett: forward Carter Halamandaris (fourth round)

Kelowna: d-man William Irvine (sixth round)

Kootenay: d-man Carson Lambos (second overall pick), d-man Hughie Hooker (seventh round), forward Skyler Bruce (second round)

Moose Jaw: forward Eric Alarie (22nd overall pick)

Portland: forward Dawson Pasternak (fourth round pick), forward Aidan Litke (ninth round).

Prince Albert: D-man Tayem Gislason (sixth round)

Prince George: goalie Tyler Brennan (first round), d-man Hudson Thornton (second round)

Regina: forward Colby Bear (11th round), Colby Wotton (seventh round)

Seattle: forward Conner Roulette (second round), defenseman Aidan Brook (fourth round)

Spokane: forward Grady Lane (eighth round)

Victoria: forward Roux Bazin (eighth round), forward Trentyn Crane (fifth round)

Vancouver: d-man Kyle Melo (11th round), forward Hunter Lies (second round)

The 29 players will partake in a camp in Winnipeg from August 16-18 before playing in an exhibition tournament at Shattuck St. Mary’s in December.

Luding on the move again:

-The Seattle Thunderbirds announced today that they moved goalie Dorrin Luding to the Saskatoon Blades for a conditional pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft. Luding was originally drafted by the Blades back in 2014. He played just one game for them in 2015-16. In 2016-17 he played for the Valley West Hawks in the BCMML, but did play for the Everett Silvertips in one game.

Dorrin Luding (Brian Liesse)

Last year, Luding played 11 games in the early going for Everett when Carter Hart was out but did not have a spot when he came back. At the same time, Seattle was faced with some injuries to their goalies and they made a move for Luding, sending a ninth round pick to Everett.

Luding will be going into his 19-year-old season though and with Liam Hughes also 19 and Carl Stankowski set to return for his 18-year-old season, there was no room at the inn once again for Luding.

He will be getting an opportunity to compete for a spot in Saskatoon with 17-year-old Nolan Maier looking to be the starter.

WHL head coach or general manager positions made available since the end of the year:

Prince George Cougars:

General Manager: Mark Lamb

Kamloops Blazers

Head Coach: ?

General Manager: Matt Bardsley – came over from the Portland Winterhawks.

Seattle Thunderbirds:

General Manager: Bill La Forge – came over from the Everett Silvertips.

Edmonton Oil Kings:

Head Coach: ?

General Manager: ?

Swift Current Broncos:

Head Coach: ?

Manny Viveiros was also director of hockey operations as the Broncos did not have an official general manager but rather shared the duties.

Vancouver Giants:

Head Coach: ?

General Manager: Barclay Parneta – came over from the Tri-City Americans where he was assistant GM.


-The Portland Winterhawks have registered a bunch of domain names recently and five of them had to do with NHL-to-Portland. Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune sat down with the Winterhawks president Doug Piper. It’s worth a read.

-Carson Miller of the Prince Albert Raiders has to be in contention if you were to hand out the league’s best pure athlete. He is competing in both track-and-field and lacrosse this summer. The former first round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft struggled last year after suffering a shoulder injury. Jeff D’Andrea has more here.

Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province takes a very early look at some of the WHL talent that could hear their names called at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.

-Mathew Barzal won the NHL’s Calder trophy as its rookie of the year. The former Seattle Thunderbirds star had quite the WHL career.

-Former Edmonton Oil Kings assistant coach Ryan Marsh was not out of work long as he was named associate coach for the Saskatoon Blades. As the StarPhoenix reported, both Marsh and Blades head coach Mitch Love are from Quesnel, B.C.

-Some good news out of Lethbridge as the three players burned in the fire near Calgary last Friday are making progress. Ryan Vandervlis is now off of dialysis and Jordy Bellerive and Matt Alfaro are also improving. Vandervlis is still in a medically-induced coma.

In a poll conducted by the Everett Herald, it seems that most fans think that Riley Sutter will be taken first among Silvertips players in this weekend’s NHL draft. He took home 56 percent of the votes, while Connor Dewar got 23 percent and 21 percent went to homegrown d-man Wyatte Wylie.

-The Kamloops Blazers and new general manager Matt Bardsley have been busy. On Wednesday they announced the signing of forward Matthew Seminoff. This was the fourth player from the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft that the Blazers have inked. They had already signed other 2003-born players Logan Stankoven, Logan Bairos and Caedan Bankier.

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