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Wednesday, 10 July 2013 13:53

Broncos own three imports (for now) after CHL draft

Written by  Brad Brown
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Could three be a crowd for the Swift Current Broncos this fall?


Hockey Canada is expected to rule later this month on the import status of 18-year-old forward Igor Leonenko, but even the impact of that ruling is up for debate.
Leonenko, originally from Belarus, was the Broncos’ second-round pick July 3 in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, following their first-round selection of 1995-born defenceman Julius Honka.
With Finnish netminder Eetu Laurikainen expected back between the pipes for Swift Current in the fall, and over-age Czech defenceman Richard Nedomlel expected to turn pro, that would appear to leave the Western Hockey League team with three imports — one too many, as per CHL rules.
Except that Leonenko, who spent last season playing midget hockey in California, may not be an import at all.

A senior official with the Canadian Junior Hockey League — the national umbrella organization for junior A hockey — says Leonenko holds an American passport, which would make him an American citizen and a non-import by definition.

 

The official went on to confirm that an appeal is currently before Hockey Canada to have Leonenko confirmed as a non-import in order to make him eligible for junior A this coming season.

However, WHL vice-president of hockey Richard Doerksen said Wednesday that the CHL has its own rules regarding what constitutes an import status and that Leonenko's transfer to Swift Current is already being processed with the International Ice Hockey Federation.

 

If it does in fact turn out Leonenko is an import, the Broncos will eventually have to choose two and trade or cut one loose.

If he's declared a non-import, Swift Current could presumably lose him as an import draft pick but turn around and list him immediately, thus keeping all three players.

If he's declared a non-import, Swift Current could presumably lose him as an import draft pick but turn around and list him immediately, thus keeping all three players.
“We’ll see how it all pans out,” said Broncos head coach and general manager Mark Lamb. “It’s a little bit complicated that we really can’t even say what it is right now, with him in the U.S. and playing in San Jose.
“We drafted him anyways … but I don’t want to speculate on that too much right now.”
Should Leonenko arrive in Swift Current next month for training camp (he confirmed via email Monday that he does plan to report), Lamb is hopeful he can compete for a Top 6 forward spot.
“He’s more of an unknown … he hasn’t played a lot of high-level hockey but he’s dominated the levels he’s been at, so it’s time for him to take that next step,” said Lamb. “He’s a big guy (six-foot-five) with great hands and a good shot.”
With Honka, the Broncos are hoping he can help fill some of the void on defence created by the graduation of Dalton Reum and presumed departures of Nedomlel and Reece Scarlett.
Honka had 15 points and 47 penalty minutes in 42 games last season with JYP of Jr. A SM-Liiga, and was also part of Finland’s bronze-medal team at the 2013 under-18 world championship in January. In the 2-1 bronze medal win over Russia, Honka assisted on Finland’s first goal and was on the ice for its second.
“He’s a real high-skilled, real competitive, offensive-minded player that’s improving all the time,” said Lamb. “The scouts and the agents and the people that I use who have seen this guy play gave him a lot of high praise.”
Listed at 5-foot-10 and 167 pounds, Honka also shares a hometown (Jyvaskyla, Finland) with Laurikainen.
“I talked to Eetu about him and asked him what type of player he was and Eetu gave him rave reviews,” said Lamb. “I really trust Eetu. He’s a smart, smart kid. He’s a student of the game.
“So I’d heard that from a lot of people, how good he was, and when Eetu validated it, it pretty much solidified it for us.”

Read 2876 times Last modified on Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:21