Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Whalers draft Slovakian centerman Otcenas

The Plymouth Whalers had two picks in the annual Canadian Hockey League Import Player Draft today and with their first pick (25th overall) took center Ondrej Otcenas, an 18-year-old who played for HK Dukla Trencin last year in Slovakia.

He was rated among Europeans in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft that never took place.

Otcenas scored 17 goals and added 26 assists for 43 points last season and also had four goals and an assist for Team Slovakia at the IIHF World Under-18 Championships in April, won by the United States. He added four goals in eight playoff games for Trencin.

Otcenas is the second Slovakian ever taken by the Whalers since the draft started in 1992. Milan Kostolny, who played for the team from 1994-1996, was the first.

Plymouth head coach and general manager Mike Vellucci credited Plymouth 's European scout Willy Langer for recommending Otcenas.

“We received excellent reports about Otcenas through Willy,” Vellucci said. “Otcenas is coming off a good year overseas and has a chance to make an impact in Plymouth . We look forward to seeing him in training camp.”

The Whalers passed on their second pick at No. 83.

CHL teams are permitted two imports per team and Plymouth already has forward Vaclav Meidl returning in the fall.

Plymouth has had moderate success in getting their imports to report to the OHL as all their picks since 1992, when the draft was started, have reported with the exception of Jozef Kohut in 1993 and Denis Arkhipov in 1998. Last year’s pick, defenseman Michael Kolarz was traded to the Kingston Frontenacs when Jonas Fiedler returned for his overage season.

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