Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Whalers pass on CHL Import Draft

The Plymouth Whalers traded their first pick (56th overall) in today’s Canadian Hockey League Import Draft to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The Whalers also had the 116th pick in the CHL Import Draft and passed on that selection.

CHL teams can play two Import players, or non-North Americans, per season. The Whalers’ quota is already filled with returning defenseman Jozef Sladok and goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

“We expect Sladok and Neuvirth back for training camp,” Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci said.

Neuvirth (pictured), a second-round pick in 2006 of the Washington Capitals, was outstanding for the Whalers last season, winning the OHL’s F.W. “Dinty” Moore Trophy in compiling the OHL’s lowest goals-against average (2.32) as a rookie while leading the league with a .932 save percentage. Paired with Brownstown’s Jeremy Smith, the Whalers won the OHL’s Dave Pinkney Trophy in allowing a league-low 173 goals. Neuvirth continued his strong play in the 2007 Playoffs, posting a 2.45 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and 14-4 won-loss record as the Whalers won the OHL championship.

Neuvirth has been signed by the Capitals. Working again with Smith – who was selected by Nashville in the second round (54th overall) in last Saturday’s NHL Entry Draft – the Whalers have strength in goal going into the 2007-08 season.

Sladok developed into a fan favorite last season in Plymouth, scoring three assists with 100 penalty minutes in 28 games.

Plymouth Import Draft Selections, 1992-present
2007 – no selections
2006 - Michal Neuvirth (27th overall), Jozef Sladok (39th overall)
2005 - Ondrej Otcenas (25th overall)
2004 - Michael Kolarz (38th overall)
2003 - Vaclav Meidl (9th overall)
2002 - Martin Cizek (34th overall)
2001 - Jonas Fiedler (52nd overall)
2000 - no selections
1999 - Tomas Kurka (7th overall), Libor Ustrnul (31st overall)
1998 - Tomek Valtonen (14th overall), Denis Arkhipov (35th overall)
1997 - Yuri Babenko (12th overall), Steve Lyle (27th overall)
1996 - Sergei Fedotov (4th overall)
1995 - Jan Vodrazka (11th overall)
1994 - Milan Kostolny (38th overall)
1993 - Jozef Kohut (32nd overall)
1992 - Richard Ujvary (11th overall)

Photo by Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers

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