Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Whalers pass on CHL Import Draft

With two good import players already on the roster, the Plymouth Whalers used today’s 2011 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft to acquire two future draft choices.

Plymouth coach-GM Mike Vellucci traded the Whalers’ first pick and 31st overall in today’s draft to Erie. In exchange, Plymouth receives a seventh-round selection in the 2012 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection and a fifth-round pick in the 2014 OHL draft.

The Whalers will pass on their second selection (91st overall) in today’s import draft.

CHL eague teams can play just two import selections. The Whalers current imports – Rickard Rakell, from Sweden (taken in the first round by Anaheim in last weekend’s National Hockey League Entry Draft) and Dario Trutmann, from Switzerland – will return in 2011-12.

“We have two of the best imports in the Canadian Hockey League,” said Vellucci. “Dario and Rickard were important parts of our team last season. They both played in the World Junior Championship last year. We expect them to improve in 2011-12.”

Rakell scored 20 goals and 25 assists for 45 points and was +14 in 49 games last season for the Whalers. He missed 15 games at the end of the season due to injury, but that didn’t stop Anaheim from taking him with the 30th pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

"I saw him at the world juniors a whole bunch and liked him," Anaheim GM Bob Murray told the Orange County Register. "He's a 17-year-old playing in the World Junior and he did a pretty good job. He's a good two-way smart hockey player. He can play center or the wing. We're very happy that he was still there at 30."

As one of the youngest players in the 2011 World Junior Championships, Rakell contributed three assists in five games for Sweden.

Although Rakell will go the Ducks developmental camp this summer and then their training camp in September, Murray doesn’t expect to fast-track him to the NHL.

"He'll finish out his junior career properly," Murray said. "Maybe one year in the minors and then we'll see where he goes. He's very intelligent and plays more of a North American game than a European game.”

Trutmann led the Whalers during the regular season with +17 and scored six goals with 13 assists and 61 PIMs in 62 games last season. He added a goal and three assists in 11 playoff games for Plymouth.

Trutmann played a regular shift for the Swiss during the 2011 World Junior Championship - often against the opposition’s top lines – and scored four assists in six games.

Whalers associate coach Joe Stefan appreciates Trutmann’s approach to the game.

“He plays hard and competes every night,” said Stefan. “He doesn’t back down from anybody. He’ll battle the biggest guys and he enjoys doing that. He’s given us a lift because he moves the puck really well and is smart in his own end and can help us on the power play.”

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