One of the biggest names in the CHL Import Draft is likely staying home next season. Left winger Andre Burakovsky was a first round choice of the Washington Capitals and was then taken fifth overall by the Ontario League’s Erie Otters. But Burakovsky’s North American agent, Kevin Epp, said his client is not coming over.
“We never had any conversations with Erie,” Epp said. “We had indicated to teams in the CHL that he would be staying in Sweden. It was surprising to all of us when they picked him.”
Epp said the Otters emailed him two weeks before the draft to ask about Burakovsky’s availability and were told he would not come over.
The Import Draft has long been a contentious issue in major junior, with many pundits attacking it as being slanted towards certain “big” teams. Robert Burakovsky, who had a cup of coffee with the Ottawa Senators in 1993-94, made waves in the Swedish press when he claimed to a blog that his son had a deal with the Windsor Spitfires beforehand (though the Spits are happily negotiating with Montreal pick Jacob De La Rose right now).
Needless to say, legendary Otters GM Sherry Bassin is not pleased with Burakovsky’s decision.
“We took the best player available,” he said. “This is a draft, this is not free agency. The whole idea of a draft is equity.”
Bassin said he spoke with the Washington Capitals before picking Burakovsky and they were on board. Last year, Bassin nabbed Swedish goalie Oscar Dansk in the draft and while there had been rumors about the Columbus Blue Jackets pick being selected later by London, Dansk reported to Erie and the Jackets’ brass was pleased with his season.
So Burakovsky will stay at home, but according to Epp the left winger may not be back with Malmo and will perhaps move to another organization. He had an up-and-down year with the RedHawks, though clearly brings a lot of offensive assets to the table.
Ironically, I recently spoke with a different agent who was complaining about the tightening of rules surrounding Europeans heading to major junior. He would like to see the restrictions on benefits loosened, as things like parental visits are a lot more complex and expensive when the family is flying from say, Moscow or Prague to Prince George or Rouyn-Noranda.
OLYMPICS A MOTIVATING FACTOR FOR BARKOV
According to friend of THN Panu Markkanen of MTV3 in Finland, Aleksander Barkov is excited about coming over to take a crack at the Florida Panthers roster. The second overall pick in the draft, Barkov hasn’t signed his entry-level contract yet, but could do so within a week. His shoulder is still healing from a playoff injury, but he told Markkanen that he wants to earn his place in the NHL. Also, Barkov believes playing in the NHL will strengthen his chances of playing in the Olympics.
IS MACINNIS OHL BOUND?
Twitter has been abuzz with the rumor that big left winger Ryan MacInnis is leaving Team USA’s National Team Development Program in favor of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, but that’s news to both the NTDP and the Rangers. MacInnis, ranked 29th overall by International Scouting Services for the 2014 draft, is the son of Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis. The Rangers have not signed MacInnis and the NTDP expects him to continue his apprenticeship in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he will graduate from the under-17 squad to the under-18s. Will this change? There’s plenty of summer left and the Rangers have enticed Americans such as Justin Bailey (Buffalo, 52nd overall in 2013) and John Gibson (Anaheim, 39th overall in 2011) over to major junior in recent years, but as of now no move has been made.