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CHL teams take shots at top junior European talent

by Adam Kimelman /
NHL Scouting Combine GearSome familiar names from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, as well as a number of players to watch for the 2010 selection process, had their North American rights selected Tuesday in the Canadian Hockey League import draft.

Each of the 60 teams from the three participating leagues -- the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League -- had a chance to draft the best junior-eligible talent from around the world.

Each CHL team has two import slots, and draft position is based on regular-season points acquired in each respective league. The order rotates among the three leagues.

The Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL traded with the Halifax Mooseheads to acquire the No. 1 pick, which they used on Russian-born forward Stanislav Galiev. A 6-foot-1, 182-pound 17-year-old, he played this season with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League. He was seventh in the league with 64 points, and tied for sixth with 29 goals. He is one of the top players eligible for the 2010 Draft.

The WHL's Portland Winter Hawks traded up to the No. 2 spot and selected Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter, who was playing for HC Davos. The 6-1, 203-pound forward led Switzerland at the World Under-18 Championship with 3 goals, 6 points and 16 penalty minutes. Niederreiter also is eligible for the 2010 Entry Draft.

Gabriel Landeskog, who played three games for Djurgardens in the Swedish Elite League at just 16, was picked third by the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, who traded to get up to that spot. Landeskog, a 6-foot, 196-pound right wing, had an assist and was a plus-2 in the SEL, but at the junior under-20 level, he had 21 points and a plus-15 rating in 31 games. He had 4 goals and a team-best plus-7 rating for Sweden at the World Under-18 Championship. Due to a late birthday -- he won't turn 17 until November -- Landeskog won't be Entry Draft-eligible until 2011.

Kirill Kabanov, expected to be among NHL Central Scouting's top-rated Europeans for the 2010 Draft, was taken at No. 7 by the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. Moncton traded up with Lewiston to select the 6-3, 176-pound left wing who went scoreless in six games Spartak Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League.

At the World Under-18 Championship, he had 4 goals and 11 points in seven games.

Teemu Pulkkinen, another likely early pick in the 2010 Draft, was taken at No. 50 by the WHL's Kelowna Rockets. The 5-10, 175-pound left wing was scoreless in three games with Jokerit in the Finnish SM-Liiga, but his real star-making turn was for Finland at the World Under-18 Championship. He was second on the team with 7 goals and a plus-9 rating, and tied for second with 13 points.

Among the more familiar names to NHL fans, Tomas Tatar -- a second-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings at last week's Entry Draft -- was taken by the OHL's Kitchener Rangers with the sixth pick.

Robin Lehner, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated European goaltender and a second-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, was selected by the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at No. 9.

Toni Rajala, the Finnish forward who set the World Under-18 Championship scoring record with 19 points in six games, was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings at No. 14. He was a fourth-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers.

Montreal Canadiens fourth-round pick right wing Alexander Avtsyn was taken by the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL with the 43rd pick.

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