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Forward Tolvanen to Oshawa in CHL Import Draft

Finnish right wing eyed among top prospects for 2017 NHL Draft

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Eeli Tolvanen, a Finnish right wing expected to be one of the top prospects for the 2017 NHL Draft, was picked by Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League with the 17th pick of the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft on Tuesday.

Tolvanen, a 5-foot-10, 174-pound forward, had 38 points (17 goals, 21 assists) in 49 games with Sioux City of the United States Hockey League this season. He also helped Finland win the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, when he tied for the tournament lead with seven goals in seven games. He's committed to Boston College for the 2017-18 season.

"Tolvanen is a solid skater in all directions, is creative and has good puck skills," NHL Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen said.

Two other top 2017 draft prospects from Finland were picked Tuesday. Defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken No. 41 by Windsor of the OHL, and left wing Kristian Vesalainen was taken in the second round (No. 68) by Flint of the OHL.

Vaakanainen, a 6-1, 187-pound left-shot defender, had six points in 25 games with Blues in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, and three points in seven games for Finland at the World U-18.

Vesalainen, a 6-3, 203-pound forward, moved from Finland to Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League this season and had two points in 19 games. He also had 34 points in 37 games with Frolunda's junior team. He had six points in seven games for Finland at the World U-18s.

"Vaakanainen is a smooth skater with vision and a good set of skills, including skating, passing, shot, vision," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said. "Vesalainen is originally from HIFK Helsinki but moved to Frolunda in order to improve. He's a big, physical power forward who likes to go straight for the net."

Prospects for the 2017 draft from Russia were selected with the first three picks, starting with center Klim Kostin going No. 1 to Kootenay of the Western Hockey League.

Kostin, a 6-3, 183-pound center, had eight goals and 13 assists in 30 games with MVD Balashikha in Russia's junior league this season. He had four assists for Russia at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

"Klim Kostin is a world-class player who captained his national team to a silver medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and also led his country at the Under-18 World Championships in April," general manager Jeff Chynoweth told the Kootenay website. "His size and skating ability have already caught the attention of scouts in anticipation of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft."

With the second pick, Guelph of the OHL selected defenseman Dmitri Samorukov from CSKA's team in Russia's under-17 league. The 6-2, 185-pound left-shot defender had four goals and 12 assists in 28 games. He also tied for the team lead with five points in five games for Russia at the World U-18s.

"I watched him play six games in both the Five Nations [Tournament] in Plymouth [Mich.] and the U-18 in Grand Forks [N.D.]," GM Mike Kelly told the Guelph website. "We feel he is a potential top NHL pick in the upcoming draft."

At No. 3, Baie-Comeau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League selected left wing Ivan Chekhovich. The 5-10, 167-pound forward had 15 goals and nine assists in 31 games with Dynamo Moscow's team in Russia's under-17 league, and one point in five games for Russia at the World U-18s.

Chicoutimi of the QMJHL chose center German Rubtsov at No. 27. Rubtsov was picked by the Philadelphia Flyers with the 22nd pick of the 2016 draft. Rubtsov has two years left on his contract with Chekhov Vityaz in the Kontinental Hockey League, so his ability to come to North America is in question. Rubtsov had 26 points in 28 games with Team Russia U-18 in the MHL, Russia's junior league.

Eleven other players picked in the 2016 NHL Draft were selected in the first round of the import draft Tuesday, among them forward Janne Kuokkanen, a second-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes (No. 43), selected No. 56 by London of the OHL, the 2016 Memorial Cup champion; and defenseman Filip Hronek, a second-round pick (No. 54) of the Detroit Red Wings, selected with the 14th pick by Saginaw of the OHL.

Seventy-nine players were picked in the two-round draft. All 60 CHL teams have one pick in each round, but because teams are permitted two import players on their roster, some pass on their selections. Goaltenders are not eligible.

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