Colts to go forward with import draft


The Barrie Colts will seek out a forward when the Canadian Hockey League import draft unfolds today.

The Colts hold the 52nd pick in the first round and the 76th selection in Round 2 of the draft, which is conducted via teleconference and the Internet.

"First and foremost, we'll be looking for a forward," the OHL club's assistant general manager Jason Ford said. "Hopefully, a top-six forward."

Barrie originally held the 16th overall selection, but dealt that pick to the Toronto St. Michael's Majors as part of previous dealings with the Majors.

Barrie's rights to the 52nd pick come from the Soo Greyhounds as part of a package that also brought defenceman Brett Halstead to Barrie early last year.

The Colts will make their best attempt at landing a gem in a draft that's considered night and day in comparison to the Priority Selection, the North American talent pipeline to the OHL.

"If you compare the two drafts, with the main draft, we have guys watching players all season," Ford said. "The challenge here is trying to rate guys, because you don't get a chance to see many of them (play).

"(But) it's something we work at, because it is important." The import draft is always a numbers game, and the 2008 edition is no different for the Colts, who are expected to have one opening for an import player this season.

Colts Slovakian captain Tomas Marcinko has signed with the New York Islanders and is expected to go pro this season. Czech Rep. blue-liner Jaroslav Kruzik will enter his second season after being selected 50th overall by Barrie in last year's import draft.

CHL teams are allowed two import players.

"Right now, it looks like (Tomas) is pegged to play professionally (this season)," Ford said, adding Barrie plans to keep its first-round pick, but would consider trading away its second-round selection, or not using the selection at all.

Ford said the current lack of a transfer agreement between the International Ice Hockey Federation and NHL could also affect this year's import draft, as some import players could not be allowed to commit to play in North America.

Another decision the Colts will have to make is whether to select an older, more experienced player that could provide an instant boost, or go with a younger player and try to ease him into the system.

"We're trying to weight those two," he said.

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