Hectic summer sees 10 CHLers from 2019 NHL Draft ink first contract


Less than two months after the 2019 NHL Draft, 10 Canadian Hockey League talents have signed entry-level contracts.

The Tampa Bay Lightning wasted no time in putting pen to paper with Kelowna Rockets forward Nolan Foote, who was inked to a three-year agreement just four days following the opening round of the draft when he was chosen with the 27th overall selection.

The son of longtime NHLer and current Rockets head coach Adam Foote, the budding forward joins another Rockets graduate with the Lightning in brother and 20-year-old defenceman Cal Foote, who suited up with Kelowna from 2015-18.

As for the younger Foote, who finished last season just shy of a point-per-game pace with 36 goals and 27 assists in 66 appearances, he is one of seven players from the Western Hockey League drafted in 2019 to have since signed an entry-level contract.

This year, the top selection from the WHL came at No. 3 when the Chicago Blackhawks called the name of Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach.

Dach, who models his game after Anaheim Ducks captain and Calgary Hitmen graduate Ryan Getzlaf, is a noted playmaker with a keen ability to dish to his linemates. That much was evident with the Blades last season when he finished third in team scoring with 73 points in 62 games.

Sticking in Saskatchewan, the Washington Capitals seemingly came away impressed when scouting the Prince Albert Raiders as the club made a pair of selections from the Ed Chynoweth Cup champions.

Leading the way was impressive 20-year-old forward Brett Leason, who was taken with pick No. 56 following a breakout campaign in 2018-19 that saw him notch 36 goals and 53 assists, good for a 57-point improvement from the previous year. Leason has the chance to jump to the pro ranks next season, the next step in a busy year that included an appearance with Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship as well as a trip to the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia with the Raiders.

Joining Leason in D.C. is fellow Raiders forward Aliaksei Protas, the 26th pick from the 2018 CHL Import Draft. Following a modest regular-season output that saw him register 40 points in 61 games, the Belarusian forward found another gear in the postseason as he tallied 22 points in 23 outings, good for fourth in league-wide playoff scoring. The Capitals drafted Protas with the 91st selection.

Meanwhile, near the top of the draft, Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens became the first player from the Yukon to be taken in the opening round when the Buffalo Sabres selected him with the seventh pick.

A native of Whitehorse, Cozens has spent the past two seasons with the Hurricanes, including the 2018-19 campaign in which his 84 points led the team in scoring.

On the blue line, Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram became the first rearguard selected in the 2019 NHL Draft when he was chosen fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche.

Following a 71-point season, Byram continued to draw the attention of talent evaluators with an impressive playoff performance that saw him lead the entire WHL with eight goals and 18 assists in 22 appearances to help guide the Giants to the seventh game of the Ed Chynoweth Cup Final.

In Kelowna, the Rockets were the only CHL franchise to see multiple 2019 first rounders following the selection of Finnish blue-liner Lassi Thomson, who went 19th overall to the Ottawa Senators. Thomson was also the first CHL talent to be chosen by a Canadian club in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Taken 53rd in the 2018 CHL Import Draft, Thomson made his debut with the Rockets last season, scoring 41 points in 63 games.

In the OHL, London Knights forward Connor McMichael joins Leason and Protas with the Capitals following his first-round selection at 25th overall.

McMichael, who registered 72 points in 67 games with the Knights last season, became the eighth first rounder produced by London in the past five years, the longest active streak in the CHL.

In the QMJHL, Chicoutimi Sagueneens defenceman Artemi Kniazev joined the San Jose Sharks following his selection at 48th overall.

The Russian-born blue-liner, chosen with the 10th pick in the 2018 CHL Import Draft, impressed in his first season in North America in 2018-19, notching 34 points in 55 games to finish second in scoring among Sagueneens defencemen.

Finally, also drafted out of the QMJHL was Charlottetown Islanders forward Nikita Alexandrov, who joins the 2019 Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues after being taken with pick No. 62.

Chosen with the 50th pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft, the German-born scorer has spent the past two seasons in Prince Edward Island. After posting 31 points as a rookie in 2017-18, Alexandrov nearly doubled that total last season as he finished with 27 goals and 34 assists across 64 appearances.

More News
5 Questions with Nick Suzuki
8 hours ago
2012 Memorial Cup Memories
10 hours ago
Livestream: 2012 Memorial Cup Championship Final
20 hours ago
CHL Leaders: QMJHL grad Vermette enters exciting new career in real estate
2 days ago
A CHL Awards message from Alexis Lafreniere
2 days ago
Alexis Lafreniere wins CHL Top Draft Prospect of the Year Award presented by Kubota Canada
3 days ago