A trio of talents headlined the 2020 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft and are already excited to get started.
And based on the nature of the order of selection rotating across each of the three leagues, the trio represent top picks across the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League, and could be impactful additions to teams who need it most.
With the first overall selection, the OHL’s North Bay Battalion called on 17-year-old Russian right-wing Matvei Petrov, a 2021 NHL Draft eligible who spent 2019-20 with Krylya Sovetov Moscow of the MHL, Russia’s top junior league, in which he tallied nine points counting five goals and four assists through 21 appearances.
“I feel honoured and privileged to be selected by North Bay,” Petrov told the Canadian Hockey League. “I would like to thank my family for all of the support they have given me over the years.”
In joining the Battalion, Petrov will share the spotlight with another first overall selection in Ty Nelson, a budding blue-liner who the club called with the top choice in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection. He’ll also join fellow countryman Matvey Guskov, a Minnesota Wild prospect who the Battalion recently acquired from the London Knights.
“Our entire staff was very comfortable with (Petrov). We had a couple of conversations with him,” added Battalion general manager Adam Dennis. “We felt very comfortable making the selection and we think he is going to add a lot to our program.”
Shifting east, the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan held the second overall pick and used it to select goaltender Jan Bednar, a Czech native who ranks second among European netminders per NHL Central Scouting ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft.
The hulking goaltender who stands 6-foot-4 split the 2019-20 campaign in the Czech circuit including 24 appearances with Banik Sokolov in which he collected eight victories alongside a 3.26 goals-against average and .873 save percentage.
The 17-year-old is excited to head to New Brunswick and adapt his playing style to North America.
“I’m very happy to be part of this great organization. It’s a great league with many fantastic players and it’s a good opportunity for me too,” Bednar said. “It’s a good step for my way to the NHL … small rink, more shots, and many hard situations for goalies.”
The Titan are enthused by Bednar’s potential to improve the club’s play between the pipes and its defensive capabilities for the coming campaign.
“Jan is a big piece of the puzzle for us and we feel he will be one of the better goaltenders in the league,” said Titan general manager Sylvain Couturier.
Rounding out the top-three selections, the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos looked to improve their back end in adding right-shot blue-liner Oliver Fatul.
Tabbed for the 2020 NHL Draft – Fatul ranks 70th among European skaters – the 17-year-old Slovakian shared time with a handful of clubs last season, with the majority of his playing time coming with HKM Zvolen of the top Slovakian league.
A self-described two-way defender, Fatul picked up a pair of assists through 29 appearances with his primary club. He also found the back of the net in a four-game showing with Slovakia at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
“I think this is the best way for me to develop myself as a player and as a person,” Fatul said of coming to the CHL. “I am really thankful for this opportunity. I can’t wait for things to get started with the Broncos.”
Fatul’s addition comes on the heels of last summer’s selection that saw the club nab Finnish blue-liner Kasper Puutio first overall before he was later moved to the Everett Silvertips for four pieces including 19-year-old defenceman Parker Hendren who will share the blue line with Fatul in Saskatchewan next season.
“Oliver is going to be a well-rounded guy,” added Broncos head coach and director of hockey operations Dean Brockman. “(He and 63rd overall selection Vladislav Demidovich) both skate well and certainly they will be huge assets towards the Broncos.”
In all, 66 players were selected in the 2020 CHL Import Draft, representing 11 different countries and consisting of 38 forwards, 22 defensemen, and six goaltenders.