Kingston Frontenacs general manager Doug Gilmour departs today for the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh on a mission.
Gilmour will be talking with player agents, discussions geared toward giving Kingston a clear picture for who will be available come Wednesday's Canadian Hockey League import draft.
“We have already done a lot of our homework but this is a chance to talk to players and their agents," Gilmour said.
“The kids we've been looking at, most of them are in the NHL draft and a lot of them are going to be taken."
Gilmour, coach Todd Gill and assistant GM/coach Darren Keily met Wednesday to discuss players the Frontenacs are interested in. Gill and Keily gained some inside knowledge when both were in Europe for the world under-18 championship in the Czech Republic in April.
Kingston has the sixth overall selection in the 60-team import draft and has a second-round pick, too, 66th overall.
The Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League followed by the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League are selecting first and second. Erie Otters, are the first to select among the OHL teams, and have the third pick.
Gilmour has indicated the Frontenacs may well select two players.
The OHL allows teams to carry a maximum of two import players and Kingston has room for two.
Goaltender Igor Bobkov, who used up both an import and overage roster spot last season, has graduated to professional hockey in the Anaheim Ducks system. After a 12-goal season, forward Petr Beranek has been waived.
The Frontenacs, with no heir apparent in goal, had been expected to use the import draft to find a goaltender. Gilmour now says a goaltender will not be the team’s first choice.
He hedged that, however, by saying things could change once he talks with fellow OHL general managers in Pittsburgh.
“We will go for what we need, whether that is a forward or a defenceman,” Gilmour said. “We are not looking at a goalie unless there is a change.’
Among the high-end European juniors in the NHL draft are Sweden's Filip Forsberg, Pontus Allberg and Sebastian Collberg, all forwards. Tomas Hertl of Slovakia and Teuvo Teravainen of Finland are also highly regarded prospects.
The most talked about defencemen are Hampus Lindholm of Sweden and Ville Pokka of Finland. The higher ranked goaltenders are Russia's
Andrei Vasilevski, Oscar Dansk of Sweden and Jovnas Korpisalo of
Gilmour said the networking at the NHL draft is important in determining who will actually be available when Kingston's draft turn comes up.
“You get a good feeling speaking to the agents on who is interested in their players,” Gilmour said.
“Where we are (drafting) we should be able to get the player we want.”
As for Kingston's goaltending picture, Gilmour said he has some options which include two free agents who will be coming to the Frontenacs training camp.
Colin Furlong, who was with the junior B Guelph Hurricanes last season and Paulo Batista from the Windsor area are the undrafted invites.
A product of the Dave Franco goaltending program, Batista, at 6-foot-four and 210 pounds, was in the sights of several other OHL teams, Gilmour said.
The Frontenacs also have Craig Wood and Blake Richard in their
system and two 16-year-olds, Joel Howard of Ottawa and Mark Sinclair of Hamilton, from the April draft.
Jacob Riley, who was acquired in the second half of last season to back up Bobkov, will not be back. He has also been dropped from the Frontenacs’ 50-player roster.