With two spots open for European players heading into the 2021-22 Ontario Hockey League season, the Soo Greyhounds feel like they’re in a good position to fill those spots with quality players following Wednesday’s Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.
Having decided to relinquish the rights to goaltender Nick Malik earlier this week and Jaromir Pytlik on its protected list as an overage import, the Greyhounds selected Russian defenceman Kirill Kudryavtsev and German winger Julian Lutz.
Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis spoke highly of both players and feels the pair add high-end skills to the roster,
With the sixth overall pick, the Greyhounds went with the left-shot Kudryavtsev, who spent last season with Yaroslavl in Russia’s top junior league.
“He’s an explosive skater,” Raftis said. “He’s got a bomb of a shot. He’s got great instincts on the ice. He’s a guy that was the power play quarterback of their youth Olympic team. I think he’s the best Russian defenceman of the ’04 age group. He’s somebody that we’re really excited to add. When you have a high pick, you want to bring in someone who is going to have an impact and hopefully somebody that’s going to be with us for a couple of years. It’s somebody that everybody is going to be really excited to watch develop with us over the next couple of years.”
Leading up to their second pick, Raftis said some things changed “when some things went a little different in front of us.”
“We decided that if we’re going to take a player, it wasn’t just going to be a player that was going to be just okay,” Raftis said. “We’ve got a lot of good young players coming in so we want guys that are going to come in and really have an impact.”
That led to the team selecting the German-born Lutz, who is under contract in Germany’s pro league.
Raftis said the situation doesn’t mean Lutz won’t consider joining the Greyhounds.
“One of the players at a different position went early on so we had some good conversations with Lutz’s representative,” Raftis said. “He’s under contract next year in the DEL, but they’re open to (joining the Greyhounds).”
“If Julian comes over, that’s two high-end ’04 players to add to the nucleus that’s already coming back,” Raftis said, adding that he expects Kudryavtsev to be in training camp in the fall.
Raftis called Lutz “a big forward that skates well.”
“He’s hard on pucks and he’s got a good skill level as well,” Raftis added.