Norsemen Add 9 in 2012 SICHL Draftby Matt MacInnis | October 26, 2012, 7:21 PM ET
The Vancouver Island Norsemen had accumulated nine picks in the SICHL Entry Draft, including four picks in the first 54 selections of the draft. Ultimately the walked away with 4 forwards, 3 goalies and 2 defencemen.
The team used the 11th overall selection to take highly-touted Swedish blueliner Hampus Lindholm. Standing in at 6’3 and nearly 200 lbs already, the smooth-skating Lindholm is a well-rounded package who is strong in all facets of the game. His maturity has already been on display this season as he’s taken the exceptionally unusual step of transitioning to North American professional hockey as an 18 year old. Lindholm isn’t likely to be a Bobby Orr candidate, but he has strong potential to be a solid SICHL top pairing defenceman to anchor a blueline.
“This was a really weird draft,” acknowledged MacInnis. “ We didn’t really think Hampus would be available to us at 11. I’m not saying he’s a great steal or anything like that, I really just didn’t consider him a kid we would likely be able to choose when we came up. I like what I’ve seen from him. And I love that he’s playing in North America right now. That takes some guts. We’re hoping it does good things for his development, but we’ll see what happens with him over time.”
With their first second round selection, the franchise opted to select Czech Republic right winger and Halifax Moosehead Martin Frk. He’s a pure goal scorer with good hands and finishing who is struggling at the start of the current junior season. Unquestionably a high-risk selection, particularly coming off an injury-shortened season, Frk could be a second liner for the Norsemen if he’s able to put it together. However, the Norsemen have had dismal luck with scoring forwards from the former Czechoslovakia, and don’t think that wasn’t weighing on their minds on draft day.
The Norsemen reached back into the depth of Swedish prospects with the 52nd overall pick, choosing Ludwig Bystrom. Much like Lindholm, he does everything reasonably well, although Bystrom has significant physical maturing to do. He’s not particularly small, but he seems to lack strength, something the team’s officials are confident can be corrected over time. He spent part of last season playing for the SEL’s Modo and is once again back with them for the current campaign.
Up next with the 54th pick was big Russian-born CHLer Daniil Zharkov. Standing in at 6’4 and over 200 lbs he’s built well and has great finishing ability. He undeniably needs to improve his speed, but he buries his opportunities when he can and if he’s able to round out his offensive game he will be a significant talent for the franchise.
The team used the 67th overall pick on Brian Hart, a fast-skating, in-your-face American prospect who is going to need some time to develop into a pro. He spent the past two years enjoying playing against smaller prep school opponents but will find himself in a new world at Harvard this winter. He’s a goal scorer and he has all the raw tools you want, but don’t expect to see him in a Norsemen uniform for quite some time. Fortunately the club has a scout stationed at Yale who will be keeping a close eye on Hart’s development at his rival.
In the 4th round, the franchise did something it hadn’t done since 2009 – drafted a goaltender. The latest keeper to join the club is 6’4 beanpole Matt Murray who plays with the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. He played platoon duty last season, showcasing his strong mental game and big-save ability. This season he’s the clear cut starter and may appear in as many as 60 games at this pace. He needs to get a little bigger, but the club was very pleased to land him in the 4th round.
“We went into this draft hoping to get one of Murray or Korpisalo. To get both is hopefully a good thing, although let’s be honest, drafting goalies is a lot like shooting craps. It’s fun, but who the hell knows what is going to happen. We love his hockey bloodlines, we love his athleticism, we love what his goalie coach says comparing him to Rinne and others. I was hoping he’d come to Prince George this season, but I understand and respect his decision to stay in Finland for at least two more seasons.
“With Kiviaho, it’s a pure throw at the dart board in the dark. We’ve heard some rumblings about him putting up truly spectacular games and decided to see what he turned into. We feel we’ve already nabbed two of the top keepers in this draft already, plus we have that Jonathan Quick fellow starting for us right now. Who knows. I guess I should have picked up another winger, but sometimes you need to have fun at SICHL Christmas.
“Payne’s a really interesting kid. I think he was buried a bit early in his junior career on the lower lines because he’s pretty well-sized and he’s willing to chuck knucks. But now that he’s getting a chance to play with some skilled guys he’s putting up pretty good numbers from what the scouting department tells me. Maybe we got lucky. He’s certain en feugo with Plymouth right now.”