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Rockies Build Prospect Pool at 2017 SICHL Summit

by Ed Whalen | September 9, 2017, 3:25 AM ET

Saturday morning came early for Banff Rockies GM Ian Constable. Last minute tweaks to his own draft board until the wee hours of Friday night and the excitement of his first ever Entry draft had left him with only an hour and a half of sleep, but he wasn't tired in the least. "I woke up at 5:30 that morning and didn't even think about going back to sleep, I was immediately checking the phone and computer for updates" reminisced Constable. The previous night had seen him deal away the second overall pick in the 2017 entry draft and Banff's 5th round pick in 2017 to the London Monarchs for 3 first rounders, including the #12 overall pick in the 2017 draft. But this news had not been anounced to the league yet and was going to be done at the draft.

As Constable walked into the Great Auditorum of Grant MacEwan with his draft sheets and SICHL Summit package, he saw countless GMs hunched over their own draft sheets, some with eyes glued to laptops, scanning for that last detail about players and a few sidebars with GMs in hushed conversation. Constable also saw the iconic Banff Rockies emblam perched on the top row. "A perfect place for me to watch the drama unfold." Mused Constable. Constable hadn't quite reached his seat when GMs started asking who he was taking at that #2 spot. Constable tried to play it as coy as possible, however their were a couple of knowing nods. 

When SICHL Commisioner Mark MacRae walked up to the podium, the capacity crowd let him know what they thought of him as a corus of boos echoed through the room and out into the halls. The first pick went as expected as the Kansas City Krunch selected Nico Hischier first overall. This time when the commisioner walked up to the podium, the boos turned to gasps and cheers as he said those famous 6 words "I have a trade to announce!" London Monarchs GM Micheal Oram strode up to the podium and selected Nolan Patrick with the former Banff Rockies pick. Constable knew he was going to have to make something out of that #12 draft pick now.

Constable was in discussions with multiple GMs over that #12 pick, some to move up, some to move down. Constable admitted, "I didn't think the couple of players we really wanted would be there with how we thought the draft would go, so we were in disussions with a couple of GMs about moving into the top 7, but Edmonton Supersonics GM Mike Franceschini wanted Cale Makar who was still there at that pick and there ended up being no deal to be had." Constable had also been in discussions with Acadia Golden Bears GM Guy Flaming about the #9 pick, but when Brno Barons GM Bob MayHugh quickly grabbed Casey Middlestad with the 8th pick, GM Constable felt the price was too dear now for #9. "Honeslty, I didn't think we were going to get our guy, but we were willing to wait because we were happy with two others giving us a guarantee at someone we liked at 12. As well, we felt the price was just too high to move up with what we could still come away with." Constable was ecstatic when the #12 pick came around and Nick Suzuki was still there. Immediately there were 3 GM's lining up to talk to him when the pick came around. "If he hadn't been there I probably would have dealt that pick, because there were some good offers on the table, however, if he hadn't been there, I doubt there would have been so much interest in that pick"

The Banff Rockies GM nervously walked towards the podium until he heard the familiar mountain music and yodling of his home in the Canadian Rockies. He then seemed to have a spring in his step as he leaned into the microphone and announced "The Banff Rockies are proud to select with their first ever SICHL draft pick, from the Owen Sound Attack, Nick Suzuki!" a combination of applause, cheers and groans fell across the auditorium and Constable was quickly pulled aside by GM Henry Skey of the Hamburg Gladiators for an impromptu interview. "I can't remember what I said at all, it was just going so fast at that point and I was overwhelmed to say the least. I will say now that we really like the pace that Nick can think the game at. He blends speed and creativity with an uptempo game. He doesn't take a shift off and takes care of his own end of the ice. He was able to put up 96 points (45 of them being goals) in just 65 games in the OHL while playing the entire year at only 17 years of age. All of this and boasting a +51 rating. We believe he will make the Canadian World Junior team this year and are not looking to rush him at all into our lineup. We had him ranked much higher and were thrilled to get him at 12." 

Banff still had another pick in the first round thanks to it being part of a trade with GM Gary Graves of the Boston Colonials for young star forward David Pastrnak. With the #20 overall pick in the draft Banff selected hulking winger Klim Kostin from Dynamo Moskva. Kostin fell on draft boards this year after playing against men in the KHL and being used very sparingly. "Playing against men at the age of 17 as a powerforward and only getting minimal ice time is very tough and he struggled. However, when he played against the best of his age group at the Ivan Hlinka tournament this year he dominated with 4 goals and 7 points in only 5 games." The Captain of the Russian team also showed his gritty side at the tournament picking up 29 minutes in penalties in those games. "This kid can beat you with his stickhandling or simply carry you on his back to the net with his powerful stride. We look forward to getting him over here and playing with us in the very near future."

In the second round, Banff selected defenceman Pierre-Olivier Joseph from the Charlottetown Islanders with the 32nd overall pick. Joseph is still growing and filling out. He is a couple years away, but excels in the transition game and makes quick decisions with the puck. He can skate the puck out of danger or make an excellent first pass. 

In the thrid round, Banff selected twice. At #60 overall Banff selected center Antoine Morand of the Acadie -Bathurst Titan. Known more for his passing and stickhandling than his shooting, Morand is a very smart playmaker that can make plays at high speeds. "If you give this guy room, he'll make you pay." said one scout. He's slight at 5'10" and 170 pounds. He can get knocked off the puck, so he needs to add some size still. Morand was more than a point a game player in both his 2 seasons in the QMJHL. 

With their second pick in the third round, #67 overall, Banff selected right winger Ivan Lodnia from the Erie Otters of the OHL. Ivan played on a stacked Erie team and therefore didn't get top minutes and in fact was used only sparingly in the playoffs. However, he did score a key goal in the Memorial Cup. He also chipped in 3 goals in 4 games for USA at the Hlinka tournament. He has shown great versatility and can play anywhere in the lineup. Said Constable, "We are really looking forward to see his development this year where he should see top line minutes. He's a good skater who can change directions very quickly. we're excited."

In the forth round, #88 overall Banff selected center Adam Ruzicka of the Sarnia Sting. The big Slovakian native took some time getting adjusted when he came over to the OHL this year. Early on in the year he was invisible at times. When he found his game in the second half, he showed off his excellent puck control skills. The Rockies seem happy to let the 6'4" 209 lb powerforward develop for a couple more years.

The Rockies picked twice in the 6th round. They used the 141st overall pick to select defenceman David Noel. This offensive defenceman picked up his game scoring 8 goals and 18 points in 29 games after being acquired by the Val-d'Or Foreurs of the QMJHL and then added 8 points in 10 playoff games. All of this in his rookie season in the Q. At 6'1 and 172 lbs, he will need to fill out, so Banff plans to let him grow and develop in Junior for the foreseeable future.

The Rockies second pick of the 6th round, #144 overall saw them select center Igor Shvyrovfrom Metallurg Mognitogorsk. While almost every other player Banff selected in this draft were among the youngest in the draft, the 6'0" 201 lb Shvyrov played last year as an 18 year old in the KHL where he scored 0 points in 10 games and the MHL (Russia's junior league) where he scored 70 points in only 40 games. Constable spoke about the Russian "It takes some players longer to develop. Igor is going to get more ice time with Metallurg in the KHL this year and we hope to see some of that talent shine through. He is a very good playmaker. We would like to see him shoot a little more." Time will tell with Igor, some players become tweeners, excellent at a lower level, just not able to bring it at the next level. However, having just turned 19 it's a little too early to make that distinction with Shvyrov.

Constable spoke about the Rockies future, "We really like the group that we brought in today. We believe that we have a real blue chipper in Suzuki and were swinging for the fences with a guy like Kostin. Having selected Nick already, we felt very comfortable taking a calculated risk like that. We believe in Klim, he just needs to go and prove us right now. We think guys like Joseph, Morand, Lodnia and Ruzicka will need a little extra time. and if one of Noel or Shvyrov can make it, then we've hit a home run out of the 6th." 

An exhausted crew of GMs made their way south to GM Fanceschini's for a wind up BBQ that was the perfect capoff to an incredible 2017 SICHL Summit. Before GM Constable drove off with half shut eyes he said "I'd just like to thank GM Franceschini for putting this amazing event together. This is truly the gratest league in the world and this weekend  was the perfect way for a new GM like myself to get to know the veteran GMs of the league. What a class act group. Thanks also to Commisioner MacRae for all of his hard work and dedication to the league that goes on behind the scenes. Now get that purple spotted dinosaur out of the middle of the road, I've got to get home to bed."


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