NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion chose Czech centre Filip Chytil sixth overall in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft on Wednesday. Now it’s a matter of getting him to the Gateway of the North.
“As we’d planned to do, we’ve selected a very talented player and we hope we can get him to come,” said Stan Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Battalion, who takes an all-in approach to securing high-impact players in the Import Draft.
“We don’t want two goals here. We’re going for hat tricks.”
The New York Rangers selected Chytil in the first round, 21st overall, of the National Hockey League Draft last Friday at Chicago. He was ranked 11th among European skaters by the NHL’s central scouting department in advance of the draft.
Chytil, who turns 18 on Sept. 5, scored four goals and earned four assists for eight points in 38 games playing against men last season with PSG Zlin of the Czech Extraliga, regarded as one of Europe’s top four professional leagues.
Chytil, six-foot-two and 192 pounds, played five games with the Czech Republic’s entry in the under-18 world championship, scoring two goals and adding three assists for five points. He played another 14 games with the under-18 squad, producing four goals and as many assists for eight points.
The Kromeriz native, who also plays left wing, would fill out the Battalion’s two-player import quota with Swedish defenceman Adam Thilander, who’s set to return for a second OHL season. The Troops traded German left winger Max Kislinger to the Flint Firebirds on June 20 to make room for Chytil.
“I talked to his agent before the draft,” Butler said of Chytil. “I talked to the New York Rangers yesterday. They told me that if he did come, the league he wanted to come to was the Ontario League, which is positive that way.
“It’s going to be very similar to the Thilander thing last year, or the Evgeny Grachev thing numerous years ago, where there’s going to be a recruiting process. The way I look at is, if we’re successful, we get a first-line centre on our hockey team; if we’re not successful, our team’s no different than it was before the draft today.”
Chytil has impressed Gordie Clark, director of player personnel for the Rangers, who made the Czech their second pick of the NHL draft.
“He stepped in from junior and played for Zlin in the men’s league,” Clark told NHL.com. “As the season went on, he ended up being a guy they were using all the time.
“He grew two inches on us during the season, and I don’t think he’s going to stop. He’s going to be a really good-skating centre, a playmaker.”
The 60 teams of the CHL, which includes the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League, draft in inverse order of each league’s regular-season standing, with non-playoff teams taking precedence. The order of selection among the three leagues changes from year to year.
North Bay held the seventh pick, but the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix passed in the fifth spot. The Barrie Colts took Russian right winger Andrei Svechnikov with the No. 1 selection after he played last season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League.
Seventy-two players from 10 countries were taken in the two-round process conducted over the Internet. The Battalion passed on its second pick.