Troops take Has, Korpialho

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The Ontario Hockey League’s North Bay Battalion added Czech defenceman Martin Hugo Has and left winger Niki Korpialho of Finland in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft on Thursday.

Has, a right-shot rearguard who stands six-foot-four and weighs 192 pounds, was the 22nd selection in the first round of the two-round process conducted over the Internet.

In 2018-19, he played a second consecutive season in Finland, primarily with the Tappara Tampere under-20 juniors of the Finnish Elite League, scoring nine goals and earning seven assists for 16 points with 38 penalty minutes in 37 games.

Korpialho, taken 66th overall, played last season for the TPS Turku under-18 junior Bs of the Finnish Championship Series, with whom he scored 12 goals and added 11 assists for 23 points in 41 games while drawing 39 PiM.

Has, an 18-year-old native of Prague, produced one goal and one assist for two points in five games with the Czech entry in the world under-18 championship. He also played in the tournament a year earlier, earning two assists in six games, and skated for the Czech Republic last year in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup tourney, scoring one goal and adding two assists for three points in four games.

The Washington Capitals chose Has last Saturday in the fifth round, 153rd overall, of the National Hockey League Draft at Vancouver, where he answered questions in English.

“In Finland, everyone speaks great English, so the guys helped a lot,” said Has, who noted that his mother taught English in elementary schools.

“I think I’m a two-way defenceman. I like to join the rush.”

Korpialho, a six-foot-two, 170-pound native of Aura who turned 17 on Feb. 15, totaled 17 games last season with the Finnish under-17 team, scoring three goals.

He has been described as “mobile with good footwork and agility” and possessing “the speed to pull away from opponents.”

The CHL Import Draft incorporates the 60 clubs in the OHL, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Teams draft in inverse order of the overall standings from the previous season, rotating the leagues’ order. The WHL’s Swift Current Broncos took Finnish defenceman Kasper Puutio with the No. 1 pick before the Kingston Frontenacs made Slovakian right winger Martin Chromiak the second selection.

North Bay held the 23rd pick in the first round and the 83rd overall in the second but, with some clubs already having their two-man import quota at least partly filled, some passed. The QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres, at No. 21, passed before Has was drafted.

The Battalion had two imports in the lineup at the end of last season, in Austrian defenceman David Maier and Czech rearguard Zack Malik, but neither will return. Maier, a second-round choice in the CHL Import Draft last year, was taken 28th overall Thursday by the Peterborough Petes.

Malik was acquired in a Jan. 8 trade with the Sudbury Wolves, who took him in the first round in 2017. North Bay’s first-rounder last year, Russian left winger Egor Postnov, was released in November.

A total of 81 selections were made Thursday, numbering 48 forwards, 27 defencemen and six goaltenders, with 14 nationalities represented. The Czech Republic had 17 chosen, Russia 14 and Finland 10. Others countries producing picks were Slovakia with seven, Switzerland with six, Sweden and Germany five each, Belarus and Latvia four apiece, Austria and Denmark three each and Japan, Norway and Belgium each with one.

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