The Brandon Wheat Kings selected two players during Thursday’s Canadian Hockey League’s annual Import Draft.
With their first selection (22nd overall), the Wheat Kings chose 18-year old Finnish forward Marcus Kallionkieli and in round two, they opted for Russian left-winger Vladislav Firstov (82nd overall).
A 6’2” 195 lb. Helsinki product, Kallionkieli was a fifth round selection (139th overall) of the Vegas Golden Knights in last Saturday’s National Hockey League Draft.
A member of the USHL’s Sioux City Muskateers this past season, Marcus scored 29 goals and 83 points in 58 games and was named to the USHL’s All Rookie All Star Team.
During the 2017-18 season, he scored thirteen goals and 22 points in 29 games for SM-sarja in Helsinki.
“Marcus is a really talented player,” says Wheat Kings Director of Scouting Darren Ritchie. “He’s a big body, skates well and has a heavy shot. He’s a drafted NHL player and we’re hopeful that we can get him to Brandon this season.”
Firstov meanwhile was chosen by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of Saturday’s NHL draft in Vancouver and after scoring 26 goals and 58 points for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL last season, the 6’1” 181 lb Russian has committed to play in the NCAA in 2019-20.
“He’s an offensively gifted player,” says Ritchie. “He plays with good jump to his game and is a hard working power forward.”
“Because he’s committed to the University of Connecticut, there is some work to be done on getting him here,” he added.
The Wheat Kings were able to select two players in Thursday’s draft as netminder Jiri Patera, who is expected to return for his second season with the WHL club, is a 20-year old overage player.
CHL clubs are permitted to carry a maximum of two imports.
A sixth round draft choice of the Golden Knights, Patera became the first ever European goalkeeper to be chosen and to play for the Wheat Kings.
In 48 games during the 2018-19 campaign, Patera compiled a 3.31 goals against average and a .906 save percentage for the Wheat Kings, who finished fourth in the Eastern Division with a record of 31-29-4-4.
The two round draft took place online with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three leagues using an inverse order of final regular season standings during the 2018-19 campaign.
Kallionkieli becomes the third Finnish born player to be selected by the Wheat Kings in the CHL Import Draft, since it was established in 1993. He joins Toni Rajala and Sami Sandel, who were chosen in the first rounds of the 2009 and 2004 drafts respectively.
Six Russians have been chosen by the Wheat Kings over the years but only two have played in Brandon. Ivan Provorov was chosen 30th overall in 2014 while Andrei Lupandin was selected with the 28th pick in 1995. While Lupandin was a member of the 1996 WHL Championship Team, Provorov was instrumental in leading the Wheat Kings to the 2016 Title.
Thursday’s CHL Import Draft caps off a busy week for the Whet Kings, who unveiled their 2019-20 regular season schedule on Wednesday.
The Wheat Kings will kick off the regular season with a home and home series with the Winnipeg ICE, beginning Friday, September 20th at Westoba Place.