Just three days after he’s joined the organization, even more intrigue has formed around Oliver Kylington after the Canadian Hockey League’s Import Draft. The Calgary Flames 60th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has, coincidentally, been chosen by the Brandon Wheat Kings with the 60th overall selection in the 2015 CHL Import Draft.
Some context after the jump!
First, Kylington’s selection comes just a day after Farjestads BK president of hockey operations (and Flames alumnus) Hakan Loob chatted with our pal Pat Steinberg on Sportsnet 960 The Fan, and recommended that the Flames ink Kylington to a deal and bring him over to North America swiftly. (Click that link and listen, it’s a great chat.) Loob had Kylington in Farjestads and knows a lot about him.
Second, my understanding is that every player of a certain age in an IIHF-affiliated league is eligible to be chosen, so it’s not like Kylington threw his hat in the ring in an effort to escape Europe. But teams also don’t take picks unless they think they might need them, and Calgary and the Wheat Kings have a lengthy relationship (and hockey is a small, small world). Heck, Morgan Klimchuk was there last season and Kelly McCrimmon has a great reputation as a developer of players, and it’s not like they don’t have a history or a certain level of trust.
Every CHL team gets two import slots. Brandon’s imports last season were recent Flyers pick Ivan Provorov and forward Rihards Bukarts. Of note is that Bukarts is a 1995 birthday, meaning next season he’ll take up both Brandon’s import and overage spots next season, if he’s around. Most likely, from the Brandon side, it’s the Wheat Kings hedging their bets a bit; either (or both) of Provorov or Bukarts could go pro, so they likely want to have another import waiting in the wings. Or, like what happened when the Hitmen wanted to open up an import slot for Pavel Karnaukhov last season, one of those two players could be traded to a different team.
In terms of whether Kylington could go to the American Hockey League directly, the answer is yes. He wasn’t chosen from a Canadian Hockey League team, nor was he already chosen by a CHL team in last year’s import draft, so he’s not subject to the CHL transfer agreement. If he signs a pro deal, he could come over and play in Stockton (or ECHL Adirondack). In terms of development, I’m not sure what would be better for him: challenging him with tough competition in the AHL for a year, or giving him a season in the WHL to get used to the smaller ice and potentially dominate because he’s used to playing against grown men by now.
I’m reasonably sure we haven’t heard the last of this story. As of right now, there’s a possibility that Kylington could be with Stockton, Brandon or AIK next season.