The Canadian hockey league held their annual import draft just a few days ago and the Sarnia Sting held the first overall pick. With that pick, the stand chose 17 year-old centre Pavel Zacha from Czech Republic. However, shortly after he was taken by the Sting, word surfaced that Zacha might not make the trip over to North America, opting instead to remain where he currently plays.
The 17 year-old had a decent season in the Czech mens elite league registering four goals and four assists in 38 games for Liberec and when the Czech Republic took home silver at the U-18 World’s Zacha had three goals and two assists in seven games. After the draft his agent, Allan Walsh tweeted out the following; “Sarnia just wasted the #1 overall pick in the CHL Import Draft on a player who’s not coming and has a professional contract. #RookieGM.” The tweet immediately raised red flags and has led many to believe the Sting will not see Pavel Zacha next season as he instead waits to be drafted by the NHL in 2015.
Zacha comes in at six-foot-two, 200-pounds and has a lot of untapped potential which the Sting are hoping to tap into. A solid year with the Sarnia Sting in the OHL might raise his stock before the draft, however, the Sting did not have a good season at all last year and that might be scaring Zacha away from coming over. Why play for a last place team and hurt your stock if you can play against older men and raise your stock? His agent also went on to say that Pavel Zacha is already signed for two more years to a professional contract in the Czech and has no interest in playing in North America at this point.
The Sting do have a good track record with import players having Nail Yakupov and now Nikolay Goldobin drafted in the first round of the NHL draft, add to that the success of Alex Galchenyuk and the Sting seem like a great team for any import to lace-up for. The Sting responded to Walsh’s comments stating that with any pick in the import draft there is risk of them not reporting and that they needed to take this calculated risk on the best player available. The Quebec Remparts, who held the second overall pick in the import draft, where also sweet on Pavel Zacha which may have forced the Sting’s hand.
Whether Pavel Zacha decides to report to the Sarnia Sting remains unknown, but right now the Sting don’t appear to be worried about their pick. One thing is for sure, we will hear a lot about the Czech forward in the next year as he prepares for the 2015 NHL draft. Will his refusing to report hurt or affect his stock at all?