The Prince Albert Raiders’ ninth overall selection in this spring’s Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft will not be joining the team.
German forward Dominik Bokk has elected to play with the Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish J20 SuperElit League this season rather than joining the Raiders, according to General Manager Curtis Hunt. At the time of the pick, Hunt stated Bokk is considered to be the best player to come out of the country since Raider alumnus and current Edmonton Oiler star Leon Draisaitl.
“We were able to develop some relationships with the family and [Bokk], and in the end we felt that they were very appreciative of being drafted,” Hunt said. “We got the impression that they were honoured to be drafted and selected by the Prince Albert Raiders. In the end, I think they made a decision to stay a little closer to home, and that’s how we left it.”
Hunt added there is an inherent risk associated with the annual CHL Import Draft, as teams never know for sure if any given player will be willing to come to them until after they are drafted. Although there was interest from Bokk, his agent, and his family in coming to Canada, the decision was ultimately made that the Raiders and the WHL were not his preference.
Despite the disappointing news, Hunt said he likes what the team did in trying to recruit Bokk to Prince Albert. Draisaitl was a part of the recruiting effort, sharing his positive experiences with the Raiders, as was alumnus Ryan Button who has spent the last three years playing in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany. Hunt said he saw this before with high profile players such as Martin Hanzal and Anze Kopitar choosing not to join the Regina Pats in his time there.
“We stand by the pick because you’re not going to get better if you’re not taking the highest quality of player in any given time. Having said that, it gives a North American kid a great opportunity,” he said.
At this point, the Raiders have no plans to fill the import slot that was originally vacated by last year’s leading scorer Simon Stransky, who elected to play this upcoming season in the Czech Republic. However, the open spot will give the team flexibility in the event that a quality import player becomes available down the road.
On Twitter: @nedderrovert
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