Two solid picks by the Kelowna Rockets in today's CHL Euro draft. The Rockets picked 18 year-old forward Milan Kytnar from Slovakia. Kyntar is a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers. With the second pick the team selected forward Mikael Backlund of Sweden. Backlund was a first round pick this weekend of the Calgary Flames.
Here is the conversation I had with Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton:
"He (Kyntar) was the guy I wanted all along. When I went over there, he was a guy that I saw and liked from day one. I watched him every day that the Slovaks played, and wanted to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing. I talked to him today, and he's really excited. He speaks pretty good English and he's excited about coming here. He has been on the Internet all day looking at Kelowna, and has an idea of where it is. As a player he's a really competitive guy, and I think he fits into the mold of the type of player that we like to have".
Is it a nice fit that he's an Oilers draft pick, and you have a strong relationship with that organization?
"I think they are happy. They know where he is going to play and what kind of atmosphere he will play in, and when we get our coaching staff in place, they know we are going to have a good coach here, and he'll be pointed in the right direction."
How about your second pick Bruce. A first round pick of the Calgary Flames!
"It's a flyer. Alot of guys know that he has a contract, and I think his intent would be to play in Sweden, but if the Flames sign him prior to July 15th, then certainly this is a good option for the Flames to put him in, by sending him to Kelowna. Knowing Darryl (Sutter), I know he wants him to have some North American culture before he's ready to play for their organization, so whether he's here this year or next year, that's why we took the chance on this. I have given up our first round pick in next year's draft to get this pick, so it makes sense if he is here next year. Is it a risk? You bet it's a risk, but if you want to live on that side of it, the player we would have got would have been a 1990 born player, and we are going to have six of those now, and I just don't think we are going to get somebody better than that group of kids we already have".