Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rockets need an impact forward from Europe

The Buffalo Sabres hold the key in deciding where 18 year-old forward Zemgus Girgensons plays this season. Will he play with the Kelowna Rockets, the team that holds his CHL rights, or will he indeed play at the University of Vermont? The Rockets used their first round pick in the 2011 CHL Import Draft to take Girgensons, who this past weekend was selected in the first round of the NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres have ultimate control of where their coveted prospect plays. Is he better served by developing his game in major junior or will he go the college route, something many United States Hockey players choose?
If the Rockets can land the Latvian born Girgensons, he would become the first impact forward to join the team since the Calgary Flames sent Mikael Backlund to the WHL in 2009 after, the then 19 year-old, participated at the World Junior Hockey Championships. But, Backlund was with the Rockets for a short period of time, not an entire season, in helping them win a Western Hockey League title.
Not since Alex Edler of the Vancouver Canucks, have the Rockets had an explosive 'regular' import player on their roster. In fact, the last European 'regular' forwards to strike fear in opposing goalies while wearing Rockets colours were Tomas Oravec and Jan Fadrny. The two were teammates in 2000 when Fadrny, acquired from Brandon, played in 56 games and registered 77 points. Oravec was 5th in team scoring with 65 points in 65 regular season games that year.        
The Rockets are due to cash in on a significant 'regular' forward from 'over the pond'. Let's hope the 2011 CHL Draft and the selection of Zemgus Girgensons accomplishes that goal.      


Alan said...

"The Sabres have ultimate control of where their coveted prospect plays."

I have to point out that the Sabres don't actually have any control at all over where Girgensons plays. Until he signs a contract with them, he's free to make his own decisions about where to play. The Sabres can offer him their opinion but he is not obligated to listen to them the way he would be if he were under contract.

And of course, if he signs a contract with them, the NCAA option is gone anyway.

Regan Bartel said...

Thanks for clarifying that Alan. I posted under the premise that he was indeed signed with the Sabres having control. But as you correctly explained, he is unsigned as of today so can do whatever he feels is best for him.

Regan Bartel said...

Because he played in the USHL, not the CHL, he can play in the American Hockey League this season.