The Sudbury Wolves took a major step forward in replacing their graduating forwards by announcing the selection of two new European players at the CHL Import Draft, held June 29.
For their first selection, 47th overall, the Wolves chose Russian forward Andrey Kuchin, 19. The 5-10, 185-pound centre/right-winger led the Chicago Steel of the USHL in scoring this season with 54 points in 53 games. It was Kuchin’s first taste of North American hockey action. Wolves’ President/GM Blaine Smith watched Kuchin perform earlier in the year and interviewed the star forward in Chicago.
“Andrey is one of the most skilled forwards in the CHL Import draft,” Smith stated in a press release. “He is one of the most gifted playmakers that I have seen. He can play centre or the wing. It really doesn’t matter because he sees the ice so well and makes jaw-dropping plays with the puck.”
With their second selection, the Wolves drafted a big, strong power forward in Markus Poeck, 74th overall. The 18-year-old played for Austria in the World Junior Tournament in Saskatchewan in December and was rated as one of the best 1992-born forwards in the tournament.
“We were very pleased to land Poeck so late in the draft,” Smith said. “He is the younger brother of former NHL defenceman Thomas Poeck. He is physically ready to step in and play in the OHL level next season.”
One NHL scout suggested Poeck has the ability to play on the Wolves’ top line as he is a good playmaker with good instincts. Poeck played for Klagenfurt of the Austrian Elite League last season. He was the only Austrian-born player selected in the 2010 CHL Import Draft. Poeck was rated in the top 100 European Skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
Smith said the challenge now is to recruit the new players to play in Sudbury next season. “European players have lots of options, and the good ones, like Kuchin and Poeck, have the ability to play in European professional leagues. We have to do our best to educate them and their agents on the benefits of playing in the OHL and the important role they can play on our team here in Sudbury.”