67's captain ships out

BARRE CAMPBELL, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:26 PM ET

The Ottawa 67's said hello to a new defenceman yesterday while saying goodbye to another.

They picked NHL prospect Jakub Vojta from the Czech Republic with the first pick of the Canadian Hockey League import draft, but have also learned veteran blueliner Will Colbert has agreed to play CIS hockey at St. Francis Xavier in Antigonish, N.S.

Colbert, an Ottawa Senators draftee in 2003, was three-year veteran of the 67's and served as captain last season. He could have returned to the 67's an overage 20-year-old next season.

But Colbert opted to go the college route -- if the Senators don't offer him a pro contract for next year.

"I just think it's best for me if I forego my (overage) year," said Colbert. "If it's not playing pro, then at least I'll get a head start on my education."

Colbert scored six goals and had 32 points last year during the regular season before getting three goals and 11 points during the team's improbable run to the OHL final against the London Knights.

His departure leaves 67's coach/GM Brian Kilrea with a clearer picture of his overage situation for next season. But he still must make tough decisions.

Clubs are permitted to have three overage players in uniform through the season. Kilrea had eight players from last year's team that could have returned for an overage season, but that number was reduced to five after Colbert's decision and a trade yesterday that sent Czech import Jakub Petruzalek to the Barrie Colts for the 43rd selection in yesterday's draft.

RUGGED WINGER

The 67's used that pick to take 17-year-old left winger Tibor Radulay from Slovakia, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder who had 120 penalty minutes in 28 games for the Dukla Trencin juniors last year.

Others who could play as overagers are goalie Danny Battochio, wingers Julian Talbot, Mark Mancari, Chris Hulit, and defenceman Nick Van Herpt.

Battochio, an undrafted free agent, will likely get professional offers after an outstanding MVP season. Lukas Kaspar, a first-round draft pick by the San Jose Sharks in 2004, won't return.

Major junior teams are permitted to carry two European import players for the next three seasons before new regulations implemented by Canadian Hockey restrict overseas imports to one per team in 2008-09.

Kilrea said he was satisfied with his two picks yesterday. The club wanted to take Czech winger Michael Frolik with its top pick, but the NHL prospect did not want to play in North America.

"We wanted to make sure that someone we selected was definitely coming and there would be no problem with their release," said Kilrea.

The QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic took a chance on Frolik at No. 38.

Vojta, a right-handed shot, played for the Sparta Prague junior team last season, and also represented his country at the world under-18 championship last April. "If he can play at that level and move the puck, then I'm sure he can play at our level," said Kilrea.

The Gatineau Olympiques traded with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to get the eighth pick and selected Czech left winger Ladislav Jindrich, who scored 53 goals in 45 games for his junior club in Pardubice.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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