Import draft a 'crapshoot'

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Kelly Kisio will fire a pair of darts at the CHL import draft dartboard today.

And he'll be doing it blindfolded.

The Calgary Hitmen GM/head coach will be looking for a couple of skilled players in today's draft (7 a.m., www.chl.ca).

But he'll be forced to select players without ever having seen them play.

"It's a bit of a crapshoot," said Kisio, who holds the 40th and 100th picks.

"You have to rely on other people's opinions a lot of times. You're not relying on your own eye."

Or those of his scouting staff, which he trusts completely.

But for the European draft, Kisio will have to rely on scouts and player agents.

"I talk to some of my buddies who I scouted with and I know a lot of the head scouts," he said. "And there's agents who you trust. After that, you cross your fingers.

"A lot of times, some (agents) are trying to get their guys over here and they sell their players.

"And quite often, they're not right."

The Hitmen had a pair of Swedish imports last season. Freddie Pettersson returned home after two seasons in Calgary while the Edmonton Oil Kings grabbed Robin Figren in the expansion draft.

With Pettersson and Figren, the Hitmen had two decent imports on the roster at the same time. That hasn't been the norm.

For every Freddie Sjsotrom (2001-03), there's a Dennis Sergeyev or a Jiri Cetkovsky.

"It's tough enough to find one, let alone two, players who can be impact players on your hockey team," Kisio said.

With Pettersson, Figren and Sjostrom, Kisio has had luck with Swedish players recently.

"Mostly, we're just looking for the best player," he said. "But the Swedes are attractive because they speak English and their transition into the North American culture is a lot quicker compared to some of the other nationalities."

Four WHL teams -- Edmonton (first), Portland (fourth), Kelowna (seventh) and Chilliwack (10th) -- pick in the top 10 of today's draft.


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