Kings of the imports

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

The Edmonton Oil Kings have the pick of the litter heading into this morning's CHL Import Draft.

But there's more to the draft than just taking the best European hockey player available.

"We talk to their agents as to whether their client is willing to come over and play," said Oil Kings general manager Bob Green. "We also sometimes have agents submit a list of kids to us that are willing to come over. It can be quite a process."

The Oil Kings have the top pick in the draft this morning.

Green would not divulge who the team was going to select, but he did indicate it will be a forward and a younger one at that.

"Because we're looking at a younger guy, it's tough to say if he's going to impact our lineup right away," Green said.

"Like a lot of Europeans there's an adjustment period for them to learn a new language, learn a new lifestyle, all those things. That sometimes affects them on the ice at times early in their career.

"We think the younger guy we're looking at is a high-end talent. He'll have the ability to grow into our team a little bit and certainly be a really good player in a year or so."

As an expansion team who'll begin play in the Western Hockey League this season, the Oil Kings were awarded the first pick over the rest of the major junior hockey teams in the country.

All teams are allowed to have two European players on their roster. However with the Oil Kings having selected Robin Figren in the WHL expansion draft, they are only interested in taking one European player this morning.

Figren, 19, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, played with the Calgary Hitmen last season, scoring 10 goals and adding 17 assists in 62 games.

There has been some interest from other CHL teams in the top pick and have approached the Oil Kings about a trade. But the Oil Kings plan on keeping their spot in the draft.

"Certainly from our standpoint we want to get a real good player and we want to take advantage of having the first pick overall," Green said.

"Having the first pick overall is the only way you can guarantee you're going to get the guy that you want. That's probably the way we're looking at it and we'll probably stay with it."

One of the players mentioned as a possibility to be taken by the Oil Kings is Milan Kytnar, 20, whom the Edmonton Oilers selected in the fifth round (127th overall) in last weekend's NHL Entry Draft. However, he doesn't really fit into the Oil Kings plans.

"Certainly he was someone that came up on our radar a little bit," Green said.

"But in the end we were probably looking at someone a little younger than he is and probably more poised to be a factor three years down the road, because of where our team is going to be at."

Another top player is Mikhail Stefanovich of Belarus. He had four goals and an assist at the 2007 World Junior Hockey championships.

However, unlike other drafts, there is no consensus top pick when it comes to the European draft.

"It really depends on how you key with that. Some teams that are looking at being really good next year are probably looking at an older guy," Green said.

"Teams that are building are probably looking at younger guys. I think you're trying to get the best player that fits where you're at with your team right now."


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