EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips answered their import player question Tuesday as they claimed 18-year-old Austrian center Dario Winkler off waivers.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder was a second-round pick of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2015 CHL import draft. Each WHL team is allowed two foreign players on its roster and Everett waived injured Russian defenseman Alexander Scherbakov to make room for Winkler.
Winkler will join Russian forward Yan Khomenko as Everett’s import players.
“There were very few options for us to add a (European player) and he was available,” Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said. “He hasn’t played a lot, but we tried to get some reports on guys that had been watching him. There weren’t any negative reports, but guys weren’t really sure what he was yet.”
Winkler played in two regular-season games for the Wheat Kings this season and did not record a point. He had one assist in four preseason games with Brandon before the season.
Winkler became available when the Wheat Kings elected to keep Latvian overage forward Rihards Bukarts and 18-year-old Russian defenseman Ivan Provorov to fill their two import slots.
Provorov was the first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers and was sent back from training camp in September. Bukarts was sent back to Brandon from the Edmonton Oilers training camp.
Winkler played for EC Salzburg in the MHL last season, and tallied two goals and an assist in 13 games. He also played in 10 combined games with Austria’s U-18 and U-20 programs, earning four points and four assists. He helped lead the U-18 team to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships last season, and was named top player on the squad during the 2013-14 campaign.
That season, Winkler was second in club scoring with EC Salzburg’s U-18 club for the Red Bulls Hockey Rookie Cup circuit with 13 goals and 16 assists in 22 games.
“I know he gets around the ice well and has pretty good hands,” Davidson said. “Obviously with Scherbakov gone for the year there are going to be very few Euros we can go after.”
Scherbakov appeared in only one preseason game with the Silvertips and suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder. The 5-10, 220-pound defenseman had surgery on Sept. 21. He is unlikely to be claimed off of waivers.
Khomenko has yet to appear in a regular-season game after banging his head into the crossbar three weeks ago, though he has been skating in full contact drills with the team. He had a promising preseason with three goals and two assists in five games.
Defenseman Tristen Pfeifer wore a red non-contact jersey and skated after practice as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury suffered during Everett’s season-opening road trip to Prince George. He was scratched in both of last weekend’s home games. … Rookie center Brian King also sat out practice and is listed as day-to-day on the WHL injury report with an undisclosed upper body injury.
Follow Silvertips writer Jesse Geleynse on Twitter @jessegeleynse.