EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips looked at their roster and found a shortage of experience on defense. Tuesday morning they reached into Europe to address that issue.
Everett made a double dip into the defensive well during Tuesday’s Canadian Hockey League import draft, selecting defensemen Rasmus Rissanen and Radko Gudas with their two first-round picks.
Rissanen, a soon-to-be 18-year-old from Finland, was taken with the 17th-overall pick, which the Tips acquired from Regina during last year’s import draft. Gudas, a 19-year-old from the Czech Republic, was taken with Everett’s own pick at 20th overall.
And defense was always the plan for the Tips.
“Today was a happy day,” said Everett general manager Doug Soetaert, who was pleased with the way the draft unfolded. “The two guys we drafted are very physical, stay-at-home, shut-down guys who play hard every night.”
Rissanen and Gudas will fill Everett’s two European roster slots, which were both vacant. Soetaert said both Rissanen and Gudas are committed to playing in Everett next season rather than remaining in Europe.
Rissanen and Gudas bring plenty of experience to the table. Rissanen was a sixth-round pick in last weekend’s NHL draft by the Carolina Hurricanes and also played for Finland at the U-18 World Championships. Gudas has played at the top professional level in the Czech Republic and was also a member of the Czech team at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Adding experience to the back end was crucial for the Tips. Everett lost minute-eating defensemen Taylor Ellington and Graham Potuer as graduated overagers. Shayne Brown, who was originally counted on to be an overager next season, will not return because of a chronic hip-flexor injury. And 19-year-old Trevor Bauer may also not return, though the Tips have invited him back.
Everett was staring at the possibility of throwing several young defensemen straight into the fire next season. But in one fell swoop the Tips appear to have solved that problem.
“We felt we were real thin on the back end,” Soetaert said. “We have defensemen who are young and talented, but they’re not ready to carry the load in this league. We had to have some older guys, and today we got one player who was drafted (into the NHL) and the other is 19.”
Soetaert said Rissanen was Everett’s primary target from the start. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder hails from the Finnish town of Kuopio and is the first Scandinavian to ever grace Everett’s roster. Last season he played for KalPa in the Finnish junior league, where in 29 games he had one goal, eight assists and 56 penalty minutes. He also featured in all six of Finland’s games at the U-18 World Hockey Championships, helping the Finns to the bronze medal.
“He’s not your typical Finn,” Soetaert said. “He’s a puck mover, he’s not going to join into the rush. But he’s very physical and has good size.”
Gudas is the son of Leo Gudas, a 12-year veteran of European professional hockey who was a member of the Czechoslovakian team that won the bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound native of Kladno in the Czech Republic split time between two professional teams in his home country last season. He played seven games for Kladno at the top level, registering one assist and eight penalty minutes, then played 21 games for Berounsti Medvedi one level below, totaling three assists and 74 penalty minutes. He also played in all six games for the Czech Republic at World Juniors, amassing two goals, one assist and eight penalty minutes while being selected one of his team’s top three players.
“With Brown not coming back we felt we really needed an older defenseman, and he’s a guy who really competes hard,” Soetaert said. “He was very good at the World Junior Championships, even though his team was not. He’s very dominating physically, finishes his checks and keeps the game simple.”
Both Rissanen and Gudas are expected to report to Everett for training camp in late August, then will attend NHL training camps in September — Rissanen with Carolina, Gudas with the Los Angeles Kings.
Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog