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Sting take Finn in first round of CHL Import Draft

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Barry Wright

For only the second time in the past nine seasons, the Sarnia Sting looked to Finland for their first round selection in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft.

The club chose sharp-shooting winger Patrik Laine with its first round pick last week.

The other Finn taken by Sarnia in recent memory was goaltender Tomi Karhunen in the 2007 draft. He played only one season here before returning to his homeland.

Though concerns were raised about Laine’s skating and maturity, Sting General Manager Nick Sinclair said the 6’3,” 210-lb. power forward had too much to offer for the club to pass when it came time to make the 24th overall pick.

“He plays hard at both end of the ice,” said Sinclair. “And I guess, most importantly, he’s a goal scorer.”

The 17-year-old, who is projected as a first round pick in the 2016 NHL draft, notched 28 goals in 70 league and tournament games with teams in Finland last season.

While some have suggested it’s unlikely Laine will wear a Sting uniform this season because he’s under contract with Tappara of the Finnish league, Sinclair has spoken to Laine’s representation to let him know the door is always open in Sarnia.

“We feel it’s important to set our sights on the highest end talent out there and try to let them know that playing in the OHL is the best route for their development and exposure,” said Sinclair.

With its second round selection, Sarnia chose a familiar name in Louis Latta, the 16-year-old brother of former Sting Nick Latta.

The younger Latta played 66 games last season, split between a U19 team and a senior squad in Germany, where he recorded a total of 29 goals.

“Louis competes hard and plays a North American-style game,” said Sinclair. “We feel he has a lot of upside and plays the game the right way,” he added.

The Sting was able to make two selections in the import draft because Czech Republic import Pavel Zacha was placed on an NHL reserve list after being chosen by New Jersey in the first round of the recent NHL draft.

If Zacha is returned to the Sting from the Devils, Sarnia will need to make a decision on the future of either Laine or Latta since junior clubs are only allowed two imports per roster.










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