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Royals add speedy Belarussian in import draft

The Victoria Royals, known for forwards who are small but fast and talented, picked a player in their own image Wednesday in the 2017 Canadian Hockey League import draft.

The Victoria Royals, known for forwards who are small but fast and talented, picked a player in their own image Wednesday in the 2017 Canadian Hockey League import draft.

Igor Martynov is a five-foot-10 winger who led Belarus in scoring at the 2017 IIHF U-18 world championship, and whose style seems to fit in with the likes of Royals forwards Matthew Phillips and Dante Hannoun.

“[Martynov] is a good complement to our offensive guys,” said Victoria GM Cam Hope.

“He’s got good hands, a great release and tremendous offensive instincts.”

The Royals selected him in the 30th slot among the 60 CHL teams.

Hope admits Martynov wasn’t among the main players he went to scout in April at the U-18 worlds in Slovakia. But by the end of the tournament, the Belarussian had “moved to the top of the Royals’ list” with his three goals and four assists for seven points in seven games. The 180-pounder also displayed some edge with 14 minutes in penalties.

“The WHL is no longer about size. It’s about players who are good, regardless of size,” said Hope.

Martynov was selected 73rd overall by Dinamo Minsk in the third round of the 2016 KHL draft and had four goals and 11 points in playing 20 games last season with the centralized national U-20 team in the Belarus Extra League and three goals and six points in six games for the centralized U-18 national team in the Belarus High League.

Martynov was also picked last year in the CHL import draft by the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League but sent back to Belarus after the OHL exhibition season when a Petes import player was returned from an NHL camp. Each CHL team is allowed only two European players on the roster.

“So [Martynov] has had a taste of the smaller North American ice surface and should hit the ground running when he arrives in our training camp,” added Hope.

Martynov, 18, has committed to coming to the Royals. That is one thing CHL teams must be wary of when making their import selections.

Victoria’s other import spot for the 2017-18 Western Hockey League season will be filled by 19-year-old Russian forward Yan Khomenko, whom the Royals acquired last month from the Moose Jaw Warriors, in exchange for a sixth-round bantam draft pick.

The Royals’ two allowable European imports from the past two seasons were forward Vladimir Bobylev and defenceman Marsel Ibragimov. Both those Russians are among seven returning Victoria 20-year-olds for 2017-18. Only three 20-year-olds are allowed per WHL team. Those Royals over-age spots for next season appear reserved for Anaheim Ducks-prospect forward Tyler Soy, L.A. Kings-signed blue-liner Chaz Reddekopp and energy-forward Regan Nagy.

Bobylev is a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick likely thinking about pursuing the pro game, either in North America or Russia. Ibragimov is a casualty of the Royals’ overage numbers game and plans to play pro in Europe.

Martynov shares the same agent with Bobylev and Ibragimov.

“That made the transition smoother,” said Hope.

The top-two selections were Russian forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Alexander Khovanov to the Barrie Colts of the OHL and Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, respectively.

The top three WHL imports drafted were Swiss forward Gillian Kohler, third overall by the Kootenay Ice, Slovakian forward Milos Roman, sixth overall by the Vancouver Giants, and German forward Dominik Bokk, ninth overall by the Prince Albert Raiders.

ICING CALLS: Undrafted Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse is in the Golden Knights development camp that begins today in Las Vegas. “I knew if he slipped through the draft, Griffen would get a [free-agent] invite somewhere,” said Hope. “Goalies mature later and Griffen is the most athletic in the WHL and the best under six-foot-two.” . . . Royals defenceman Scott Walford, selected in the third round of the 2017 draft by Montreal, starts Sunday in the Canadiens development camp. . . . Receiving a free-agent invite to the development camp of the Arizona Coyotes is graduated 2016-17 Royals captain Ryan Gagnon. . . . It’s been a long grind to the NHL through the ECHL and AHL for Mark Morrison, former head coach of the Victoria Salmon Kings, who was named Wednesday as assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks.

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