The Victoria Royals stuck with familiar territory in the 2020 Canadian Hockey League import draft.
Victoria took 17-year-old forward Marcus Almquist — who hails from the same Danish hometown as Royals captain Phillip Schultz — 27th overall in the first round. The network of knowledge continues through Royals assistant coach J.F. Best, who has been assistant coach with the Danish national team at several past world junior championships.
“Almquist and [Schultz] have the same agent, who we trust through his relationship with Phillip,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price.
“And we know about Almquist through J.F. [Best].”
Almquist is only five-foot-five, setting up a familiar Royals plotline also in terms of compact impact.
“He has exciting puck skills and is very aware with a similar style to [former undersized Royals forwards] Dante Hannoun and Matthew Phillips,” said Price.
Almquist showed his offensive prowess in making 10 appearances for the Danish U-20 team as a 16-year-old with seven goals and nine points.
The CHL — the umbrella organization for the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — allows two imports per team. Victoria is set in that category with three-time Danish world junior player Schultz and 2019-20 Royals rookie-of-the-year Keanu Derungs of Switzerland both returning for 2020-21.
Almquist will play junior in Sweden next season before coming to Victoria for the 2021-22 WHL season.
The Royals passed on their second selection in the two-round import draft.
A total of 66 players from 11 nations were taken by the 60 CHL teams. Russian forward Matvei Petrov went first overall to North Bay of the OHL followed by Czech goaltender Jan Bednar second overall to Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL and Slovak blue-liner Oliver Fatul third to Swift Current of the WHL.
The online draft was conducted with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three leagues, using an inverse order of final regular season standings from 2019-20.
ICE CHIPS: The Royals made a minor trade in acquiring 17-year-old Moose Jaw Triple-A U-18 defenceman Wyatt Wilson in return for a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2023 WHL bantam draft. Wilson is the older brother of Anthony Wilson, who was Victoria’s second overall pick (taken in the third round) in the 2020 bantam draft.