The Kontinental League is holding its 2014 entry draft today and one team laid claim to the likely top pick in next year’s NHL draft.
Erie Otters sensation Connor McDavid was selected by Medvescak Zagreb in the second round of the Russian league’s entry draft, becoming the latest high profile NHL prospect to get picked up in this process. He just finished a phenomenal season in the Ontario League, scoring 28 goals and 99 points in 56 regular season games and 19 points in 14 playoff games.
But will he ever play for Zagreb? Likely not.
The team will now own McDavid’s KHL rights, for potential use during the next inevitable NHL lockout, or for a minor trade. It’s not the first time this has happened.
For instance, Taylor Hall, Victor Hedman, Zack Kassian and Erik Gudbranson were among those taken in the 2009 draft – the first of its kind for the KHL. Last year, 2015 NHL prospect Jack Eichel and 2014 NHL prospect Aaron Ekblad were both scooped up in the KHL draft. None of them will likely ever play full-time in the KHL.
And this talent? This talent is going to one league after next season – and that league doesn’t have a team in Croatia.
But McDavid wasn’t even the first North American NHL prospect to be taken in the draft: that honor fell to 2015 prospect Travis Konecny, who was picked 25th overall by Dynamo Riga.
The first pick overall at the KHL draft was Kirill Kaprizov, who was taken by Metallurg Novokuznetsk.