When the Brandon Wheat Kings open training camp on Tuesday, Aug. 26 they expect to have new import Ivan Provorov in the fold.
Provorov, 17, was chosen by the Wheat Kings with the 30th pick of this year’s Canadian Hockey League import draft. The Western Hockey League team announced on Thursday that the 6-foot-0, 193-pound Russian defenceman had his transfer approved by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
"(Getting the transfer approved is) real exciting because when we selected Ivan we weren’t sure exactly what his availability would be," Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "… I know he’s excited about it in talking to him and he’s looking forward to getting to Brandon, which he’ll do just prior to training camp."
Provorov played one game with Russia in an exhibition series as part of the Canadian national junior team’s development camp this month in Montreal, remaining in North America after the series ended, and is expected to arrive in Brandon on Aug. 23.
On National Hockey League Central Scouting’s futures list for next year’s NHL entry draft, Provorov played in the United States Hockey League last season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, picking up six goals and 19 points in 56 games.
Provorov’s arrival would complicate things if 20-year-old Richard Nejezchleb is returned to Brandon by the New York Rangers, who chose the Czech winger in the fifth round of this year’s NHL draft. The Wheat Kings would only be able to keep two from a group of Provorov, Nejezchleb and Latvian winger Rihards Bukarts, 18, due to the CHL’s import limit.
THOM TRADED: While a potential import battle is brewing in camp, the Wheat Kings pared down the candidates for blue-line spots by trading Dominic Thom, 18, to the Prince George Cougars on Thursday for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. Thom played a pair of games with the Wheat Kings last season, picking up one assist before spending the rest of the season with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Mustangs.
BACK IN BRANDON: The Wheat Kings announced on Thursday that goaltending coach Matt Cockell will return to the team after spending the past two years holding the same role with Canada’s Olympic gold-medal winning women’s hockey team.
McCrimmon said Hockey Canada enlisted Cockell for a number of programs in addition to the women’s team and was impressed by the Winnipegger’s work.
"I know they have a great deal of regard for him," McCrimmon said. "He could have continued on with Hockey Canada but I think he really enjoys the Wheat Kings and working with our organization as well. Brent Zelenewich had done a real good job in Matt’s absence and Matt will do a real good job here with his return to the Wheat Kings."