Winnipeg Ice select familiar name in CHL Import Draft

Henri Nikkanen at Winnipeg Jets development camp in June 2019. Jonathan Kozub/Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Ice may have Winnipeg Jets brass making a few extra trips to Wayne Fleming Arena during the 2020-21 WHL season.

The Ice used the 42nd overall pick in Tuesday’s CHL Import Draft to select Finnish centre Henri Nikkanen, who was the Jets fourth-round selection in the 2019 NHL entry draft.

The Ice have the 19-year-old, left-shot pivot listed at six-foot, four-inches tall and 203 pounds. Nikkanen is coming off a season where he scored 17 goals and added 15 assists for 32 points in 23 games played for the Jukurit U20 squad before being called up to the Finnish League parent team, where he had three assists in 27 games.

“Henri is a talented two-way center that can contribute at both ends of the ice,” said Matt Cockell, Ice president and general manager, in a news release.

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Winnipeg used their second pick in the draft to take Slovakian goalie Eugen Rabcan of HKM Zvolen of the Slovakian U20 League.

In four games played, the 6’3″, 192-pound netminder had a 2.56 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. Rabcan, who just turned 19 this past Sunday, spent the majority of his season in the Slovak2 League with Spisska Nova Ves and had a 2.61 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 30 games played.

With the graduation of over-age goalie Liam Hughes, the battle to be Winnipeg’s #1 netminder for the 2020-21 season is wide open. But a decision on which imports to keep might develop if Michal Teply was to return from the Chicago Blackhawks organization.

The Ice have retained their rights to the talented Czech forward who led all WHL rookies in scoring this past season with 29 goals and 34 assists for 63 points in just 53 games. Teply was signed to a standard three-year entry-level contract with an AAV of $825,000 by the Blackhawks on April 10. He will likely play for Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford.

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