Tuesday, Niagara IceDogs’ General Manager, Joey Burke, will make the highest selection in team history; when he calls the name of the fourth overall pick in the 29th annual Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. The organization has also formally registered their intention to pass on 64th overall pick in order to retain the rights to Swiss’ defenceman Giancarlo Chanton, the club’s first-round selection (47th overall) in last year’s European draft.
With each CHL team limited to a maximum of two import players on their roster. There is little question as to why Niagara chose to retain Chanton’s services. The 6-foot, 174-pound smooth-skating, stand-out acclimatized to North American play well in 2019-20, showing the grit and effort that the coaching staff asked of him, registering eight points in 56 games.
Internationally, from 2017 to 2020, Chanton, who is entering his first year of NHL draft eligibility next season has represented his country on the world stage in multiple tournaments, including captaining the Swiss at the U17 level. He has also competed in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and pre-tournament camps for the U20 squad.
While most parents, and siblings might hesitate at the thought of their 17-year-old son or brother, relocating to another country and continent, the Chanton’s, Mirco and Helena, twin-brother Linus, and sister Luana embraced it.
“It was my dream to come over, and play in Canada, especially the OHL, and my family told me that I should take this chance and that I should give everything for my dream — they were really excited too”.
In his time in St.Catharines, Chanton has been particularly impressed by the commitment and support of the Meridian Centre faithful.
“You live like a professional here. In Switzerland, junior hockey isn’t as big. We have maybe around 50 fans or so in the rink, and in Niagara, we get 5000, that’s special”.
Although he has made the transition to CHL play look easy, the native of Büsserach, Switzerland notes that he has had to work to adjust his game. His message to other players, looking to make the jump to North American major junior, is clear.
“You have to be ready physically, and mentally. Everything is a lot quicker. You have less time when you have the puck to make a smart play on the ice”.
Ultimately Giancarlo’s play has been so steady, that IceDogs management is evidently comfortable passing on its’ 64th overall pick, to keep him on the roster. With a skilled blueline already in the fold, and another quality player coming for next season, the IceDogs seem to be in a tremendous position to start next season.
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