By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The Oshawa Generals added another piece to their blueline on June 28 after selecting Switzerland’s Nico Gross in the first round of the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.
With the 40th pick in the draft, the Gens picked up the six-foot, 183-pound defenseman of the Zug U20 team of the Elite Jr. A league where Gross managed nine assists in 33 games last season.
However, with a contract to play in Switzerland next season, it’s unclear whether Generals fans will have the chance to see the Swiss defender, who also has experience on the international stage playing for Team Switzerland in the 2017 U18 World Championships and the 2017 World Juniors.
In fact, Gross may be slightly familiar with Oshawa and the Tribute Communities Centre having visited and played here in December during the World Juniors pre-tournament competition.
“We benefited from Nico being in our building at Christmas time during the pre-comp camp, this gave our hockey staff and I a chance to see him skate, practice and play,” states Roger Hunt, general manager and VP of the Generals in a news release.
Gross’s situation is a familiar one for Oshawa, who last season, selected recent NHL first rounder Eeli Tolvanen in the Import Draft despite the fact he’d already committed to playing for Boston College.
Despite being selected by the Nashville Predators in the first round of the recent draft, Hunt previously told The Express that he’s hoping Oshawa may remain a viable option for the young player.
“We’ll stay on it and we’ll be persistent,” Hunt said.
According to CHL rules, clubs can only have two import players on their roster, and while uncertainty remains around the second position, the first spot will be locked down by Renars Krastenbergs.