Sting select Slovakian centre Geci in CHL import draft

The Sarnia Sting selected Slovakian centre Alex Geci in the first round with the seventh overall pick in the Canadian Hockey League import draft Tuesday.

Centre Alex Geci of Topolcany, Slovakia, was selected seventh overall by the Sarnia Sting in the 2020 Canadian Hockey League import draft. (ISM Sport Management)

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The Sarnia Sting are counting on Alex Geci to make an immediate impact.

They selected the Slovakian centre in the first round of the Canadian Hockey League import draft with the seventh overall pick Tuesday.

Sting general manager Dylan Seca is certain Geci, who’ll turn 17 on Aug. 23, will sign with Sarnia for the coming OHL season.

“Left-shot centre, rangy, good skater, plays both ends of the ice, has skill,” Seca said. “We see him as a guy that can come in and contribute right away. And he’ll be here.

“He’s a kid that we won’t have a problem getting here. We’ve had good conversations with him and his agents before today and already today after the pick. He’s excited to be here.”

The native of Topolcany, Slovakia, sounds eager to get to Sarnia in a video he sent to the team.

“I‘m really proud and honoured to be a part of this organization and be a part of the Sting family,” Geci said. “Can’t wait to get things started. See you soon.”

The six-foot-two, 176-pound Geci will be eligible for the 2021 NHL draft.

“We expect him to be an NHL draft pick,” Seca said. “He does come in with that expectation already. That is how he’s been labelled by NHL sources that I have. … Obviously we’ll have to do some work to help him out and get him there, but we’re confident.”

The Sting GM added: “(He’s) a smart player. He’s smooth and reads the ice really well. I’d say more of a playmaker than a scorer, but we expect him to do both, to be truthful.”

Geci split last season between junior leagues in Slovakia and Finland.

He had 8-9-17 totals in 27 games with HC Slovan Bratislava U20 in Slovakia and then posted 6-8-14 totals in 13 games with Lukko U18 in Finland.

“(It’s) a good junior league in Finland,” Seca said. “For him to go play in that league and play well in that league, that’s a good indicator of being a good player.”

Geci also saw action with Slovakia’s U17 team last season.

“He’s a part of the U18 and world junior program for Slovakia,” Seca said. “You expect him to be probably a world junior player hopefully at some point, if not this year, the year after.”

The COVID-19 pandemic that shut down last season in March didn’t impact European scouting, Seca said.

He doesn’t know if CHL teams opted to draft players more likely to move overseas during this health crisis, but he does know Geci was a player the Sting wanted.

“You can still identify who the better players are,” Seca said about scouting. “You can still have conversations with your contacts in Europe and some NHL guys that you know. It was more just a matter of putting the best players in order.

“Truthfully, Geci fit both. He’s a player that we knew wanted to come but he also is a good player. We had him (ranked) where others did, too. I know there were other teams right after us that were going to take him.”

The Sting passed on making a second-round pick because they’re keeping Swedish defenceman Eric Hjorth. Teams can have only two import players.

The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect led Sting blue-liners in goals (12), assists (17) and points (29) in 60 games last season.

“We saw a lot of progress with him,” said Seca, who praised his upside. “A kid that we think can still help our team and is a piece of our power play.”