Spits Select Finnish Blueliner in CHL Import Draft
The Windsor Spitfires have added a Finnish defenceman in the 2019 CHL Import Draft.
The Spitfires selected right shooting blueliner Ruben Rafkin with the 14th overall pick.
The 17-year-old Rafkin -- who is listed at 6-feet and 188 pounds -- says he is excited about joining the Spitfires, and knows the City and the team well.
"Of course I know the coaches, I've got some friends in Windsor, and I know they have a nice rink and good program, and also I know they have a really beautiful city," says Rafkin, who is friends with Finnish goalie Kari Piiroinen, who plays for the Spitfires.
Rafkin is from Turku, Finland but played for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL last season, posting two goals and eight assists, along with 90 penalty minutes in 38 games played.
Windsor GM Warren Rychel says they targeted Rafkin in the draft.
"This kid caught our eye with his physical play and he played at the World Under 17's," says Rychel. "He's the kind of guy that is not fun to play against, he's going to clear the net, he's going to hit and guys in the league are going to be aware when he's on the ice, and it's certainly an element we don't have right now on our blueline."
Rafkin also represented Finland in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, recording a goal and an assist in six games.
He tells AM800 Sports he brings a lot to the table for the Spitfires.
"Pretty skilled, fast, I play really hard, kind of annoying to play against," says Rafkin. "Usually, a lot of guys hate me when they play on the other team, but when I'm on their team, they like me, so I'm a good teammate."
Rafkin has played in North America for the last three years, having played two years in South Kent prep school in Connecticut before joining the USHL.
He admits his career path has changed over the years.
"When I moved to USA, it was only about college and playing in college, and then last year it got me (thinking) to change options because all of my life has always been school and hockey," admits Rafkin. "That's kind of why I started thinking about Windsor and the OHL."
Rychel tells AM800 Sports Rafkin is already use to the smaller ice surface in North America.
Obviously in Europe, you have more time to close in on a guy, but he has been over here for three years, he's going to be use to it," says Rychel. "I don't see there's going to be a big adjustment period to the OHL. He's going to be able to come in and contribute right away."
Rychel said he wanted to add to his blueline through the import draft.
"We made some moves upfront. In the last week or so, we required forwards, and it was time to add a defenceman in our 02-03 age group and this was a perfect situation for that," says Rychel. "This guy has a takes no prisoners attitude and he can play hockey and he's a rough and tumbler that's for sure."
The Spits passed on their second selection in the draft, already having Finnish goaltender Kari Piiroinen on their OHL roster.