The Kitchener Rangers have been a busy team over the past couple days. After signing top prospect Francesco Pinelli the Rangers have signed both their 2019 CHL import selections.
The first to sign, Finnish born defenseman Ville Ottavainen has committed to the Rangers for 2019-2020. Ville Ottavainen was selected in the first round of the 2019 CHL import draft.
The Rangers import defenseman hails from Oulu, Finland, he spent last season with the Karpat U18 team. Ville was the top-scoring defenseman last season tallying 32 points in 22 games.
The six-foot-four defender has experience at the international stage, playing for both the U16 and U18 Finland National teams. He tallied one goal and one assist in 5 international games.
General Manager Mike McKenzie was asked about his new import defenseman during a media availability, here is what the Rangers GM had to say.
“He is a player with tremendous upside and ability. He adds to our already solid group of young players and will surely be a big part of our team moving forward.”
The flurry of signings continued as the Rangers second round import selection has also committed. Reports surfaced that the 19-year-old rearguard would remain in Sweden with Leksands IF. However, things have gone in favor of Kitchener and they are pleased to have him for the 2019-2020 campaign.
Swedish defenseman Axel Bergkvist was selected with the 95th overall draft pick in the 2019 CHL import draft.
During the press conference, Mike McKenzie was asked about his third signing in two days. The Rangers GM responded, “We felt very excited to be able to add Axel to our team and want to welcome him to the Rangers.”
Last season with Leksands IF J20 SuperElite team Axel posted 21 points in 23 games played. As a member of Leksands IF in the Allsvenskan league, he scored 3 goals, adding 7 assists for 10 points in 36 games played.
The five foot nine defender was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes at the 2019 NHL entry draft. Axel is known for his puck-moving and strong skating will be a welcomed addition to the Rangers young Blue line.
Axel was asked during the press conference about making the transition to playing hockey in Canada, he said: “it’s the biggest step in my hockey career.”
Axel Bergkvist joins fellow import player Ville Ottavainen as the newest additions to the Rangers defensive group. Donovan Sebrango and Michael Vukojevic will also be returning for Kitchener on the back end in 2019-2020.
The Rangers crop of young talent will be pivotal this season. Kitchener is building around a younger core after their veteran leadership has been dismantled. Rickard Hugg has returned to Sweden, Cole Cameron and Kyle Gentles have graduated to university hockey.