The Halifax Mooseheads’ front office was breathing a big sigh of relief yesterday.
More than two months after drafting highly-touted Czech winger Martin Frk third overall in the Canadian Hockey League import draft, the Mooseheads finally confirmed he’ll actually put on their jersey this season.
“We knew to an extent what we were getting into when we drafted him, but we didn’t quite realize it was going to be this much of an ordeal to get him on the team,” said Mooseheads majority owner Bobby Smith.
Smith successfully negotiated the release of Frk from HC Karlovy Vary, just two weeks after the International Ice Hockey Federation denied his transfer because he had a contract with the Czech club valid through April 2012.
Smith, who said Karlovy Vary wasn’t open to “any form of negotiation” two weeks ago, didn’t comment on whether financial compensation helped move the process along.
“We came to an agreement, but there’s a confidentiality agreement regarding all the terms and that’s all I can say,” Smith said.
“At the end of the day, the guys with Karlovy Vary were open to talk and do what was in Martin’s best interests and grant us the release,” Smith added.
Neither Smith nor Mooseheads head coach and general manager Cam Russell had so much as laid eyes on Frk up until yesterday.
But their scouting sources have described him as a Cam Neely-type. He is considered a first-round prospect for the 2012 NHL draft and should spend at least two seasons in Halifax.
“This could be a very big day for our franchise,” Smith said.
• Frk, who will wear No. 91, will practice with the team this morning at Cole Harbour Place but will not play tonight at 7 p.m. on the road against the Saint John Sea Dogs.
• Frk’s agent, Allan Walsh, made the following tweet yesterday: “Bobby Smith’s persistence is largely responsible for obtaining Frk’s clearance to play. He did an amazing job here.”
• Frk had an outstanding season at the Czech under-20 level in 2009-10, collecting 28 goals and 27 assists for 55 points along with 184 penalty minutes in 39 games.