The Prince Albert Raiders are heading into Wednesday’s CHL Import Draft with the ninth overall pick, hoping to add a forward with immediate impact.
And judging by what the Raiders have done in recent years, chances are that new player could be from the Czech Republic.
Since 1997, eight of the Raiders’ 20 draft European imports have been Czech. The Czech mates have especially found their way on the Raiders roster in recent years, as every import has been from the Czech Republic since 2013.
Simon Stransky came a year after that, and Vojtech Budik was the most recent pick in 2015. The last European to play for the Raiders that wasn’t Czech was German Leon Draisaitl, picked second overall in 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.
“Most of the time, they’re pretty good players and they’re willing to come over—that’s the one thing,” said Ron Gunville, Raiders director of player personnel. “They don’t have a real good junior system in the Czech Republic, so those kids want to play elsewhere and a lot them want to come over to the western league.”
The Raiders passed on last year’s import draft, opting to keep Stransky and Budik around. That won’t be the case this year, as Stransky signed with FC Vitkovice in his hometown of Ostrava, Czech Republic for his 20-year-old season.
The Raiders will be looking to replace Stransky, and have a big opportunity to do so as they hold the ninth overall draft choice.
“We’re looking at a forward for this year’s draft,” Gunville said. “We already have a defenceman in Vojtech who’s a Euro, so we’re looking for a forward and a guy who can come and contribute right away.”
Here’s what the Raiders have done in past drafts.
2015- Czech Republic, Vojtech Budik, 1st round, 17th pick
2014- Czech Republic, Simon Stransky, 1/24
2013- Czech Republic, Tomas Andrlik, 1/37
2012- Germany, Leon Draisaitl, 1/2
2011- Norway, Jonas Knutsen, 1/15
Latvia, Kristaps Bazevics 1/24
2009- Sweden, Fredrik Cedergren, 1/26
2008- Belarus, Igor Revenko, 1/48
2007- Czech Republic, Tomas Voracek, 1/19
2006- Slovakia, Lukas Zeliska, 1/11
Slovakia, Milan Jurik, 1/57
2005- Slovakia, Peter Cmorej, 1/24
2004- Slovakia, Marcel Olehla, 1/49
2003- Finland, Aki Seitsonen, 1/23
2000- Slovakia, Igor Pohanka, 1/22
1998- Czech Republic, Michal Sivek, 1/10
Czech Republic, David Hajek, 2/67
1997- Czech Republic, Milan Kraft, 1/43
Czech Republic, Jaromir Smatrala, 2/59
On Twitter: @jeff_paNOW
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