The Prince Albert Raiders selected a Czech forward in the CHL import draft on Wednesday, potentially creating a logjam for the team once the season starts.
Simon Stransky, the brother of former Saskatoon Blade Matej Stransky, was selected 24th overall. The 16-year-old left winger, who is 167 pounds and 5’11,” will turn 17 on Dec. 21.
Raiders GM Bruno Campese saw Simon Stransky play at the U17 tournament in Cape Breton last winter.
“He’s very skilled, very smart, sees the ice well, can make plays, an exceptional skater,” Campese said.
Stransky played 37 games with the HC Vitkovice last season, scoring 20 times and adding 31 assists. He also played 13 games with the club’s U20 team, scoring once and adding four assists.
On the international stage, he had three goals and two assists in five games with the Czech U17 team at that age group’s world U17 tournament while compiling 17 points in 25 games overall with the U17 national team.
Each Canadian Hockey League team is allowed to carry two imports on their roster. The Raiders currently have German forward Leon Draisaitl, who was selected third overall in the recent NHL draft by the Edmonton Oilers, and Tomas Andrlik, a Czech defenceman.
If Draisaitl is returned to the Raiders by the Oilers -- a decision that is out of the WHL team’s hands -- either Andrlik would have to be moved or Stransky would have to be waived through the league because you can’t trade an import player who you just selected.
The Raiders would have 14 days to make that decision.
The team will be hoping that good hands are a family trait.
Matej Stransky scored 93 goals and added 99 assists in 213 WHL games, along with piling up 216 penalty minutes.
“We just thought there was so much upside to this player as far as his age, he’s very young and we’re not expecting the world out of him next year, but I do believe that he … has the potential to be a National Hockey League draft pick,” Campese says.
He noted that both Stransky’s brother and father are much taller, suggesting there is still room for growth as well.
“I think there is a lot of potential in this player,” Campese says. “We’ve talked to his agency and he’s excited about coming over, so as of right now it sounds good.”
Campese says he has been focused on the import draft but that part of his attention will now return to his overage situation.
After trading Chance Braid last month, the team still has Shane Danyluk, Sawyer Lange, Carson Perreaux, Jayden Hart, Dakota Conroy and Calder Brooks on the roster.
They can only hang onto three during the season.
“I would like to move one of them before training camp and get that down to five,” he says. “If we started with five, I wouldn’t have an issue with it. We’ve gone the other way in the past where we’ve gotten to three and all of a sudden guys like (Antoine) Corbin and (Jonathan) Parker go to camp and make it. Then we’re searching for one.”
Corbin was offered an AHL deal by the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2012 while Parker was signed by the Rochester Americans in 2011.
Hart will be attending New Jersey’s camp so he could be offered a pro deal as well.
In the meantime, Campese says he’s happy the difficult process of drafting an import player is over but is also pleased with the team’s system of identifying and selecting European talent.
“We hit a homerun with Draisaitl, we’ve got a good player in Andrlik and I think we’ve got a really good young player in Stransky.”