The 2019 CHL Import Draft took place via online on Thursday, where all 60 CHL teams from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL look to improve their teams with some of the best European junior-aged hockey players.
Each team is allowed two spots for import players on their roster.
The Vancouver Giants came into Thursday’s draft with both of their spots currently filled by Calgary Flames draft pick Milos Roman (Slovakia) who was drafted sixth overall in the 2017 Import Draft and Sergei Alkhimov (Russia) who had just been acquired in a trade two days prior to the draft that saw incoming overage forward Dawson Holt go to the Regina Pats.
The import spot taken by Alkhimov was previously held by German 2000-born forward Yannik Valenti who had nine points (4G, 5A) in 52 games along with three goals in 22 playoff appearances with Vancouver in 2018-19. The day before the Giants acquired Alkhimov, it was announced that Valenti would be returning to Germany after being on loan to Vancouver to play for Heilbronner Falken of the DEL2.
With the uncertainty of Milos Roman returning, who would take up an import and overage spot, the Vancouver Giants made one selection on Thursday after not picking in the 2018 Import Draft.
The team picked 2002-born left-handed Slovakian defenceman Samuel Knazko with the 59th overall selection in the first round.
The six-foot-zero, 170 pound defender doesn’t turn 17 until August 7th and suited up for 49 games with TPS U20 of the Jr. A SM-liiga in Finland where he had 17 points (2G, 15A).
Knazko has represented Slovakia at the U16, U17 and U18 levels, assistant captaining Team Slovakia at the World Under-18 Tournament, his second consecutive year playing in the tournament.
Giants General Manager Barclay Parneta had this to say about their newest import: “According to our sources, Samuel was one of the best defenceman available in this draft. His international resume is impressive to say the least.”
The Giants have picked a Slovakian in five different Import Drafts in their franchise history.