After playing a full season in North America, the Rebels held onto defenseman Christoffer Sedoff as their lone import player from the 2019-2020 season. They spent the entirety of the season playing with just one on their roster.
When the 2020 CHL Import Draft rolled around last Tuesday, the Rebels knew they had a shot at a very good player as they held the 18th overall selection.
With a number of teams opting to pass on their selections, Red Deer selected the 14th player of the day, choosing the Czech Republic native Tomas Chlubna. The 2002-born forward is eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft when it is held later this year, delayed because of the novel coronavirus.
NHL Central Scouting has him ranked as the #52 European prospect, while McKeen’s has him pegged at #153 and Larry Fischer of The Hockey Writers has him ranked #206.
Last season Chlubna played for HC Dukla Jihlava of the Chance Liga, leading all U18 players in the league with six goals and 10 assists.
Tomas Chlubna led all U18 players in the #ChanceLiga in goals (6), assists (10) and points (16) this season.
Big forward with good offensive tools was also the top scorer of the Czech U18 national team.
— Czech Prospects (@CZprospects) April 4, 2020
With the uncertainties surrounding the 2020-21 WHL season, the hope is that Chlubna will want to come to North America when and if the season starts. October 2nd is the current target for the Western Hockey League.
“With the COVID, there’s a lot of uncertainty about everything,” Rebels assistant general manager Shaun Sutter told Greg Meachem. “But our understanding is that he wants to play (in North America), that he wants to come to the CHL.
“It’s a real weird year for the import draft because there’s a lot of players who have decided to stay in Europe. Some teams took names today who have contracts in Europe that they can’t get out of.”
That is not the case for Chlubna, making the path to North America clear when the time is right.
Chlubna turns 18 years old on July 6th, and his 6-foot-2, 183-pound frame shows a lot of maturity.
“He’s a taller kid with good hands and he can shoot the puck. He was captain of the Czech team in the (European tournament) Five Nations Cup in February and has always been a good guy on their national teams,” added Sutter.
Chlubna also played with the Czech team at last year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup, garnering three assists in four games and attention from the junior hockey world, including the Rebels scouting staff.
The Red Deer Rebels have had a lot of success drafting players from the Czech Republic over the last decade.
Kristian Reichel was drafted 27th overall by Red Deer in the 2017 CHL Import Draft. He played just one season in the Rebels organization before moving on to the Manitoba Moose. In his WHL season, he scored 34 goals and added 23 assists in 63 games. His play with the Moose has garnered him a two-year entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets.
Michael Spacek declined to come to Canada when he was drafted by the Medicine Hat Tigers in 2014 but made the jump to North America the following season when selected by the Rebels. Spacek played two full seasons in Red Deer and showed off his offensive flair, scoring 48 goals and adding 91 assists in 120 games. He too became a member of the Manitoba Moose following his WHL career. He has now played three seasons with the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets.
Despite a career that has now gone off the track a little bit, Patrik Bartošák was an integral part of the Red Deer Rebels for three seasons. He played in 145 games for the Rebels, posting an 80-50-6-5 record along with a 2.59 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. He won the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Year award in 2012-13 after posting a 33-14-5-0 record with a 2.26 GAA and a .935 sv%. He is now signed to play with the Finnish Liiga Lahden Pelicans Oy following a successful season with HC Ocelari Trinec (Czech League) and MODO Hockey (Allsvenskan).