The Seattle Thunderbirds selected two players in the annual Canadian Hockey League Import Draft on Thursday.
The T-Birds chose forward Andrej Kukuca from Slovakia in the first round with the 29th overall selection. They selected defenseman Simon Kubicek from the Czech Republic in the second round with the 89th overall pick.
Kukuca had 43 goals and 27 assists in 44 games for Trencin in the Slovakian U20 Junior League last season. In 18 playoff games last season, he had 18 goals and 10 assists.
Kukuca, a 6-foot-2, 165-pounder with a right-hand shot, was ranked No. 84 by NHL Central Scouting for international skaters for the 2018 NHL Draft.
“Through his history he has always scored. He’s had real good numbers and produced offense and that’s what we were looking for,” said Russ Farwell, vice president of hockey operations for the T-Birds. “We’re hoping he can come in and get established early and fit with our group. We think an older guy that can give us some offense is an ideal fit with our team right now.”
Kubicek played 29 games last season with Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic U18 League and had nine goals and 10 assists. He also represented his country, playing six games at the U17 World Hockey Challenge and had three assists.
“Kubicek is a real talent. He played at the World Under 18 tournament and did well at that level. We were surprised he got to us in the second round, so we were real happy with that,” Farwell said.
Every CHL team is allowed a maximum of two non-North American players on their roster each season. These players must be drafted in the CHL Import Draft held each summer to be eligible to play. Teams are permitted to select in the Import Draft if they have less than two import players on their current roster. Entering the draft, the T-Birds had no import players on the roster.
The two-round draft took place online with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three leagues, using an inverse order of the final regular-season standings within each league from the 2017-18 season.