The 2018 CHL Import Draft took place online on June 28. It was the 27th CHL Import draft and the first one since 2013 to allow goalies to be selected. In turn seven goaltenders were selected with the first goalie, Finnish net minder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, going to the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL with the third pick. Luukonen was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The first player to be selected was 17 year old Slovakian forward Maxim Cajkovic, who played in Sweden’s top junior league last season and dished out 11 points in 5 games for Slovakia in the 2018 WJC-18. Out of the 77 players chosen by CHL teams, six of them were drafted in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Axel Andersson – Kitchener Rangers (OHL) 51st overall, Boston Bruins 57th overall
Ranked 27th in the NHL CSS final ranking for European Skaters, this 6-0, 178 pound defenseman spent last season playing for Djurgarden Jr. in Sweden’s junior league. He managed to tally 31 points (6 G, 25 A) in 42 games. Axel is a solid two-way defenseman who skates and moves the puck very well and has strength on the power play.
Jan Jenik – Flint Firebirds (OHL) 6th overall, Arizona Coyotes 65th overall
This 6-1, left shot right winger was picked up by the Coyotes in the third round of the NHL draft and scored seven points in seven games playing for Liberec Jr. in the Czech Republic junior league. He later manage to get 11 points in 30 games playing in the CZREP-2 league for Benatky N.J., earning him the 16th ranking by NHL CSS for European skaters. He is a player with good hockey IQ and a wide range of stick handling skills.
Matej Pekar – Barrie Colts (OHL) 108th overall, Buffalo Sabres 94th overall
Pekar (6-0, 170) spent last season playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL registering 14 goals and 40 assists for 54 points in 60 games. The left-shot center from the Czech Republic was ranked 55th in the final North American NHL CSS player rankings and was named USHL rookie of the year. Pekar is noted to have great work ethic, speed, and is skilled at navigating in the offensive zone. He is committed to Miami University (Ohio) for next season.
Ivan Prosvetov – Saginaw Spirit (OHL) 15th overall, Arizona Coyotes 114th overall
This 6-4, 170 pound goalie from Russia was ranked 14 in the final NHL CSS North American goalie rankings. He spent last season playing for the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL where he finished with a 0.913 save percentage in 36 games and a 0.921 save percentage in 10 playoff games going 7-3. Prosvetov is a big athletic goalie who was also taken sixth overall in the 2016 KHL draft by HK Sochi.
Akira Schmid – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) 20th overall, New Jersey Devils 136th overall
Swiss goaltender Akira Schmid (6-4, 165) was ranked sixth in the NHL CSS final rankings of goalies playing in Europe. He played 32 games for Langnau U20 in the Elite Jr. A league in Switzerland, finishing with a 2.60 goals against average, and had a strong showing in the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament for Switzerland finishing with a 0.930 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average in three games.
Liam Kirk – Peterborough Petes (OHL) 9th overall, Arizona Coyotes 189th overall
This 6-0, 161 pound left winger became the first player born and developed in England to be drafted by an NHL team. Ranked 65th in the final NHL European skater rankings, Kirk finished the 2017-18 season playing for Sheffield in England’s top professional league with 16 points (9 G, 7 A) in 52 games, the most by an under-18 player in EIHL history. He looks to play in the CHL season, so expect him to come in and make an impact for the Petes.
Six players who were chosen in the 2017 NHL Entry were also picked by CHL teams, including Vegas Golden Knights first round pick Erik Brannstrom who scored 15 points while playing for HV71 in Sweden’s top professional league this past season. He was chosen 44th overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) and was the only NHL draft first round pick chosen.
Now we just have to wait to find out which of these players will play in the CHL next season.