For the first time in two seasons, the Prince Albert Raiders will welcome two new import players to Hockeytown North.
Last season, the Raiders broke camp with Belarusians Vladislav Shilo and Tikhon Chaika. Shilo was traded early in the season to Winnipeg, while Chaika formed a tandem with Max Hildebrand in goal for the entire season. Both players have signed deals in Belarus and will not be returning to Canada.
In the 2023 CHL Import Draft, the Raiders made a pair of selections taking Polish forward Krzyzstof Macias in the first round, 15th overall and Czech forward Matej Kubiesa in the second round, 75th overall.
Last season playing for HC Vitkovice’s U20 team, Macias posted 28 goals and 24 assists in 44 games played. He says he aspires to get an opportunity with NHL club, which made him make the jump to North America.
“The first thing is I think I had a decent season in Czechia last year and I think this is (my) last season with a chance to get drafted to the NHL and we spoke to some teams there and they said, I have to prove myself against the best juniors in the world and to where to find the best juniors in the world was probably in CHL. So that’s that was the way of going here.”
The Raiders have had success with their import draft selections in recent years. Leon Draisaitl was selected by Prince Albert with the second pick in the 2012 import draft and would be selected third overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2014 NHL Draft. Aliaksei Protas was drafted with the 26th pick in the 2018 import draft and was drafted the Washington Capitals in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft.
Macias says he was ecstatic when he heard that he was heading to Prince Albert.
“I got excited because I looked at the team last year. They had been an unfortunate start, but then they were doing pretty good. They had a younger team last year. We’re pretty much experienced and I think we will be dangerous for everybody this year. So, I am pretty excited to get there and let’s see how it goes.”
When asked how he will adjust to the North American game, Macias says he is prepared to fill any role asked of him by Jeff Truitt and the Raider coaching staff.
“I think I’m the tough guy. I am heavy, so I’ll try to take advantage of this do as best as I can. I love scoring goals, and everybody does. I may be more of a shooter than an assister, but I will do anything coach (Truitt) wants me to do. I will just play as hard as I can, and I am not willing to leave any battles. “
Fans who tuned into the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup last summer will be familiar with Matej Kubiesa. The 17-year-old posted five points in five games for Czechia during the tournament, including the game tying goal in the third period in the gold medal game against Canada.
He says he is hoping to gain new skills by playing in North America.
“I feel like the WHL is one of the best junior leagues in the world. So, I hope this league will make me better and help me in my game and just get me better.”
Kubiesa says he can contribute offensively but is looking to develop his game to provide value to the Raiders defensively as well.
“I would say I’m a pretty good skater with a great hockey IQ, great hockey sense with a great shot. Obviously, I’m trying to play a 200-foot game. I like to play hard hit players back, check for check so I would say I’m on something between a playmaker and two-way player.”
Last season, Kubiesa split time between the Malmo Redhawks in Sweden, where he posted 15 points in 17 games and HC Ocelari Trinec in Czechia, where he posted 16 points in 12 games for their U17 squad.
He says he is looking forward to playing in front of the Raider faithful at the Art Hauser Centre and was excited to hear his name called in the import draft.
“When I found out about it, I was really excited. I know about Prince Albert a lot. So, I’m really excited to play for Prince Albert. I’m looking forward to it and I’m just happy to be here.”
Subhead: Recent Raider Import Draft Picks
2023: F Krzyzstof Macias (Poland), Matej Kubiesa (Czechia
2022: No selection made
2021: G Tikhon Chaika (Belarus)
2020: F Vladislav Shilo (Belarus)
2019: F Ivan Kechkin (Russia)
2018: F Aliaksei Protas (Belarus)
2017: F Dominik Bokk (Germany)