Raiders use both import picks with Chaika future uncertain

Team Poland’s Krzysztof Macias fires a shot on goal during an 11-2 win over Korea at the 2023 Division 1 Group B U20 World Hockey Championships. Macias was selected by the Prince Albert Raiders 15th overall in the 2023 CHL Import Draft. -- IIHF photo by Michael Chwieduk/Polish Ice Hockey Federation.

The Prince Albert Raiders bolstered their roster with a pair of selections in the 2023 CHL Import Draft on Wednesday morning.

2004-born Polish forward Krzyzstof Macias, who played last season for HC Vitkovice in the Czech Republic was selected by the Raiders with the 15th overall selection. Macias posted 52 points in 44 games for Vitkovice’s U20 team including 28 goals.

2006-born Czech forward Matej Kubiesa was selected in the second round with the 75th overall selection by Prince Albert. In 29 games last season split between Sweden’s Malmo Redhawks and HC Ocelari Trinec in the Czech Republic, Kubiesa posted 15 goals and 16 assists.

“We went into this one with balance in terms of ages.” Raider general manager Curtis Hunt said about the import draft class. “We took an older, more mature player and someone we feel can step right in and contribute and that’s Krzyzstof who is a bigger stronger guy. With the second pick, (Matej) is more of a skill player in the Peardon-Ritchie-Martin age group. He is a guy who can contribute offensively, he is a guy with tremendous skill. They are both really good competitors and quality kids. It should be seamless for them to join the club.”

Throughout the season, the Raiders typically hear from agencies representing European prospects. Hunt says the Raiders do their own scouting on players after they receive interest.

“We were lucky this year with the fact that Jeff (Truitt) was with the Under 18s. He was able to watch and assess players there, so we had a list. The representation in terms of agents that do represent kids that are looking to come over, they’ll send us a list of anywhere from 2 to 7 players and then through technology, we’re able to watch the kids online and kind of put them in order how we feel they’d be able to help our club.”

Heading into the import draft on Wednesday, Prince Albert already had one import player on their roster from last season in Belarusian netminder Tikhon Chaika. CHL teams are allowed to carry a maximum of two import players on their roster at a time.

Hunt says Prince Albert selected two players because of the chance Chaika could sign a professional contract, but also did not rule out the possibility he returns to Hockeytown North this season.

“I know he has aspirations to play pro hockey, whether it’s in the KHL, ECHL or the AHL. So we’ll have to see what happens throughout the summer here in terms of if he can get himself an opportunity, if North America’s even in the cards for him. If he plays on our team, he would (take an import slot). But like I said, we don’t know. He is certainly pursuing an opportunity to play abroad. So, we just protect the organization by drafting two players.”

Macias represented Poland at the 2023 Division 1 Group B World Junior Hockey Championships where he scored seven goals and added three assists in five games. That included a four goal game against Korea in Poland’s final game of the tournament.

In a video message posted to the Prince Albert Raiders’ Facebook page, Macias said he is excited to play in Hockeytown North.

“I’m happy to be selected by this team,” he said. “I’ve heard you have a special crowd. Can’t wait to see you.”

Macias is the first Polish player selected by a WHL club since 2003, when the Vancouver Giants drafted Marcin Kolusz. The pick made news in the Polish sports world, with Polish hockey website calling it “great news for Polish hockey.”

In a story posted to the website, Macias said he’s eager to play for a club with an impressive pedigree like Prince Albert’s.

“I am certainly very happy to be given this opportunity,” Macias told “Playing against the best juniors from around the world will give me a lot and I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m very happy. I’m glad that it fell on this team, which once featured players such as Leon Draisaitl, Josh Morrisey, and Mike Modano. This is only a step in the right direction. There is still a lot of work ahead of me, but I can’t wait to see how everything will look like there.”

Kubiesa, a 16-year-old from Frydek-Mistek, Czechia, split the 2022-23 season between two countries. He suited up for 17 games with the Malmo Redhawks J18 program in Sweden, posting eight goals and seven assists. He then spent 12 games with the HC Ocelari Trinec U17 club in Czechia, finishing with seven goals and nine assists.

Kubiesa had even better numbers in the post-season, putting up 13 goals and 10 assists in 14 playoff games. He also represented Czechia at the U17 World Hockey Challenge where he had an assist in six games.

“It is an honour to be selected by this special organization,” Kubiesa said in a video posted to the Raiders’ Facebook page. “I’m really excited.”

This is the first time the Raiders have selected a player in the import draft since 2021 when they took goaltender Tikhon Chaika.

The Wenatchee Wild made history with their first import draft pick by selecting Japanese prospect Kenta Isogai 60th overall. Isogai is the first Japanese player to ever be picked in the import draft. He spent last season with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms.

The WHL clubs chose players who were selected in the 2023 NHL draft. The Kelowna Rockets picked LW Jakub Stanci (St. Louis Blues) 12th overall. The Calgary Hitmen chose D Axel Hurtig (Calgary Flames) 33rd overall. The Seattle Thunderbirds tookJesse Kiiskinen (Nashville Predators) 59th overall.

While not an NHL draft pick, Swiss goaltender Ewan Huet has an NHL pedigree. He is the son of former Montreal Canadians goaltender Cristobal Huet. Ewan was picked 36th overall by the Regina Pats.

The Edmonton Oil Kings were the first WHL club on the board, selecting third overall. They chose Czech RW Adam Jecho.

Training camp for the Prince Albert Raiders opens on Sept. 1.