The Seattle Thunderbirds selected a defenseman during Tuesday morning’s CHL Import Draft and will begin the process of convincing him to sign with the team.

With the 21st pick in the first round, Seattle nabbed Slovak defenseman Samuel Knazko, a player who was selected by the Vancouver Giants during last year’s draft but chose not to play in the WHL.

“We like his frame and he’s an offensive defenseman that will help us on the power play,” Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge said. “He’s going to add something to our defense that we don’t have an abundance of yet. He’s going to fit with the group we’ve already assembled.”

After turning down an offer to join Vancouver last season, Knazko stayed in Europe and played for TPS Turko in the Finnish Jr A league. In 32 games he scored six goals while adding 16 assists for 22 points. The six-foot, 191-pound left-handed shot also represented Slovakia internationally, appearing in five games at the World Juniors this past season and in back-to-back Hlinka-Gretzky tournaments.

He ended the season ranked 42nd among European skaters by NHL’s Central Scouting Service for the 2020 NHL Draft. La Forge and the Thunderbirds will have to work on recruiting him to come over for the upcoming season.

“We’re going to have those conversations,” La Forge said. “We’re going to present our development plan and hopefully he agrees to come this year. I don’t think there’s a guarantee with anyone in this climate.”

With the uncertainty surrounding the return of hockey due to the COVID-19 disease, CHL teams will have to deal with unprecedented hurdles in convincing European players to come play in North America. There are questions around travel and it is unknown when European leagues will begin play, when the NHL Draft is going to happen, or when the …read more

Source:: sports.MyNorthwest.com – Sports

      

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