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Blades Make Two Selections in 2019 Import Draft

June 27, 2019 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Saskatoon Blades News Release

Saskatoon, Sask. - The Saskatoon Blades have added two players through the 2019 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft on Thursday morning.

Czech defenseman Libor Zabransky was taken with the Blades' first pick in the draft at 55th overall. Zabransky is a veteran 19-year-old, right-shot defender with plenty of experience in North America and on the international stage. Zabransky spent last season split between the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League and the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League. With the Rockets, Libor 2 goals, 9 points, and 32 penalty minutes in 35 outings. Then in January, Zabransky joined the Fargo Force and added 4 goals and 16 points in 30 games.

The previous year during the 2017-18 season, Zabransky appeared in all 72 regular season games with the Kelowna Rockets. In what was his rookie year, the Czech blue-liner had 2 goals, 17 helpers, and 34 penalty minutes. He also served as Czech Republic's team captain for the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

"Libor is an experienced, right-shot d-man who has played over 100 games in this league and has proven himself on the international stage as well," stated Blades' general manager Colin Priestner. "So we feel Libor can step into our lineup with very little transition and help contribute immediately."

The Blades then went back to Czech Republic for their second pick taking another defenseman, Radek Kucerik, with the 115th overall pick in the draft. The left shooting Kucerik stands at 6-foot-3, 209lbs, and played a key role as captain of his HC Kometa Brno U19 team last season. Withe Brno, Radek scored 6 goals, 17 assists, and added 28 penalty minutes in 43 contests. He also dressed in two games for Brno's pro team and represented Czech Republic at the World U17 and U18 tournaments.

Kucerik has a late birthday and will not turn 18 until December, meaning he is eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

"Radek is a big shutdown defender who plays a strong defensive game and we like that he uses his size and plays with an edge," said Priestner when describing Kucerik. "With his late birthday we've had positive feedback from NHL scouts on his draft status as a prospect for the 2020 draft, and we look forward to helping him with his development."

The Blades are thrilled to welcome Libor and Radek as well as their families to the Blades organization and the city of Saskatoon.

Last year's import players will not be returning to the Blades; Emil Malysjev will be staying in Sweden and overage forward Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen (Washington Capitals) will look to begin his professional career. The Saskatoon Blades would like to thank Kristian and Emil for their contributions and wish them all the best moving forward.

For ticket information or to inquire about becoming a Saskatoon Blades Season Member, please contact the Blades' office at 306-975-8844 or email [email protected]

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