Saint John had the first overall pick in this year's draft and selected highly touted Slovakian forward Maxim Cajkovic. Then, with the 61st selection, the Sea Dogs added another forward, picking Filip Prikryl of the Czech Republic.
“Our team philosophy with import spots is that they are used for elite goal scoring and point producing top six forwards,” said Sea Dogs president and general manager Trevor Georgie. “That is going to be the composition we strive for year after year, especially as we build for our next championship.”
Both are 17 and are eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Cajkovic is projected to be a first round pick.
“He has a great toolbox, he’s a smart player, and he will grow with our young talented nucleus,” said Georgie about Cajkovic. “He is excited to be a Sea Dog. He can’t wait to get here and will be very motivated in his NHL Draft year. He is very proud to wear our jersey and wants to be part of what is happening here in Saint John.”
Cajkovic comes to Saint John after spending this past season with the Malmo Redhawks junior program in Sweden (this is a feat in itself as very few players from Sweden make the switch to the CHL). He put up exceptional numbers last year, recording 24 goals in 38 games between the under-18 and under-20 teams.Catching up to the import draft, 2 great picks by Saint John with Cajkovic and Prikryl. Cajkovic is a potential top 10 pick for 2019 and was terrific at the U-18 in April. Prykril was one of the top fwd on the Czech U-17 team this year and also played at the u18 5nations in Feb.— Jérôme Bérubé (@Jerome_Berube) June 28, 2018
The last time the Sea Dogs picked first in the Import Draft was in 2009 when they selected a 17-year-old Stanislav Galiev - who, as we all know, went on to have a decent Sea Dogs career.
Prikryl spent last season between the under-18 and under-20 teams with HC Plzen. He had seven goals and 21 assists in 14 games with the U-18 squad and four goals and 21 assists in 26 games with the U-20 team.
“We are very pleased where we got him and love his skill set,” said Georgie. “He is a young player with lots of high end tools.”
In a January 2018 article, the Sporting News called Prikyl the fifth best player available in this year's Import Draft
“Highly skilled centre [that] provides leadership and is a scoring threat whenever he is on the ice," said ISS Hockey scouting director Dennis MacInnis. "Was a standout player on a team that could not seem to get it going during World Under-17 Challenge. High hockey IQ and always seems to be in the right place. Can play the point on the power play. Top prospect for 2018 CHL Import Draft with potential to develop into pro prospect.”
Now the big question is: who is coming and who is going? Cajkovic seems like a lock, meaning the final import spot will come down to Prikyl and returning import Ostap Safin. Trading Safin to a contending team and replacing him with a younger forward seems like the ideal option, but dealing imports is easier said than done. Saint John has some time to work things out, at least.