The Red Deer Rebels selected Vojtech Port with the 49th pick in the 2022 CHL Import Draft. (Submitted photo/ HC Sparta)

The Red Deer Rebels selected Vojtech Port with the 49th pick in the 2022 CHL Import Draft. (Submitted photo/ HC Sparta)

‘A really good fit:’ Red Deer Rebels satisfied with CHL Import selection

Port will be in training camp in September

In a draft that can have some uncertainty, the Red Deer Rebels found themselves a player with a desire to play in Red Deer.

With the 49th pick in the 2022 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, the Rebels selected Czech defenceman Vojtech Port.

The soon-to-be 17-year-old defenceman scored three goals and 19 assists in 19 games HC Sparta Praha U17 last season. He also played 21 games with HC Sparta Praha U20 and played nine games for Czechia’s National Under-17 team.

Rebels assistant general manager Shaun Sutter said Port, who stands six feet two inches tall and 175 pounds, has a good head on his shoulders and is a lanky player who can move the puck well. This is based on watching video of his play and information gathered on him from scouts.

“I don’t know how many of the players picked today will actually be playing in the CHL next year but Vojtech really wanted to play in Red Deer. We thought he was a quality player and he will be here on Sept. 1 for the beginning of training camp so we saw it as a really good fit,” Sutter said.

The NHL Draft, which is on July 7 usually takes place before the CHL Import Draft leaving teams unsure of whether these European players have a desire to play in North America.

Sutter added they couldn’t take a chance on a player that didn’t want to be with the franchise and believe Port will be a quality player in the Western Hockey League.

“We were obviously hoping that Vojtech would be there when we picked, he was a target of ours. Basically the front half of the draft, it was dominated by Czech and Slovak players and many of the players picked to this point as of today aren’t planning to come to the CHL. I think there were teams that took a lot of flyers, where we know Vojtech was a quality player and that he would come to play for us so we were thrilled to select him,” Sutter said.

Each team in the CHL gets two slots on their roster for import players. Red Deer will have Czech forward Frantisek Formanek who was selected 14th overall in 2021 and are permitted to have one more imported player.

That could potentially be Port but could also be Finnish defenceman Christoffer Sedoff who was selected 25th overall in 2019 and played with Red Deer this season. Sedoff turned 20 years old in February and has one more season of junior eligibility unless he gets the opportunity to play professional hockey.

Sutter said in selecting Port the goal is for him to wear a Rebels jersey this season. Sedoff, just like Ben King, excelled in the WHL last season and the Rebels expect them to be playing in the American Hockey League next season but if they were to come back to the team Sutter said they will have decisions to make.

“Until that point, those players return to our team we have to plan like they’re graduating to play in their NHL team system,” Sutter said.

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