Richard Stehlik, Vladislav Balaz, Jaroslav Halak, Michal Korenko and Jakub Bundil.

All Slovakian, and all Lewiston Maineiacs at one time in the last four seasons.

And if the best available European player at No. 18 in today’s Canadian Hockey League Import Draft is Slovakian, expect the Maineiacs to add another name to this list.

“We’re looking for the best possible player we can get,” Maineiacs’ acting General Manager Ed Harding said. “I have a list of five or six names right now. There are some ‘D’ on there, there are some forwards. I can tell you that there are no goalies on there.”

The only goalie Lewiston had ever selected in this draft in the past was Halak, who will be battling for time with the Montreal Canadiens this fall. This year, though, with Jonathan Bernier and Peter Delmas both expected to return, the needs are elsewhere.

This year’s Import Draft is a new experience for Harding, who is at the helm while the team searches for a new head coach and GM.

“I was not involved in any of this in the past,” Harding said. “One thing that (Maineiacs’ majority owner) Mark Just and I talked about in the past was for me to take a more active role in the Europeans we had on the team.”

Harding agreed, and the organization has taken a new approach to finding import players this summer.

“In my opinion, we were doing it the wrong way,” Harding said. “We were relying on agents. They certainly have a part, and we have to talk to the agents in order to get their players released, but I thought that the best procedure, if we could not see them play first-hand, then we needed to rely on the guys that do know, and those are the NHL scouts.”

Each team in the Canadian Hockey League – all 60 of them – is allowed two non-North-American players on their roster. Each team is allowed two selections per year in a draft. They are ranked in reverse order of finish within their league, and then each of the three leagues – The Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – alternate picks. This year, the QMJHL is third in line, so the first league selection is at No. 3. The sixth league selection, originally belonging to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and acquired by Lewiston in a trade, is at No. 18.

Lewiston also has its own pick, last in the QMJHL, at No. 54.

The plan going into today’s draft, though, is to use only one.

“At this point, no, we’re not planning to use them both,” Harding said. “We are definitely going to use the No. 18 overall.”

With Michal Korenko not returning to the Maineiacs next season, the use of one appears to imply that the team is happy enough with forward Jakub Bundil to invite him back as a 19-year-old next season.

“Right now, I’m not planning on using both,” Harding said. “Something may change … we don’t know. Personally, I like Jakub Bundil. I think he can bring a lot to the table.”

By the end of the day today, the Maineiacs will welcome yet another member to the team as they prepare a defense of their President’s Cup title.

“I’m pretty comfortable with the guys on our list,” Harding said. “I’ve not only heard about them from one guy, but from four or five guys. Now, it’s waiting to see whether the pieces fall into place.”


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