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Riga Draft Picks S77


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The Riga Reign entered the S77 Entry Draft holding the 8th overall pick. Despite a clear organization need for defensemen entering the off-season, it became less of a pressing issue with the additions of James Rose and General Zod in trades. That left options a little more wide open for Riga with the pick, though still likely looking at a defenseman.


When the 8th overall pick came around they did make the decision to take the defenseman, though somewhat surprisingly passing up on Aurelien Moreau in order to pick Jan Hlozek instead.


I say somewhat surprisingly based on the perceived difference between Moreau and Hlozek as players currently, but we shouldn't necessarily be surprised with the direction the Reign went here. Their GM has repeatedly shown a tendency to use his picks on high upside, first-gen players who are a little less proven on draft day. Based on the returns from the S75 draft so far, that's been a good philosophy for the team, unearthing key youngsters like Cabe McJake, Addison McLaren, Justin Lose, Isau DaMoose, and Linus Zetterstrom in that draft class alone. Hlozek was a quick riser and highly-touted defenseman in this draft class who was surely going to go off the board in the middle of the first round, so the Reign made sure to get the guy they wanted.


The Reign are high on Hlozek, and are expecting him to follow in the footsteps of those S76 prospects. Hlozek and Moreau are polar opposites as players, with Hlozek more offensive than defensive and Moreau a complete shut-down guy. Hlozek is 5'11, 180 while Moreau is 6'8 240.


Hlozek put up 13 goals and 59 points last season with Saskatoon, then was the 6th overall pick in the VHLM draft to Miami, where he'll play this season before moving up to Riga in S78.


The Reign used a later pick on defensemen Jere Suominen (3rd round, 39th overall), a defenseman who profiles as a depth defenseman at the VHL level and is probably two seasons away. He scored 18 points in 72 games with Miami last year, adding 126 hits and 92 shots blocked, and will return to Miami next season and play alongside Hlozek.


Their other draft pick was used on goaltender Kuba Fleury, another Miami product who will be returning there for S77. Fleury went 4-6-2 with an .873 SV% in a backup role in Miami last season.

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