Giants Add Speed and Creativity in CHL Import Draft

On Tuesday the Vancouver Giants added two very interesting players to their roster during the CHL Import Draft in the form of left-winger Fabian Lysell and defenceman Marko Stacha. Both are of the fast and dynamic variety and should add a new aspect to their attack if they come over to North America. So who are these new and exciting players? Let’s find out!

Fabian Lysell, LW

After being selected 30th overall in Tuesday’s CHL Import Draft, Lysell has the potential to be an impact player for the Giants in 2020-21 if he finds his way over to the west coast. His stats playing for Frolunda’s U20 team don’t scream offensive threat, but his overall package definitely does. Don’t forget, he was also a 16-year-old playing amongst 19-year-olds. He is dynamic, creative and most of all a constant offensive threat. Even though he is an undersized winger, he has a full bag of tricks to counter that supposed weakness.

Lysell has excellent speed and acceleration, a laser-accurate wrist shot, and impressive hockey sense in all zones. His defensive play will be tested more as he traverses through the competitive Western Hockey League, but with the level of hockey IQ he possesses, he should be able to pass that test with relative ease.

The Giants definitely swung for the fences with this one, as Lysell is not guaranteed to report to the team in 2020-21. However, considering the number of bodies Frolunda currently has, and the potential for a decreased role next season, he could make the jump sooner rather than later. Seeing his countryman and projected 2020 top-five pick Lucas Raymond get limited ice this past season may influence that decision as well. If he does indeed report, they will be getting a projected top-ten pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and potential game-breaker to showcase to the Giants’ faithful. Either way, he is an interesting name to keep an eye on next season.

Marko Stacha, D

Next at 90th overall, the Giants selected the smooth-skating Slovakian defenceman Marko Stacha. Unlike Lysell, he is eligible to be selected in this year’s draft. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked 105th among European skaters and THW’s own Larry Fisher has him going in the fourth round at 124th overall. In 2019-20 he played almost the entire season in the Slovakian men’s league with HK Dukla Trencin where he scored two goals and six points in 48 games. He also played for Team Slovakia in both the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Tournament and the 2020 World Junior Championship. He had an impressive showing in the WJC, as he came away with a top-three player award at the end of the tournament.

Stacha has all the tools of a modern NHL defenceman, as skating and mobility are his strongest assets. He is also not afraid to be physical in the defensive zone and join the rush when the opportunity presents itself.

Marko Stacha Slovakia Nationals
Marko Stacha, U17 Slovakia Nationals, 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament, Dec 12, 2018 (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

Stacha can play physical when necessary and will use his upper-body strength to knock on-rushing puck carriers off balance or to shove them hard into the boards. He is, however, a puck rusher by nature and will look to join the rush or activate well below the faceoff dots to keep plays alive. Stacha delivers a crisp first pass and can use his footwork to fool aggressive forecheckers, but he still is learning the ropes on how to position himself properly and defend odd-man rushes.

Steve Kournianos and Ross Martin, The Draft Analyst

All in all, if Stacha reports to the Giants, he could become a very important member of the defence core that could be losing a lot of mobility in the form of their top pairing of Bowen Byram and Alex Kannok-Leipert to the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals respectively. Barring any more moves, he could be part of the top-two pairings right off the hop.

Did the Giants Hit a Home Run?

The Giants definitely went for it when they drafted Lysell in the first round as he is not at all guaranteed to report to the team when the season hopefully gets going later this year. However, if he does, the potential for greatness is there. He is probably one of the most dynamic Swedish forwards in next year’s draft and could be a top scorer in the WHL almost immediately. He would be an exciting addition to the team and most of all his presence would bring people to Langley Events Center in a time where that means more than anything.

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As for Stacha, he is an older prospect, so he should be able to adjust to life in the WHL quicker than most. He has already played an entire season with and against men who have played in the AHL and NHL in the past, so playing against 17-20-year-olds should be no problem. He is also a very mobile two-way defenceman that will give the Giants a lot of options when deploying him. All in all, if he comes over, they will be better for it.

If both Lysell and Stacha report to the team in the Fall, the Giants will be an improved team on both offence and defence. Their focus was clearly on adding to their speed and creativity, as well as their depth on defence. Hopefully, everything goes their way and we get to see both players in a Giants’ uniform sooner rather than later. Until then, we will just have to wait and ponder the many possibilities.