Blue Jackets Draft Pick Samuel Knazko, 19, Named To Slovak Olympic Team

By Dan Dukart on January 20, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman and CBJ prospect Samuel Knazko named to Slovak Olympic roster

Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick Samuel Knazko has been named to the Slovak Olympic team.

Knazko, a 19-year old defenseman, is currently playing in North America with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Despite his young age, he's long been a fixture for Team Slovakia, having twice been named captain of their World Junior Championship U20 team (which was started and canceled mid-way through just a few weeks ago). He's also represented Slovakia on the men's side, skating in the World Championships last summer.

Taken with the 78th pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Knazko appears to be on the path towards professional hockey. The Blue Jackets have already signed the player, who was acquired in the Josh Anderson-Max Domi trade, to his entry-level contract. Through eight games this year with Seattle, the 2020 CHL Import Draft first-rounder has tallied a goal and two assists.

The Blue Jackets will have a keen eye on Slovakia's play, but not only because of Knazko. 

Two of the top prospects in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft, Šimon Nemec and Juraj Slafkovský, are also playing for Team Slovakia. The Athletic's Corey Pronman rated them #5 and #6 in his recent midseason ranking of the top 32 draft-eligible prospects. And with the Blue Jackets set to have two possible lottery picks in the draft, there's a fair chance that Blue Jackets fans will become familiar with one (or both!?) of those names in the not-so-distant future. 

Team Slovakia will play in Group C of the Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey tournament alongside Finland, Latvia, and Sweden, with their first game set for Feb 10.