Another PHL season has come to a close. GKS Katowice has now accomplished back-to-back championships. Undoubtedly, some imports have played a significant role in helping the green and yellow achieve consecutive seasons on top. Three imports were a part of both Championship teams for Katowice as David Lebek, Joona Monto, and Matias Lehtonen contributed to both squads. Today I wanted to look at all the imports across the league and name who was the import MVP of each PHL club. We will not be counting imports that play with a Polish passport as they no longer count towards import status in the league.
Cracovia Krakow: Roman Rác (F) – Slovakia
No stranger to the PHL, Slovakian Roman Rác has now played in Poland for parts of the past four seasons. This year might have been his best in his first year with Cracovia. The 32-year-old posted a new career high in regular season points with 39 (13G-26A-39PTS) in 40 games. His production turned up another click in the playoffs, where he scored eight goals and assisted on six. This gave him 53 points on the year, the second most among imports and sixth among all skaters. While Cracovia was a team not short on offensive fire power, Rác’s career year sticks out and helps push him above two other very impressive imports.
Honorable Mention: Jiří Gula (D) & Rok Stojanovic (G)
Unia Oswiecim: Kevin Lindskoug (G) – Sweden
Many imports in Poland with the most impact tend to be goalies, which is the most critical position in the offense-heavy league. Losing your starting goalie can derail your whole season as you look for who is to start between the pipes next. Oswiecim faced that problem when Linus Lundin went down after just a handful of games. Kevin Lindskoug, already playing in Poland with Podhale, came over to save Oswiecim’s season. He finished the year with an impressive .920 save percentage in 24 regular season games. His playoff performance was crucial for Unia Oswiecim taking home the bronze medal this year.
Honorable Mention: Filipp Pangelov-Yuldashev (D) & Teddy Da Costa (F)
GKS Tychy: Tomáš Fučík (G) – Czechia
Fučík has long been, in my opinion, the best import goalie in the PHL, and he made our all-time import PHL squad that we posted awhile ago. Unsurprisingly, he continued that success behind the GKS Tyhcy lineup this year. He finished with the best save percentage among all goalies for the regular season with an outstanding .936 SV% and also led with a goals against average of 1.96. While his playoff performance wasn’t as strong, he still had the best season of any goalie.
Honorable Mention: Jean Dupuy (F) & Alexander Younan (D)
GKS Katowice: Brandon Magee (F) – Canada
Brandon Magee was one of the imports we were most excited to see this year. There is no doubt that Magee delivered on that hype and was a fascinating player who brought a strong forecheck and production. He finished third in the regular season scoring among all skaters with 45 points (19G-26A-45PTS) in 35 games. He added another 12 points (3G-9A-12PTS) in the 18 playoff games helping GKS Katowice to their second PHL championship. His overall total of 57 points led all imports in scoring, which makes him the easy pick here.
Honorable Mention: Hampus Olsson (F) & Matias Lehtonen (F)
JKH GKS Jastrzebie: Mark Kaleinikovas (F) – Luthuania
This was a reloading year for Jastrzebie, and one of the imports they took a bet on a lot of baltic talent including Lithuanian Mark Kaleinikovas. He ended up as the best of those bets, in my opinion. The 24-year-old led the team in overall scoring with 40 points (21G-19A-40PTS) in 42 games. Jastrzebie struggled at times to find an offensive identity, and his 21 goals were eight more than any other player on the club. That strong performance is already attracting interest from other clubs.
Honorable Mention: Bence Bálizs (G) & Eduards Hugo Jansons (D)
STS Sanok: Kalle Valtola (D) – Finland
Kalle Valtola has had a crazy two seasons in the PHL. The offensive defenseman is an elite powerplay QB, but that didn’t show up in his first year with GKS Katowice. In the green and yellow he only recorded eight points in 36 games. In the offseason, he moved over to Sanok, and his production exploded. In 44 games, the Finnish defensemen recorded 38 points (9G-29A-38PTS). This led all defensemen in points both for the regular season and the overall year. The defender is staying in Poland for the 2023-24 season, as he signed a deal with Unia Oswiecim.
Honorable Mention: Ville Heikkinen (F) & Dominik Salama (G)
KH Torun: Illia Korenchuk (F) – Ukraine
For years KH Torun has been able to find diamonds in the rough that become top scorers in the PHL. Due to the war in the country, we saw a lot of Ukrainian talent cross into the PHL this year with Torun trying out a few. The best this year was Illia Korenchuk by a large margin. The veteran three-time Ukraine champion finished as one of the top scorers in the regular season. In 40 games, he scored 20 goals and assisted on 21. His 41 points were the fifth most among all skaters in the regular season, while his 21 goals were just one behind Krystian Dziubinski for the league lead. With Torun only scoring 113 goals this year, he made up for 18.5% of the team’s total goals.
Honorable Mention: Elias Elomaa (F) & Edmunds Augstkalns (D)
Zaglebie Sosnowiec: Patrik Spěšný (G) – Czechia
It is year number six for Patrik Spěšný, an impressive achievement for an import in Poland. In fact, he now sits second among import goalies in all-time games played. Last year with Sanok was undoubtedly the Czech goalie’s worst season in the PHL, and he was relegated to backup duties to end the year. This year with Sosnowiec, he was able to revive his PHL career. In 35 games, Spěšný recorded a .921 SV%, the second-best save percentage of his PHL career. The playoffs were rough, but he remains one of the better PHL goalies.
Honorable Mention: Vitali Andreykiv (D) & Christian Blomqvist (F)
Podhale Nowy Targ – Olexei Vorona (F) – Ukraine
This was a rough season for Podhale Nowy Targ, and I think we would all be better served just forgetting about it. There was one shining light in Ukrainian forward Olexei Vorona. The 25-year-old forward posted 24 points (9G-15-24PTS) in 36 games during his time with the team. His 24 points led the struggling club in points by seven. He is a bright spot on the team and will now represent his native country at the upcoming World Championships.
Honorable Mention: Alex Maunula (F) & Ondřej Volráb (D)
All Import Team
Forwards: Brandon Magee (GKS Katowice) – Roman Rác (Cracovia Krakow) – Illia Korenchuk (KH Torun)
Defensemen: Kalle Valtola (STS Sanok) – Jiří Gula (Cracovia Krakow)
Goalie: Tomáš Fučík (GKS Tychy)
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