Kristians Rubins succeeds in entering the NHL and Jani Jaks in the AHL.

IIHF World Juniors Championship 2017, Relegations Game 2, Centre Bell, Montreal
Kristians Rubins #5, Kristian Vesalainen #34, © Robanser

Last week, Latvian players made very good changes to the American professional leagues. The biggest leap was made by Kristians Rubins. The 22-year-old defender moved to the Toronto Maple Leafs after playing for the AHL team at Toronto Marlies over the past two years.

IIHF U20 World Championship Div I Group A, Albert Schultz-Eishalle
LAT – GER: Goal Latvia RUBINS Kristians #25, DZIERKALS Martins #10
Andreas Robanser/

Kristians comes from the capital city of Riga from Prizma Riga. At the age of 17, he moved to Sweden to VIK Västeras and played alternately in the U18 and U20. He also played 14 games in the senior team. For the 2016-17 season, Kristians went to the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. With the Tigers, he reached the play-offs twice in a row. In 2018-19, the Maple Leafs organization brought him to the Marlies in the AHL. This season Kristinas commuted between AHL and ECHL at Newfoundland Growlers. He left a very good impression on those responsible and was awarded a two-year contract.

His career in the Latvian national team started in the U16 and played continuously up to the U20. During this time Kristians played at 5 world championships. In 2015 Kristians made his debut in the Latvian A team and also took part in the 2018 World Cup in Denmark.

Eishalle Graz Liebenau, LAT – BLR
Denijs Romanovskis #1, Pauls Svars #15 Janis Jaks, Evgeniy Astankov #15
© Robanser

With Janis Jaks, a second, young Latvian player becomes a professional. The 24-year-old defender was brought into the AHL team at Bakersfield Condors by the Edmonton Oilers NHL organization.

Like his compatriot, Rubins, Janis also comes from Riga – first at SK Riga and then at HK Riga. 2014-15 Janis moved overseas to Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). After only two games, he went to league competitor Minnesota Wilderness. After two years, he received a scholarship to study at the American Int. College (NCAA). In the past four years he has performed well and has now been promoted to the second highest professional league in the United States.

Janis was a fixed point for the Latvian nationality. He played with the U18 and U20 at three world championships. Janis made his debut for the A-Team in 2014 and was called up for two World Championships (2017 and 2019).

The third regular player to have a new club next season is Edgars Homjakovs. The 24-year-old center from Liepaja has played in leagues in the USA with Lake Tahoe Blue (WSHL), France and most recently in Germany. The last season Edgars played with “ERC Sonthofen” in the 3rd league and changes to the “Blue Devils Weiden”, also third German league.