Although only 16 years of age, 6’3” and 187-pound forward Adam Ruzicka was very noticeable in a top-nine role for Slovakia at the recent Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Banging his body into opponents whenever necessary, Ruzicka seemed to improve from game to game, quickly adjusting to the demands of international hockey.
Like several of his teammates, Ruzicka won’t be a draft topic until 2017, but he’s putting himself on the map for that draft already.
Hockey’s Future: You just finished off the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament here in Slovakia. What did you learn here?
Adam Ruzicka: I learned to block shots! Got a couple of welts in the process. I’ve learned to play physical, or at least how important it is to play physically. I also learned why coaches can put so much emphasis on playing responsibly in your own end and thinking defense first.
HF: What will you be doing this season?
AR: At the moment, I’m scheduled to go play for Pardubice’s U20 team in the Czech Republic. There’s also been talk about the possibility of me seeing some action in the men’s team at the pro level, so we’ll see if they feel I’m ready at some point this season.
HF: You’re a pretty big kid for your age. How do you generally describe yourself as a player?
AR: My body strength and power forward attitude have been strengths to date. My ability to cover the puck and keep my body between the puck and the opponent, especially along the boards is one of the things I excel at. I like to grab the puck off the boards and immediately bring it to the net or go to the net myself. For a teenager my size and age, I think I’m a pretty good skater.
HF: Do you have a favorite player or role model out there?
AR: It’s Jaromir Jagr. He’s been a legend as long as I’ve been alive. He’s definitely a guy I see as my idol.
HF: Any chance you’d be open to play in North America before your draft year, maybe in Canadian juniors?
AR: Anything is possible, but we’ll see how things go first with Pardubice. That’s what I’m going to concentrate on now.
HF: Is it your goal to represent Slovakia already next spring at the U18 World Championship?
AR: I think that is every player under 18 in Slovakia’s goal. It’s mine too. I plan on doing whatever is necessary to be there.
HF: You’re still two years away from your NHL Draft eligibility. Where do you want to be as a player in two years’ time?
AR: I see myself playing in North America by then, most particularly in the Canadian junior league’s somewhere. As far as the draft in 2017 is concerned, I think it will all come down to if I make it over to North America and then how I play there. I believe it’s the best stage to present yourself on in your draft year. Scouts are at every game. My play that year will be decisive.
HF: Plenty of scouts at this tournament. Did you notice them while playing?
AR: I didn’t pay attention to them. I wanted to concentrate on my play and contribute to the team’s success. That’s what being here was about.
Follow Chapin Landvogt on Twitter via @