Vaclav Nedorost – an avalanche of talent

By Robert Neuhauser

It looks like the Czech great hockey prospect Vaclav Nedorost became a wrong surname. Nedorost,
meaning non-grown in Czech, has no signs of a small frame or a small talent. In fact, this
center is the future star of the Colorado Avalanche…
No doubt, Joe Sakic will depart or hang his skates sometimes. So will Peter Forsberg. After that
it’ll be time for Vaclav Nedorost to take over as the No.1 center for the Avs. Pierre Lacroix
knows which players are among the Colorado prospects and he can count on Vaclav already by this
Vaclav started playing hockey as a small kid for Ceske Budejovice when he was five. He followed
the footsteps of his one year older brother David. The Nedorost guys went together to the rink
and competed in every hockey skill. Of course younger Vaclav wanted to skate faster, shoot more
accurate and be stronger than his older brother. And so they competed, besides the coaches
immediately recognized what a natural talent do these two have. This lasted till Vaclav was
nine. That year David suffered a very serious injury which prevented him from playing hockey
for years till he was eligible to play in the midget league. So Vaclav went to the rink alone.
Soon he played against guys older than him and he was able to dominate also at this level.
Vaclav wasn’t a kid who would love sitting at home and learning, instead of it he played sports.
Till midget age he played soccer besides hockey and is an accomplished player.

He is also a
huge NHL fan who is interested in the theoretical part of hockey. He likes the nature of south
Bohemia and strengthtened his legs while riding his bike in that beautiful part of the Czech
Republic. Playing hockey was easy for him as riding a bike. Vaclav found out that the play
in his own end is equally important like scoring goals and he learned how to be responsible
defensively. As one of the best all-round centers in the Czech Republic Vaclav was of course
selected to play for the Under-16 team before the 1997-98 season. That year the scouts could
watch him at the international scene for the first time. They saw a sized center playing equally
well at both ends of the ice, a good forechecker great at reading plays, always involved in the
games. Vaclav is an exceptional puckhandler who can make plays at high speed. In the 1997-98 season,
when he was reunited with his brother in the midgets of Ceske Budejovice Vaclav recorded 53
points for 30 goals and 23 assists. Brother David was even more succesfull and finished third
in midget league scoring, behind 2000 WJC champions Lukas Havel and Radim Vrbata.

The next
season was Vaclav the captain of the Budejovice midget team. It is obvious that he doesn’t like to
yell at the teammates, he wants to stay calm and leads by example, which makes him an efficient
captain. That season Vaclav played his first game in the Extraleague and scored 2 assists in
7 games. The two points came in a home game, which was the first where Vaclav played in front
of TV cameras. And he did what he can best – created scoring chances.

The next season was Vaclav a legitimate member of the Ceske Budejovice senior team and played
well no matter if the game was televised or not. He recorded 14 points for 8 goals and 6
assists in 38 regular season games and was scoreless in 3 playoff games when Ceske Budejovice
were swept by Vsetin. Vaclav played regularly as the third line center but the biggest success
was the WJC. The youngest member of the winning Czech team played a simple game, no mistakes
and defense first. But this impressed the NHL scouts enough to place him first in the 2000
CSB mid-term rankings, ahead of highly touted Slovak prospect Marian Gaborik. Vaclav recorded
one assist at the WJC and this was expected to change at the Under-18 WJC. Vaclav was elected
captain and NHL scouts could compare him to Gaborik, playing for Slovakia. Vaclav was the
leading scorer of the Czech team with five points (4 goals + 1 assist), but the sixth place was
a disappointment. Although the Czechs are succesfull at the WJC, they still haven’t won the
Under-18 WJC since the break of Czechoslovakia. As usual, the Finnish squad captured the
title. Vaclav could rest a bit and look forward to the NHL Entry Draft. He slipped in the
CSB final ranking from place 1 to place 6 (!) but was a lock to be selected in the first round.
The Avalanche gained the Carolina’s first round pick in the trade of Sandis Ozolinsh to
Carolina for Nolan Pratt and used the pick to select Vaclav Nedorost (Carolina used the
second round pick acquired from Colorado via Columbus to select another Czech, sniper Tomas
Kurka of the Plymouth Whalers).

After the glory days in Calgary Vaclav stated that he’ll stay
at least one more season at home to prepare for the NHL.
Brother David, who tried to crack the Ceske Budejovice lineup all the time Vaclav was playing
was demoted to play in the Div I league and Vaclav should be promoted to first center. He changed his
jersey number to 82, the year he was born, in the previous years when he was 16 he played
with No. 16, when he was 17 with No. 17, this time it should be something different. He played
some games with Vaclav Kral and Radek Belohlav on the first line, but the team was struggling
and Vaclav was forced to play second line center. Soon after that he got injured.

The Czech
Under-20 team was lucky that he was healthy at the end of December coming the WJC. Vaclav
played first line center and was a second-year veteran, so he knew what he should do. He
centered the top line with sniper Pavel Brendl and gritty Zdenek Blatny on wings. The Czechs
captured gold again and head coach Jaroslav Holik stated that Vaclav was the team’s MVP.
He scored 9 points for 4 goals and 5 assists and added perfect defensive play. Vaclav showed a
big improvment in his play since the Under-18 WJC and soon was selected to play for the
senior National team at the Sweden Hockey Games. Just like Martin Havlat, his way wants Vaclav
to follow. But during the practice with the Budejovice team he suffered a shoulder injury and
he could watch Sweden Hockey Games only on TV. So he concentrated on helping his team to make
the playoffs. But Ceske Budejovice were in an injury bug and a Sunday’s 5:4 loss to HC Slavia
Praha eliminated them from the playoffs. At least 2001 respectively 2003 prospects Jiri
Novotny and Milan Michalek could learn something from the guy with number 82. Because this
man has a future. The number 82 can soon be the number of his points scored for the
Colorado Avalanche…