Penguins Covet Two Czechs At Draft

By Richard A. Plisco
The Pittsburgh Penguins draft time strategy has been announced by General Mannager Craig Patrick and as usual it remains cliche. Patrick has said that the team will select the best player available regardless of position or team needs. However, insiders have a different notion as to which direction Patrick may lean.

Seven of Pittsburgh’s last eleven first round selections have been Europeans. Four of that group have been Czech. That is why many believe that with a Czech head coach and definitive pattern for picking Euro bred talent, the Pens will be seeking one of the following prospects.

A glaring lack of offense from the blue line lead some to speculate that the Pens will be looking at mobile defenseman Lukas Krojicek. Lukas, a 6’1″ 180lbs. rear guard, hails from Prostajov in the Czech Republic. The 18 year old spent the 00-01 season with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes where he compiled 8 goals and 27 assists in 61 matches. He posted 27 points in 53 games for his junior club in 99-00.

If Lukas is unavailable at the time of Pittsburgh’s pick, look for them to chase Pardubice, Czech Republic native Ales Hemsky. The 5’11” 173lbs. right wing notched 36 goals for the QMJHL’s Hull Olympiques last season. He also managed 64 assists in his 68 appearances. Scouts have noted that the winger is not that tough, but he possesses lots of scoring prowess. Some go as far as saying that he exhibits several traits similar to his NHL idol, Jaromir Jagr.

Although Patrick holds true to form and claims that his staff have no clear cut favorites going into the draft, it can be speculated that these two men will most definitely be names on the table.