the National Hockey League focus on an event, which decides about the future of all teams and
also about the future of approximately 300 young players. No wonder that the NHL scouts get
ready for this event for the whole year. After hundreds of mock drafts were made, the time for
a decision is here. The players from Europe play under the careful eye of NHL scouts from
the time they’re about 15, players who regularly attend the tournaments of junior national teams
gain most attention of course. Now I would like to have a closer look at the Czech players,
who may be selected this year. It’s almost a wonder how a country with about 10 million
people still can produce top NHL prospects every year. Just look at the NHL drafts since 1998.
Every year there were at least two Czech players selected in the first round and also the
later rounds seem to hide some Czech gems. The overage selections like Philadelphia Flyer
Roman Cechmanek also seem to be good fits to their respective teams. With the Czech triumphs
at the Under-20 WJC, the World Championships and a solid performance at the Under-18 WJC there
is no sign that the trend of drafting Czech players should change. And now finally come to the
First round prospects
Jiri Novotny Position: center Team: HC Ceske Budejovice Born: August, 12th, 1983 Height: 6'2'' Weight: 195 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 11th Euro
they should choose between R. J. Umberger and Jiri Novotny. If Jiri is still free after the
‘Canes make their choice, then other teams like the Buffalo Sabres or the Pittsburgh Penguins could call him
to the podium. The Pens would love this big hardworking center, who is developing into a
faceoff specialist. Jiri posesses lots of leadership skills (captained the Czech squad at the
Under-18 WJC) and likes to be on the ice on game-breaking situations. He isn’t a huge goalscorer
but a great playmaker. His numbers in the Extraleague weren’t that impressive (just 4 assists
in 19 games) but this was mainly only due to limited ice time. In the last game of the season
for Budejovice Jiri played first line center and scored two assists. Knocks about his skating
can also be heard, but his vision and hockey sense enables him to match this deficit. Definitely
a very good prospect who will most likely make it to the NHL. This great leader shouldn’t be
there after the Pens make their choice.
Ales Hemsky Position: right wing Team: Hull Olympiques, QMJHL Born: August, 13th, 1983 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 180 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 9th North America
I think he would be a very good fit for either the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings,
Buffalo Sabres and finally the Pittsburgh Penguins. At 6’1”, Ales can’t be labeled as diminutive,
but he has to add some muscle to make it to the NHL. He is naturally very talented, great skater,
very good stickhandling and also not afraid from the rough play. Ales won’t stick his nose into
fights, but into scoring situations. The former Pardubice junior star scored great 100 points
during his first campaign in the CHL. Not very defensive, but Ales won’t be required to play
defensively. He is there to score goals and prepare chances and he’ll do so for the team who
is going to select him.
Lukas Krajicek Position: defense Team: Peterborough Petes, OHL Born: March, 11th, 1983 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 185 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 6th North America
played for the Detroit Compuware team of the NAHL and for the Petes this season. After some
trouble with his birthdate (was listed as born November, 3rd, 1983 and so 2002 eligible) his
very good play in the second part of the season moved him up the CSB rankings to the 6th place.
Lukas isn’t as tough as a prototypical NHL defenseman should be but he is a good skater with
nice offensive instincts and good outlet passes. Likes to support the offense but also doesn’t
make horrible defensive mistakes. A reliable rearguard able to score 30 – 40 points pro season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins like the Czech guys and he could be their man if Hemsky and Novotny
will be taken before their selection. But also a nice fit for the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators
or Los Angeles Kings (with their second first round pick). Lukas is the last of the three
Czechs who probably will end as first-round selections.
Second round prospects
Tomas Plekanec Position: center Team: HC Vagnerplast Kladno Born: October, 31st, 1982 Height: 5'9'' Weight: 185 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 14th Euro
at the Under-20 WJC as the youngest player on the team and centered the third line of Kladno
during the whole season. The line of young guns was dominating for Kladno in lots of games and
Tomas was the brain of the line. A fast, extremly talented forward with great smarts can score
and pass equally well. Also knows how to delight the crowd, two of his plays competed for
the Golden DELI Helmet for the best play of the 2000-2001 Extraleague season. Great stickandler
and skater Tomas was one of the stars of the junior national teams he played for and was
outstanding at the North America trip of the Under-18 team in the 1999-2000 season, where he
scored 11 goals. Played his first game in the Extraleague at 15 and played the complete 2000-2001
season against men and not juniors. If the Sabres fail to draft a scorer in the first round,
then Tomas could be there with their first choice in the second round (32nd overall). Only
the size can prevent Tomas from being selected in the first round, but he definitely should
be taken early in the second.
Tomas Duba Position: goaltender Team: HC Sparta Praha Born: July, 2nd, 1981 Height: 6'0'' Weight: 175 lbs. Catches: left CSB rank: 1st Euro goalies Tomas is a typical late blooming goalie who helped the Czech Republic to win two consecutive World champion titles at the Under-20 WJC. Split this season between the juniors and seniors of Sparta Praha, where he played backup to Petr Briza, a Czech legend. Tomas is more a butterfly goalie with very good reflexes, plays the angles well and has a quick glove hand. He plays with solid poise and confidence and can handle the pressure quite well. Will join SaiPa Lapeenranta of the Finnish Elite league for the next season. Tomas is one of the next Czech goaltending gems who can even slip to the first round. In three years he can challenge for a backup spot in the NHL. Martin Podlesak Position: center/left wing Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL Born: September, 26th, 1982 Height: 6'6'' Weight: 200 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 38th North America
to play in North America. He spent this season playing for Tri-City Americans and Lethbridge
Hurricanes and also participated at the Top Prospects Game. Martin should work on his skating,
but he is a good faceoff player and an excellent puckhandler, who can play in traffic. Posesses
great size and isn’t afraid to throw his body around, at 220 lbs. he will he dangerous in the
NHL. Martin should develop into a puck-moving power forward, not a huge scorer but a tough
reliable player. He missed the 2000 draft only by days and this year he should be chosen
between the 15th-25th place of the second round.
Third round prospects
Tomas Plihal Positon: center/right wing Team: HC Liberec Born: March, 28th, 1983 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 185 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 18th Euro
to move up the CSB rankings and he should be taken early in the third round. Tomas split this
season between the junior and senior team of the Div I team Liberec and he impresses with
his very good skating skills and stickhandling ability. Tomas is there when you need a player
to score a goal, he has very good instincts for the game and reads the play quite well. He
has a dangerous wrist shot and also can make smart passes. Very good on the powerplay but
Tomas has to work on his consistency and at times he doesn’t seem to be very intense. He
should challenge for a spot on a Extraleague team or come over to North America after the
draft, because he looks like a solid prospect.
Daniel Volrab Position: center Team: HC Sparta Praha Born: March, 11th, 1983 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 185 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 56th Euro
is because of his mind. This naturally very talented guy disappears from the ice too many
times for a first-round prospect. Even if he had to fight mononucleosis this season, if he
were more intense, he would post better numbers. A poor performance at the Under-18 WJC, where
he was benched for the bronze medal game didn’t also help him. But when he is involved in the
game, then you see a very good skater who can prepare great chances and score important goals.
Daniel has terrific hockey sense and scores and passes equally well. He also can play defensively
when it is needed. He is solid with his stick and excells on the powerplay. Coming over to the
CHL after the draft could change his determination and make him the top prospect like he is when
it is his day.
Petr Domin Position: center Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary Born: January, 1st, 1983 Height: 6'3'' Weight: 200 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 19th Euro
isn’t afraid of the rough play and passes very well. Petr also has a powerful slapshot, which
he shoots quite often. Even if he is mobile for a big man, Petr should work on skating, he
is slow at moments. He played his first game in the Extraleague when he was 16 and he looks
like he could do well in North America. Petr played regularly for the national teams of the
1983 born guys and he should be taken late in the third round at worst. This season he played
eight games in the Extraleague and he could be ready to come over to North America in three
Fourth round prospects
Jiri Jakes Position: right wing Team: Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL Born: October, 4th, 1982 Height: 6'4'' Weight: 210 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 43rd North America
25 years ago. Jiri plays a hard-hitting game and has to further develop his skills to be
classified as an European forward. Jiri likes to fight along the boards, shoots the puck
rather than passes it and is very good in front of the opposing net, where he looks for
rebounds. Skating appears to be his biggest drawback, he has to work on it. His stickhandling
could also be better, but Jiri has a booming shot, which he presented at the CHL Top Prospects
Skills Competition, where he finished third in this event with 94.8 mph. His lack of typical
Euro skills will probably cost him a spot in the second or third round, but Jiri is suited
for North American hockey and can succeed or fail in the NHL.
Tomas Mojzis Position: defenseman Team: Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL Born: May, 2nd, 1982 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 186 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 46th North America
happen in 2001. The transition to the WHL was a very good decision for Tomas, which helped
him a lot. He improved quite a lot to be labeled as a serious prospect. Played for the Czech
Republic at the 2000 Under-18 WJC. Tomas is a good puck-moving defenseman who can produce
some offense as well. Plays a solid positional play with good vision and hockey sense, but
could be more aggresive and tougher. Tomas doesn’t shy from a physical contact, but his
aggresivness could bring his game to another level if it would be improved. However a good
pick in the fourth round which can turn out to be a steal.
Petr Puncochar Position: defenseman Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary Born: June, 8th, 1983 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 200 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 45th Euro
year he was a member of the second all-star team. Petr is a player who played already some
games in the Czech Extraleague and plays a very good all-round game. Petr plays offensively
and defensively equally well, skates good, can read the play well and also can contribute
offensively. Petr is very dangerous on the powerplay and shoots the puck quite accurate.
Already well built at 200 lbs., Petr could only add one or two inches to be a great defenseman.
He doesn’t seem to have any glaring weaknesses and is underrated by the CSB in my opinion.
Later rounds prospects
Frantisek Lukes Position: left wing Team: Toronto St.Michael's Majors, OHL Born: September, 25th, 1982 Height: 5'9'' Weight: 165 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 112th North America
had a solid finish to hope for a chance to be drafted. Frantisek was one of the best scorers
of the Czech junior national team consisting of 1982 born players along with Tomas Plekanec.
Frankie also has nearly the same size as the diminutive Plekanec. Frantisek is a very fast
forward with good acceleration and a nice scoring touch. He can fire an accurate wrist shot
but could work on his slapshot more. You won’t see a tough type of player in Frantisek, but
this is not required from a smallish player. Frankie relies on his speed and hockey smarts,
which he developed in the famed “factory for forwards” in Litvinov back home in the Czech
Republic. However, his smallish stature will keep him from being selected earlier than in the
fifth round. He is no tough Derek Roy, but a finesse winger.
Miroslav Blatak Position: defenseman Team: HC Continental Zlin Born: May, 25th, 1982 Height: 5'11'' Weight: 175 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 41st Euro
Miroslav isn’t a hard-hitting player, he more relies on his smarts, positional play and good
reading of games to break up the plays of the oppostion. Once he has done so, he is able to
carry the puck to the offensive zone and pass it to the forwards. Miroslav could add some
toughness, but he is still a solid skater with very good puckhandling skills. He isn’t a pure
offensive defenseman, but joins the rush quite often. Also a good passer, Miroslav played
8 games in the Extraleague for his club, Zlin. If a team would want a solid defenseman who
can produce some offense, they could look for Miroslav Blatak in the later rounds.
Martin Kasik Position: left wing Team: HC Sparta Praha Born: January, 28th, 1983 Height: 6'2'' Weight: 175 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 78th Euro
in the NHL. Martin dropped 63 places in the CSB rankings and this is mainly because of his
bad play in the second half of the season and that he doesn’t seem always interested in the
games. Martin isn’t a goalscorer, he tries to make plays and be responsible defensively.
A big man, Martin is hard to get knocked off the puck but he could handle it better. Also
his play along the boards needs to be more aggresive if he wants to succeed in North America.
Martin is a project and it is questionable if some team will find him worth a late round gamble.
Jan Platil Position: defenseman Team: Barrie Colts, OHL Born: February, 9th, 1983 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 195 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 104th North America
was his first in the OHL and he had to adjust to another style of play. Jan still remained
a tough aggresive defenseman who likes to throw hard bodychecks and punish the opposing
forwards who appear in his zone. Jan also has good passing skills and a solid shot. But he
has some problems with consistency and he sometimes makes mistakes in the defensive zone.
His play at the Under-18 WJC wasn’t a stellar performance, but I think that some team should
try on Jan as he is a tough cookie with good offensive instincts, which can be used on the
Zbynek Novak Position: left wing Team: HC Slavia Praha Born: July, 23rd, 1983 Height: 6'2'' Weight: 195 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 72nd Euro
WJC. Zbynek’s play didn’t got noticed at times, but he played well as a defensive forward.
He has very good size, skates quite well for a big man, even if his skating could still be
improved and likes to shoot the puck once he has it on his stick. He has a good shooting
arsenal and is tough to get knocked off the puck. His problem seems to be that he sometimes
doesn’t seem to read the play terribly well and sometimes doesn’t make great passes. If this
draft will be stocked with overaged players, then Zbynek could find himself undrafted, if
not, then some team could choose this sized left winger, who excells at the defensive side
of his play.
Frantisek Bakrlik Position: right wing Team: Barrie Colts, OHL Born: June, 2nd, 1983 Height: 6'2'' Weight: 200 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 158th North America
he dominated the midget league with his scoring touch, but his scoring tailed off a bit
with the Colts. That’s logic, because he didn’t see so much ice time, but it is doubtful if
Frankie will be drafted this year. He has the size to be very good along the boards, but he has
to work on it more to make his size to his advantage. Frankie is a solid stickhandler who
could pass the puck more. He also has a good shooting arsenal and can shoot quite accurate, but
could skate better, even if his skating isn’t awful. Frankie is still a project who isn’t a lock
to be selected this year.
Jan Rehor Position: right wing Team: HC Ceske Budejovice Born: April, 30th, 1983 Height: 6'0'' Weight: 180 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 53rd Euro
enough ice time for his offensive rides. Jan is a very good skater and stickhandler who
likes to have the puck on his stick. At this point he has some tendences to overhandle the
puck instead of shooting it right on the net. Jan is a smart player with very good offensive
instincts, he excells at one-on-one situations and knows how to play in traffic. His defensive
play seems to be a drawback, Jan doesn’t look like a defensive player and sometimes doesn’t
care about the defensive side of his play. But he is a fast skilled winger who would be
worth a late round selection.
Tomas Micka Position: left wing Team: HC Slavia Praha Born: June, 7th, 1983 Height: 6'2'' Weight: 175 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 117th Euro
a guy who gives everything to the team’s success. You won’t see him in the spotlight as a great
goalscorer, but he works a lot for those who score goals. Tomas does little things well, he
is good at forechecking and backchecking, fights for the puck along the boards, goes in front
of the net and is very responsible defensively. A member of the Czech team at the Under-18 WJC,
Tomas dropped in the CSB rankings in the second part of the season, but he won’t be a goalscorer
ever. He’ll be a guy that is needed on every team that thinks of success. The problem is that
two or three guys of this character are enough on a team. Tomas isn’t blessed with top-notch
skills, he is an average skater and stickhandler and his chances to hear his name selected
aren’t too high.
Zbynek Michalek Position: defenseman Team: Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL Born: December, 23rd, 1982 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 175 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 90th North America
the CHL with the Cataractes with another Czech, forward Radim Vrbata. Zbynek showed signs of
steady improvment through the course of the season. He plays a solid defensively responsible
game with minimum of mistakes. He is hard enough to succeed in North American hockey, isn’t
afraid of the rough play and with increased playing time his play got better and better as
he adjusted to another style of play. Zbynek isn’t an offensive defenseman even if his passes
are quite solid and accurate, but he prefers his defensive duties. He takes care of his own
end first and posesses good skating skills to keep the play in front of him. He had a good
season in the Q and I think that some team should try on this player as he can develop into
a very good defensive defenseman.
Jan Holub Position: defenseman Team: HC Liberec Born: May, 3rd, 1983 Height: 6'3'' Weight: 185 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 38th Euro
to move into the CSB final rankings, exactly the same way as by Ottawa Senators’ Karel Rachunek,
Karel didn’t play a lot in his season with the Under-18 team but the Sens picked him with their
ninth round choice in 1997 and now he is in the NHL. Jan would surely like to follow his
footsteps and he really could. He is a big, tough defenseman with good defensive skills but
a low offensive upside. He could support the offense more and he is no puck rushing defenseman.
A stay-at-home guy, Jan likes to use his size to keep the opposition out of his zone. He has
to further develop his skating skills because an increased mobility would bring his game to
an upper level. Jan posesses a hard shot, but he could use it more. To sum up, Jan is still raw
but could develop into a tough reliable defensive blueliner. An eighth or ninth round pick would
surely be worth.
Martin Soucek Position: defenseman Team: SK Horacka Slavia Trebic Born: May, 15th, 1983 Height: 5'11'' Weight: 180 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 76th Euro
the second half of the season with the senior team of Trebic in the Div I league. Also played
at the Under-18 WJC. Martin is a calm guy who doesn’t let the problems bother him and so
looks his play on the ice. When the play is too wild and the coach needs somebody who would
hold the puck a bit to make the play more calm, then Martin is the correct guy. Plays a very
good positional game, reads the plays well and is at the right place in the right moment very
often. Martin isn’t too big so his physical play suffers a bit but he relies on his positional
play. But if there is a chance to throw a hit, Martin will use it. His offensive upside seems
to be quite low, Martin doesn’t like to make outlet passes or carry the puck deep into the
opposing zone. He has to develop his offensive side but his defensive play is very good.
But his lack of size may cause that he’ll be overlooked at the draft.
Lukas Dobry Position: right wing Team: HC Continental Zlin Born: April, 15th, 1983 Height: 6'2'' Weight: 170 lbs. Shoots: R CSB rank: 66th Euro
nothing in his arsenal is really top notch. He is an intense forward who can score goals
as well as play defensively when the situation needs it. Right now his problem seems to be
his lack of muscle, at 170 lbs. he is quite skinny. Lukas is no tough guy, he is more a
finesse forward who can also play a grinder role. A good skater for his height, Lukas also
has a nice accurate wrist shot. His hockey sense is quite good and so is his vision and
reading plays. But like I said, nothing of it is really special. Lukas doesn’t seem to be
a potentional superstar but an above average player.
Lukas Chmelir Position: defenseman Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary Born: April, 15th, 1983 Height: 5'11'' Weight: 190 lbs. Shoots: L CSB rank: 123rd
leader, on the ice and also in the locker room. Lukas, a smallish type of defenseman, played
four games in the Extraleague this season. Lukas is a very good backward skater and solid
stickhandler who is very good defensively. Makes almost no mistakes and is useful on both
powerplay and penalty kill. His problem is, that for a stay-at-home NHL player he may be too
small. Lukas relies on his skills more than on the rough side. Even if he has some offensive
upside, his defensive side is dominating. Lukas is a character guy who could be a wild card
for some NHL team.
Petr Cajanek Position: center/left wing Team: HC Continental Zlin Born: August, 18th, 1975 Height: 5'11'' Weight: 175 lbs. Shoots: L
by a single player at the Under-20 WJC with 65 PIMs. Petr played his entire Extraleague
career for Zlin, where he recorded 49 points (18 goals and 31 assists) along with 105 PIMs
this season. Petr is a lion heart, never gives up, always playing the games at high intensity.
When he was younger, he was a hot head and was looking for fights, now he fights about five
times pro season. But mainly he is an excellent passer and scorer. Petr is an excellent skater
with a fluid stride and great acceleration. Has very good vision and hockey sense, at nearly
26 years no longer a prospect but a mature player with terrific offensive instincts. After
the fourth round I would look for Petr to be selected. The only problem is that he is too
skinny to play in the NHL right now. He will have to add some bulk if he wants to succeed
at a camp. But his plusses are overwhelming – Petr is a great skater, solid at faceoffs,
good goalscorer and passer.
Karel Pilar Position: defenseman Team: HC Chemopetrol Litvinov Born: December, 23rd, 1977 Height: 6'3'' Weight: 210 lbs. Shoots: R
a world champion as he won the title in Germany. Left Sparta Praha after his junior career
during which he was overlooked by the coaches of the junior national teams and finally got a chance
with Litvinov in 1999-2000, after playing for Kralupy nad Vltavou in a lower league. This
season was very good for Karel as he grabbed the title for the scoring champion among
defensemen in the Czech Extraleague, with 38 points (12 goals + 26 assists) in 52 games.
Karel is a defenseman who likes to play offensively, but mainly takes care of his own end.
He has an accurate shot from the point, very good passing skills and is very useful on the
powerplay. Pilar skates well but he will have to work on his toughness in order to succeed
in the NHL.
Dusan Salficky Position: goaltender Team: HC Keramika Plzen Born: March, 28th, 1972 Height: 6'1'' Weight: 184 lbs. Catches: left
for a long time. This season he appeared in all 52 contests of Plzen, posting a 2.63 GAA and
a .9244 save percentage. His season with the national team was also excellent as he was the
starter till the World Championships and was a key factor for the Czech team in many games.
Dusan is a butterfly goalie with excellent reflexes and a quick glove. Likes to challenge
the opposing forward and plays the angles well. NHL goalies are mostly better at stickhandling
than Dusan is and this factor he has to improve. But otherwise is Dusan a very mature goalie,
mentally well prepared, plays with lots of confidence. With the trend of selecting Czech
goaltender he could be one of the late round selection and hope to become the next Roman
Marek Zidlicky Position: defenseman Team: IFK Helsinki Born: February, 3rd, 1977 Height: 5'11'' Weight: 185 lbs. Shoots: R
was overlooked at the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, when was his draft year, and also in 1996. After
that his chances to be drafted were equally zero but with a good season he had in the Finnish
SM-Liiga some team could finally call his name. One of the reasons why Marek, the former player
of Kladno, went undrafted probably was that it was said that he has a bad influence on the
team. Due to this fact he also missed some tournaments with the junior teams. Stubborn Marek
didn’t always do exactly what the coaches wanted and the team followed him. Now at 24 years
Marek should be more calm and coachable. And he blossomed into a real good defenseman. He only
developed the skills he already had at 18. Marek is a very good skater, good acceleration at
skating backwards and solid lateral movement. He can support the offense well, has a strong shot
and good outlet passes. Plus, Marek is a tough nasty defenseman who is always willing to throw
a hit. Back in the Czech Republic he was one of the top Czech tough guys, he drops the gloves
with pleasure when the situation needs it. In 2000-2001 he stunned the Finnish league and he
could repeat this also in the NHL. Marek could turn into a gem if a team selects him. After the
fourth round I would look for him.
the NHL Entry Draft this week. There surely can be some surprises when there will be drafted
players not included in this list, but this concerns mostly the overagers. Ivan Huml, the Bruins
second round choice in the last draft, came almost from nowhere (exactly from the BCJHL’s
Langley Hornets), but I think that this isn’t very likely this year. We’ll see, I’ll follow
with a draft review of the selected Czech players soon after the draft. Enjoy the draft show!