After finishing my interview with Raffi Torres on November 24th, I had a chance to sit down with the Islanders young sniper Juraj Kolnik. Drafted in the fourth round (101st overall), Kolnik is being brought along slowly by the Islanders. He has seen time on different lines (ranging from the second line to the fourth) and has gotten some power play minutes during his latest recall. Here’s what he had to say when I sat down with him before the Isles game with the Mighty Ducks.
Hockey’s Future: So what is different this time, you’re second time around with the Isles?
Juraj Kolnik: Everything is different. The speed is different; it gets a little faster from juniors to the American Hockey League and up to the NHL. The practices are different too. I’m just really excited to be here and practice with the guys and if I have a place to play with somebody I want to be ready all the time, whether its the second, third or fourth line, I just want to do my best.
HF: How does Bridgeport compare to the Isles? How is the system different?
JK: We play the same style, I mean the coach (SoundTigers Head Coach Steve Stirling) plays the same style, but there’s a big difference between the NHL and AHL.
HF: How was the switch last year, going from Lowell to Springfield?
JK: It was a great switch, I was coming from junior and wasn’t playing a lot in the AHL and I knew I could play in the AHL. I saw other guys that I had played with in the AHL, in the NHL, so I talked with my agent. I could have gone back to juniors overage, but then I got traded from Lowell to Springfield and it worked out great.
HF: You ended up with more quality ice time, how did that effect you?
JK: I ended up playing on the first and second lines and getting more power play time. It was just a great move for me.
HF: Have you talked to Brad Richards since last year?
JK: Actually, I met Brad this summer in Rimouski. My girlfriend is from Rimouski, so I spent the summer there and met up with Brad. He gave me his cellphone number, but I have to call him again.
HF: (Jokingly) Who has better hands (you or Brad Richards)?
JK: Oh Brad’s got better hands, better eyes, he’s a great hockey player.
HF: But you’re the sniper and he’s the passer?
JK: That’s what we did back in junior, he’d get me the puck and it was my job to score the goals. That’s what we did, that’s probably why we won the Memorial Cup. He had something like 187 points and I had 107, but I only played in 47 games. That doesn’t matter really, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is a little bit different from the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The “Q” has a more offensive style. But anyway, he’s a great player and a great guy.
HF: Well thanks for your time and best of luck with the rest of the season.
JK: Thank you.
Kolnik has played well since his recall. He tallied the Isles lone goal (a PP marker) in a forgettable 6-1 loss to the Coyotes. He hasn’t really distinguished himself in the scoring department, but he has played a much more physical style. He has also shown the he has an excellent release and is not afraid to fire the puck. Over a four game period he has one goal on five shots. With an average of 8:29 minutes of icetime per game, he is a –2, with 10 hits and a takeaway. With a few forwards in and out of the trainer’s room, now is the time for Juraj to show the Isles what he’s got. Playing with someone like Alexei Yashin could make that task a lot easier. Hopefully soon, Isles fans will see him putting up some Parrish-like goal totals.
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