Czech 2003 prospects: Tomas Csabi

By Robert Neuhauser
The Under-18 WJC is always a highly important tournament for every young player. It
influences the chances of players on a succesfull NHL draft, but for the late-born or
younger players it can first have a huge influence on their career in major junior hockey
in North America before they have the age to step on the podium and be picked in the
NHL Entry Draft. One of those who enjoyed a great Under-18 WJC, but are still too young for
the NHL draft is late 1984 born Vitkovice juniors forward Tomas Csabi.

Tomas Csabi started his hockey career in Havirov, one of the cities which nowadays form along
with Trinec and Ostrava (Vitkovice have their franchise based in Ostrava) the “hockey triangle”
of the northern Czech Republic. In opposite to the Bermuda triangle, where ships mysteriously
disappear, in this triangle quality hockey prospects suddenly appear. Tomas stood on
the skates for the first time when he was three years old. Just like many of today’s players,
he had the inspiration in his father, who skated with TZ Trinec in the past times when the
team wasn’t a member of the Czech Extraleague. He brought his little son to the local rink
and Tomas took his first strides. He came to like skating and his hockey career was on the
very beginning. Soon after that he also took the stick into his hands and was ready to enter
the youngest grade team of Havirov.

Tomas felt very comfortable at the forward position, even if his lanky frame could bring the
coaches to an idea to slot him as a defenseman. But Tomas prefered to make finesse plays
with the pucks and be creative more than concentrate on stopping the raids of the opposition.
His father was along with the coaches among the people who gave Tomas the needed tips and
taught him the hockey basics. Since the very first time he got the advice that once on a
scoring chance, he has to fire the puck and try to score a goal and not fool around and make
risky passes. Tomas remembered this and thanks to his talent this advice helped him to earn
a reputation of a very good goalscorer soon. Tomas knew that he can achieve a lot in the
game of hockey and began to be very dedicated to the game. Not only that he led his teams
in goals scored, but also in workouts. This factor also contributed to the fact, that the
Havirov 1984 born kids enjoyed success at youth tournaments often thanks to Tomas’ offensive
output. Tomas himself has various trophies from those times at home, often he was awarded
with a trophy for the Best goalscorer, Best forward or even both.

One of the breaking points in Tomas’ career came as he started to perform for the 6th grade
of Havirov. Respected coach Jan Danecek, father of current Czech Under-16 team star Jan
Danecek, took over the coaching duties in the Havirov’s 1984 borns team and immediately
recognized Tomas’ talent. He began to work with Tomas Csabi a lot and under Danecek’s tutelage
Tomas began to develop also other aspects of the game than only scoring goals. His natural
nose for the net couldn’t be taught, but he worked on upgrading his defensive awareness and
bringing his game from one-dimensional to more well-rounded.
Tomas Csabi flourished under Jan Danecek’s coaching and after a very solid season for the 7th
grade he established a region of doom over the opposing goalies while playing for the 8th
grade. That year his offensive machine ran on full steam as he amassed 133 points for 79 goals
and 54 assists, an effort which was of course among the best in the whole country. From now
on Csabi wasn’t only a local hero, but also a coveted prospect in the whole Czech Republic.

The season when he was a member of the 9th grade team was also the one when he was saying
bye to his native Havirov. At that time there was only a Div I league franchise in Havirov
and for Tomas it was essential to move to a city with an Extraleague team, where he could
start his career in the midget Extraleague. He didn’t have problem with offers. Nearby
Vitkovice team contacted him and invited him to a system which has already produced solid
NHL players like for example Carolina Hurricanes hulking defenseman Marek Malik.
Tomas finally accepted the offer. He didn’t need to move a long way, just a few miles to
Ostrava and the biggest plus was that in the white-blue colors of Vitkovice he was served
with a chance to play hockey in the major midget cathegory.

Tomas Csabi is a dynamic forward with a nice scoring touch, at 6’2” he has an impressive
height but at 176 lbs. he is still a bit skinny. Tomas skates very well for a player of
his size and can make very fast turns. He has very soft hands and handles his stick well.
He is strong on the puck and likes to have it on his tape. Once on a scoring chance, Tomas
doesn’t hesitate to shoot and his wrist shot and slap shot are both extremly good. His
passing skills are solid, but Tomas needs to upgrade his decision making a bit and have the
timing of his passes better. Still, he sees the ice quite well and has no problems with
reading of plays, he just needs to be more mature. His defensive play is average, but Tomas
is working on this skill. He uses his frame quite well, he likes to fight for the loose
pucks in front of the opposing net and score from rebounds, but could throw more hard hits.
Tomas is an intense forward who could benfit from the North American junior developmental
system.

The 1999-2000 season was his first in Vitkovice. He had no problems with adjusting to the
midget level and his knack for scoring goals was very useful for Vitkovice. Tomas also added
a mean streak to his game and showed more of his nasty edge. He already had a very solid size
and he learned how to use it to his advantage and throw hard hits, which led to 85 PIMs
In 48 games Tomas
Csabi notched 24 points for 17 goals and 7 assists. Those numbers may suggest a selfish play,
but Tomas is a scorer, thrives on a line with a skilled playmaker and is definitely not
more selfish than other scorers.
The 1999-2000 was important for Tomas also due to another fact. It was his first international
season. In the spring of 1999 he had a stellar performance at the selection camp for the
Under-16 team and it was clear that the player who likes to wear the number 23 on his jersey
will start his international career in fall.
He participated at the first camp in Nymburk and then headed Switzerland for two tournaments.
The first one was played in Saignelegier and there took part the Czech Under-16 “B” team.
In three games Tomas scored one goal. The second tournament was already with the major
Under-16 team and the three-game series against the Swiss Under-17 team was Tomas’ first
major international tournament.

Tomas stayed in the midget Extraleague also for his sophomore season, 2000-2001, while lots
of his 1984 born mates were already moving up to the junior ranks. But Tomas felt it is
better for his development to stay with the midgets, earn lots of playing time and wait
one more season for the junior debut. His offensive numbers nearly doubled and he also learned
how to use his teammates more. In 46 games he recorded 43 points for 23 goals and 20 assists
while racking up 76 PIMs.
During the 2000-2001 season Tomas was already a regular with the Czech Under-17 team. He missed
just the first tournament in early August against the young Germans and then the European
Youth Olympics in March. Tomas participated also at the famous World Hockey Challenge. That
was his most succesfull tournament in the season, Tomas scored goals in games against Team
Quebec and against Germany. Overall in 2000-2001 Tomas dressed up for 18 games of the Czech
Under-17 team, registering 6 points for 4 goals and 2 assists, a +/- of +5 and 6 PIMs.

This past season Tomas was no more eligible to play in the midget ranks. He started his career
in the junior Extraleague, where he quickly adapted to new teammates and spent time also
on the second line. Tomas’ combo with skilled Lukas Krenzelok seemed to click and Tomas
enjoyed the season with Krenzelok. In 2001-2002 Tomas recorded the highest number of PIMs
so far, at 92 PIMs he fitted more into a power forward role. His offensive numbers took
a decrease, also thanks to the rookie role on the team and Tomas notched just 11 points
for 6 goals and 5 assists.
Tomas had another succesfull international season with the Czech Under-18 team in 2001-2002.
He played at the Six Nations Tournament in August, at two Four Nations Tournaments and also
the 2002 Viking Cup. There he went scoreless but the major event of the season came at the
Under-18 WJC. Tomas won a spot on the roster and had really a bright showing there as he scored
important goals in games against Norway, the only loss against Russia and in the final
game against Finland. For the bronze-medal winning Czechs Tomas played 8 games and scored
4 points for 3 goals and 1 assist.

Tomas’ most common free time activity is resting. He knows that he has to have enough for the
games and so he likes to rest and sleep. He likes to go to the village, where his family
has a cottage and he enjoys the nature there. When Tomas isn’t resting, then he most likely
does some others, with soccer, tennis and squash being the frontrunners. His favorite food
is a beefsteak.
If he’ll make it to the NHL, then he will have enough money to eat tons of beefsteaks. Tomas
is a huge NHL fan and he likes the Colorado Avalanche very much. He would like to play
with all the players the Avs have on their roster, including Tomas’ role model, also right-
shooting Milan Hejduk. Coming the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Tomas would be extremly happy to
be drafted by the Avalanche.
The NHL is a dream for Tomas and he hopes that one day he will have an opportunity to hoist
the Stanley Cup over his head. But before this it could very well be the Memorial Cup. Tomas
is considering coming over to the CHL if he’ll be picked in the CHL Import Draft this June,
but leaves the final decision to his dad and his agent. Still, there is a huge chance that
Tomas will report and if he’ll go to a contender, then he would have a chance also on the
Holy grail of junior hockey. It remains to be seen how Tomas’ future career will be. Good luck!