Czech Republic draft preview

By Robert Neuhauser
After the NHL awards have found their new owners, the eyes of all fans, scouts and people around
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. The North American players play in front of the scouts nearly
every game, but that’s another story. The Czechs have really an exceptionally strong 1984
birthyear as far as hockey prospects are concerned and this year’s crop is going to be one
of the best every. In opposite to this year’s draft overall view as being the weakest since
1996, the Czech people view it as the strongest since the 1994 show. It’s only a pity that
thanks to an agent’s mistake top prospects Michal Barinka, Jakub Langhammer and Jan Velich
opted into the draft already after the deadline and thus are ineligible for this year’s draft.
This has weakened the level slightly, but still there can be had many players with chances
on a very solid NHL career, some of them may even become NHL stars of tommorow. The Czech
1984 borns were supposed to make a splash at the Under-18 WJC, where they finally won
bronze medals, and now at the NHL Entry Draft. So let’s come to the names!

Jiri Hudler />
Position: center
Team: HC Vsetin
Birthdate: January, 4th, 1984
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 163 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 3rd among Euro skaters

Jiri is a center who definitely oozes talent with all his body. The son of Vsetin midgets
coach already played his third
senior Extraleague season and this time he was on fire during the whole season as he averaged
exactly one point per game. Hudler was also industrial in the Liberec win in the Div I league
as he was on loan in Liberec. The Czech Under-18 team captain isn’t expected to fall off the
top 15 and rumors say that he can go either to Calgary, Anaheim or Nashville. Whatever team
will get him it will get a center with amazing vision and hockey sense who has great wheels
and superb stickhandling skills. Hudler makes plays happen like he wants to and if it wasn’t
for his size deficiency, he would challenge for the top 5. He has a rare knack for doing
exactly the opposite play the other side awaits and is a terrific playmaker.
Only his diminutive frame and
just average defensive play hold this mighty-mite back a bit else he is a rare gem.

Petr Taticek
Position: center
Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Born: September, 22nd, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 188 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 7th among North American skaters

Taticek’s spirited performance in the OHL raised some eyebrows this past season and the son
of a former Kladno player quickly became talked about as a blue-chipper for this draft.
He passed over Jiri Hudler in the THN draft preview and if some team will like him, then this
prediction can come true also at the draft. The Greyhounds center brings a well-rounded game
to the table, with no glaring weakness. Taticek is a superb blend of size, exceptional skills,
playmaking talent and nice toughness. He is a strong two-way forward who has all the tools
of a future NHL 2nd line center. He handles the puck very well and his vision enables him
to pass the puck through holes unseen by others. When you take into account also his very
solid defensive awareness, then you have a prospect who is almost a lock to be taken in the
top 15. Could be a nice fit to the Washington Capitals or the Edmonton Oilers.

Jakub Koreis
Position: center
Team: HC Keramika Plzen
Born: June, 26th, 1984
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 198 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 10th among Euro skaters

The Plzen power-pivot saw his stock take a steady rise during the season. He spent this season
already in the senior Extraleague and showed that he can compete well at the top level.
He healed from a recent ankle injury and contributed to the bronze success at the Under-18
Koreis posesses very good overall
skill, even if his skating could still be improved a bit. He is a good puckhandler, shoots
well and has a terrific hockey sense. His huge frame contributes to the upside. Jakub gives
everything to the team’s success and uses his body very well when fighting for the puck or
covering the puck. Koreis is also quite solid in the faceoff circle. Looks like a dark horse
of the draft, he can easily slip into the top 20. With his combative play, great size and
overall skill he is unlikely to fall out of the first round.

Martin Vagner
Position: defenseman
Team: Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)
Born: March, 16th, 1984
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 215 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 8th among North American skaters

Martin joined stud Ales Hemsky on the Olympiques team and in short team he earned a reputation
of the top defenseman to come out of the ‘Q’ this season. The former Pardubice defenseman
doesn’t regret his coming over as he took his game to another level this past season. He
can dominate the defensive zone with his intriguing size, skating skill and a great mobility
but still it looks like he has to put the pieces of the puzzle together sometimes. Another
strength of Martin is that he is a poised puckhandler and shows signs of a puckrushing
blueliner. He appears to be one of the most promising rearguards from this years’ crop,
this diamond just needs a bit “polishing” in upgrading his shooting skills and toughness.
Won’t prevent him from being picked in the first round, most likely. Martin isn’t a second
Jay Bouwmeester, but seems to have a bright NHL future as a potential top four defenseman.

Jakub Klepis
Position: center
Team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Born: June, 5th, 1984
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Shoots: R
CSB final rank: 16th among North American skater

Jakub Klepis created some mess in his parent HC Slavia Praha team with his sudden leaving
for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.
But Jakub enjoyed a stellar WHL rookie season and stunned the league with his
creativity and smooth stickhandling. Persistent around the goal area, Jakub is
an explosive skater with very soft hands and an excellent vision. He handles the puck well
and makes very smart passes, but has also a nose for the net. He plays an intense game
with a decent portion of aggresivness and whooping playmaking talent.
Klepis’ star is on the rise and even if his recent signing with HC Slavia Praha seniors
may influence his draft stock slightly, he won’t fall much on the draft ladder. He has just
too much to offer to be passed over, teams looking for a playmaker will be considering picking
Klepis heavily.

Ondrej Nemec
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Vsetin
Born: April, 18th, 1984
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 192 lbs.
Shoots: R
CSB final rank: 14th among Euro skaters

A revelation of this past Extraleague season as far as junior-aged defensemen are concerned,
Nemec played with exceptional confidence and maturity for a boy among men. He even wasn’t
afraid to join the rush and show the plays which made the people draw comparsions to
a young Ray Bourque. His five senior goals are great and contribute to the fact that Ondrej
definitely topps the 2002 eligible Czech offensive defensemen. He also won the Czech defensemen
scoring at the Under-18 WJC. Ondrej doesn’t posess a giant frame but has a very smart head
on his shoulders. He distributes and rushes the pucks extremly well and has a heavy shot
from the point, which is very accurate. Ondrej is a tenacious warrior and makes up for his
lack of size with his superb intensity. His weakness is his average skating, for a middle-sized
defenseman he could use better wheels. Still, Nemec is a blue-chipper who should be an early

Jan Kubista
Position: right wing
Team: HC Pojistovna Pardubice
Born: April, 12th, 1984
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 187 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 17th among Euro skaters

The sized Pardubice winger is one of the most coveted forwards to burst onto the international
scene during the last two seasons. Kubista is a valuable cog and eliminates the opposition
with his offensive instincts and an intimidating physical presence. The drawback is
that the jury is still out on his skating ability, else he has all the tools of an elite
forward prospect. He posesses a very good size and is willing to use it when fighting for
the puck or punishing the opposition. The belligerent Kubista is a slick puckhandler
and has a very bright shooting arsenal. He can also make accurate passes and is working on
his average defensive play
and getting rid of the tendency to particularly disappear when playing
off the puck. Jan is highly regarded thanks to his size and overall skill level and as the
second round will pass the halfway mark, the teams will be having a scoop on him.

Tomas Linhart
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Pojistovna Pardubice
Born: February, 16th, 1984
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 209 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 22nd among Euro skaters

Another player from the mighty Pardubice Jr. team, Tomas Linhart had his season capped off
by a separated shoulder which required a surgery in the end. Still before this happened he
could leave an impression at the international tournaments including the Viking Cup and also
play his Div I league debut. Tomas excells on the defensive side of his game and is able
to dominate that area with his imposing frame, mobility and strong skating skills. He also
isn’t afraid of throwing his body around and sweeping the opponents from the crease. Linhart
launches missiles from the blue line and has an excellent reach
but could use a smoother puckhandling and upgrade his decisions with the puck. A rugged
defenseman, Tomas is expected to be selected in the upper half of the draft. Won’t be
the next Darius Kasparaitis, but has the tools of a future top six NHL blueliner.

Martin Cizek
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: May, 17th, 1984
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 185 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 25th among Euro skaters

The Slavia Praha rearguard posesses great size, mobility and plays also a very mature game.
Primarily a stay-at-home defenseman, Cizek takes care of his own end first but is also
adept at joining the rush. He is very responsible and does the little things well. Cizek is
good to be paired with a rusher, when he can show his huge defensive awareness. He consistently
makes safe outlet decisions when he avoids any risky plays and tries to keep
his game simple. Cizek shows remarkable poise moving the puck but could do that more often as
he seems still not fully grown into his huge potential. He is a fierce competitor and gives
everything to the team’s success. Is CHL bound after the draft but first it has to be
decided about his NHL employer. He isn’t a very hyped player and could surprise many as a
darkhorse. Cizek is another sleeper worth a look.

Petr Kanko
Position: right wing
Team: Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Born: February, 7th, 1984
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 26th among North American skaters

Petr Kanko’s unpermitted leaving for the Kitchener Rangers made some bad mood in his parent
HC Sparta Praha team thus Kanko wasn’t allowed to perform at the Under-18 WJC. In the OHL
he was off to a hot start but slowed down a bit with his just ordinary second half of the
season to classify his season showing as solid but not spectacular. Kanko got used to the
OHL style quite well and he displayed hair-raising speed and a terrific skating ability.
He is a stocky, slippery winger who takes advantage of his ability to make elusive moves on
a coin. Petr maneuvres well through traffic and posesses top-notch stickhandling. He has a
perfect nose for the net and his instincts have gained him a reputation of a sniper but he
is also a strong passer. His lackluster defensive play and a diminutive frame, thanks to
which he can be knocked off the puck sometimes too easily, may washed him out of first
round consideration but look after him immediately after the start of the second.

Lukas Mensator
Position: goaltender
Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary
Born: August, 18th, 1984
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 154 lbs.
Catches: L
CSB final rank: 4th among Euro goalies

Clearly the best 1984 born Czech goaltender Lukas Mensator backstopped the Czechs to a
bronze medal at the Under-18 WJC while earning Top goaltender honors. Spent this season
playing for Karlovy Vary Jr. but is expected to perform for the seniors anywhere in Europe
the next season. Lukas permanently stood on his head this past season to bring his team
into the postseason and proved that he belongs to the best stoppers of his age in the world.
Smallish, resilient Mensator plays a great butterfly style and
likes to aggresively challenge the shooter. He has cat-like reflexes and is a
very strong skater. Lukas has a exceptionally fast glove hand and uses his pads extremly well.
His only problem is his severe size deficit and average net coverage which may cost him
a selection in the first four rounds.

Marian Havel
Position: center/left wing
Team: Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Born: January, 26th, 1984
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 176 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 65th among North American skaters

The first overall pick of the 2001 CHL Import Draft is coming off a less than spectacular
season with the Giants. He showed glimpses of his undisputed talent but also had some trouble
with his consistency and finally wasn’t named to the Czech Under-18 WJC team. An offensive
Marian Havel is a very good skater who is able to reach top speed in a few strides. Marian is
blessed with tremendous vision and hockey
sense, which enables him to make very smart passes. But his biggest offensive asset is his
booming slap shot, which he only has to unleash more frequently.
Marian likes to have the puck on his stick,
where his creativity and offensive talent explodes. But he has made remarkable strides also
in his defensive play and is on the way to an all-round forward. His stock has dropped a bit,
therefore he can be counted on as a mid- or late-round pick.

Jonas Fidler
Position: right wing
Team: Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Born: May, 29th, 1984
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 173 lbs.
Shoots: R
CSB final rank: 74th among North American skaters

The lanky forward originally from Jihlava, Czech Republic, has his first season of North
American major junior hockey under his belt and this season was quite solid for Jonas.
As a rookie on a team which belongs to the upper echelon of the OHL he didn’t see such a lot
of quality ice time but still made the most from it. He got used to the different style after
some time and started displaying his typical play. Versatile and deceptively quick, Fidler
also found a commitment to defense to go along with his above-average puckhandling skills
and an ability to maneuver through heavy traffic. He is a strong playmaker and still finds
the net regularly with his quite accurate shots. He definitely needs to bulk up and add
pounds to his frame. Intensity and aggresivness is also a questions but there are good signs
that Jonas will improve. Has inspired some people with his inaugural OHL campaign and the
NHL scouts will probably be included.

David Turon
Team: HC Havirov Panthers
Position: defenseman
Born: October, 4th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 187 lbs.
Shoots: R
CSB final rank: 28th among Euro skaters

Due to David’s late 1983 birthdate he wasn’t served with such a chance to play in front of
NHL scouts as many of his 1984 born draftmates. He couldn’t play for the Under-18 team and
didn’t perform a lot for the Under-20. Still, he could crack the Havirov’s senior Extraleague
team lineup and stick with the team for some time.
For a player of his size David has a solid mobility, but his skating could be improved.
He plays a very smart two-way game and wants to have his defensive duties done first.
David supports the offense well and has a very good hard shot from the point with a fast
release. On the downside he could make
better decisions when passing the puck, his shooting is better than passing, and use his
body more.
Overall, Turon has the tools to become a very solid defenseman, he only has to keep
his play simple and upgrade his skating. Probably a late-round pick.

Jiri Cetkovsky
Position: center/right wing
Team: HC Continental Zlin
Born: November, 4th, 1983
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 194 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 37th among Euro skaters

Almost unknown the season before, Jiri Cetkovsky’s stock sky-rocketed over the last months.
He never played for any junior national team except of the unofficial Under-15 till this season,
when he skated with the Under-20 team at the Five Nations Tournament in Russia. There he
showed that he has the raw skill to develop into one of the premiere power forwards. Jiri
is a ferocious hitter and he uses his hulking frame very well when fighting along the boards.
A tenacious forward, Jiri isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty plus can play both center and
right wing. He also won’t hurt you defensively as he shows lots of defensive awareness in his
play. For a man of his size Cetkovsky skates well but has some reserves in his stickhandling
and could use his teammates more. At times he doesn’t seem to read the play terribly well
but still can turn into a diamond in the rough if he put the intangibles together. A mid-round
pick most likely.

Tomas Fleischmann
Position: center/right wing
Team: HC Vitkovice
Born: May, 16th, 1984
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 172 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 39th among Euro skaters

Another player who appeared on the radar screens of NHL scouts only in the near past. After
some not inspirating showings in the previous two seasons Tomas has found his game this year
and it looks like he has put the intangibles together and can fully use his natural talent.
Tomas also added a pair of inches to his frame and even if he is still quite skinny, he has
the height to succeed. Fleischmann is an agile forward who is a quick skater and a crafty
puckhandler with a hard drive to the net. Tomas is well-balanced and once on a scoring
chance, he takes advantage of his sniper instincts and doesn’t hesitate to fire the puck.
He could use a bigger portion of aggresivness and be more aware defensively, still overall he
is a very solid prospect. The NHL teams will want from him to add 15-20 pounds but he looks
like a sure-fire mid- or late-rounder.

Jiri Svoboda
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: December, 3rd, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 187 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 57th among Euro skaters

Was never considered as a top prospect, but Jiri Svoboda has worked his way into the NHL
scouts notes with his savvy defense and reliable team play, which isn’t fully a thing which
can be taught. Jiri tries to take care of his own end first and doesn’t suffer from many
defensive-zone gaffs so that he can be labeled as very solid in his own end. He takes
pride in his strong positioning and reading of plays, which enables him to be at the right
place at the right time. Jiri is no crash-banger and could definitely use more of a nasty
edge to his play. He is solid with the puck and tries to keep his game simple. More than
making a risky play he dishes it off to avoid a danger. His shooting skills are average
and Jiri could shoot more frequently and more accurate. He has solid passing skills and
his decent outlet passes can create turnovers. Svoboda is a longshot but definitely
has solid chances to be drafted.

Marek Chvatal
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Ocelari Trinec
Birthdate: January, 27th, 1984
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 176 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 66th among Euro skaters

If you are looking for an offensive defenseman, here is one. Marek Chvatal stood out for the
Trinec juniors this past season and also saw playing time in the senior Extraleague.
A good skater with above-average lateral movement
and balance, Marek support the offense a lot and capitalizes on his strong instincts.
He has a bright vision and hockey sense but needs to work on his decision making and
try not to wander from his defensive responsibilities. Up front Marek is very good,
with highly accurate passes, only his shot needs to be a bit more harder and accurate.
Marek isn’t a devastating hitter, more a positional player and he could show more of his nasty
edge. He doesn’t suffer from odd positional breakdowns. Marek uses
his stick well against opposing forwards and he reads the plays quite well.
When he brings more toughness to his game and his decision making will be more mature,
then Chvatal can definitely succeed in pro hockey. Well worth a late-rounder.

Petr Dvorak
Position: center
Team: HC Havirov Panthers
Born: October, 11th, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 194 lbs.
Shoots: R
CSB final rank: 82th among Euro skaters

Petr is fighting out his way from nowhere to the 2002 prospect consideration. He wasn’t
among the regulars in the junior national teams of the 1983 borns but appears to be a
very promising player who can eventually fit the bill as a late-bloomer. A quick, crafty
skater who can turn on a dime, Dvorak brings a nice mix of grit and skill and shows signs
of developing into a scoring threat. Petr boasts a very accurate wrister and is a coveted
powerplay and penalty killing units player. He handles the puck extremly well with his
soft hands and seems to always find a way how to slip through traffic. Thanks to his solid
vision is Petr capable of strong passes and he has also a nose for the net. Albeit being
criticised for his lack of toughness, Petr has shown a willingness to pay the physical price,
even if he still could be tougher. He also isn’t very good defensively. Whatever team may pick
him, it’ll be a gamble. Chances are solid, that it’ll be succesfull, though.

Lukas Pabiska
Position: center
Team: HC Bili Tygri Liberec
Born: February, 24th, 1984
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 176 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 83rd among Euro skaters

A rather enigmatic prospect had this past season a breakthrough international season, which saw
him comepting at both the Viking Cup and Under-18 WJC. The years before the took part just
in the European’s Youth Olympics. A smooth, strong-skating center Pabiska brings a nice
offensive game to the table, where the terrific vision is his biggest asset. He isn’t a
physical, hard-driving warrior, but a finesse center who is able to slip through defenses
and create scoring chances. He handles the puck well with his soft hands and likes to play
the playmaking role and control the play of the line. Lukas doesn’t panic with the puck
and looks for the best chance to make a pass, even if he still also finds the net regularly.
The jury is still out on his consistency, but there are signs that this will come with more
maturity, Lukas is still quite raw. He has also to further develop his toughness and defensive
play, else he is a candidate for a late-round selection.

Ladislav Kouba
Position: left wing/right wing
Team: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Born: September, 10th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 210 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 98th among North American skaters

The big, sturdy former forward of Plzen showed his versatility and an ability to handle
heavy traffic very well in his second season of major junior hockey in Canada. Kouba is a
solid skater for a player of his size, even if he is no speedster. He has soft hands which
enable him to handle the puck smoothly. Once on a scoring chance, Ladislav doesn’t hesitate
to fire the puck at the net. His deft passing is also very useful, but Ladislav could further
develop his decision making. He plays very good on special units and isn’t afraid of going
in front of the net and look for rebounds. Ladislav is also very good in the defensive aspect
of the game and shows the signs of a potential future power forward. He has a superb size
and is slowly learning how to use it to his advantage. Needed more time to adjust to the
tough WHL, but is on the rise and the NHL teams are aware of this fact and may call his name
after the draft passes the halfway mark.

Ladislav Kolda
Position: defenseman
Team: Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Born: October, 16th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 176th among North American skaters

A big, mobile blueliner, Ladislav Kolda got traded from the Oshawa Generals to the Owen Sound
Attack this past OHL season. He posted quite solid numbers on teams which don’t belong
to the top of the OHL, on a team with a stronger group of forwards he could make use of
his strong outlet passing even more. Kolda is a powerful skater and boasts solid offensive
instincts including superb passing. His shooting isn’t rocket-like and could be improved,
but still Ladislav has a very good offensive upside. He covers the defensive zone well with
his size and mobility, but doesn’t read the plays like a book and could use an improvement
in this skill. His positioning is above-average and Ladislav knows where his spot is and stays
with his man. He has worked a lot to improve his toughness and appears to be on a way to
a solid NHL prospect. A mid- or late-rounder, though.

Lukas Krenzelok
Position: center/left wing
Team: HC Vitkovice
Born: June, 30th, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: 120th among Euro skaters

From an overlooked prospect to a player who fought out a spot in the senior Extraleague in
one year, that’s Lukas Krenzelok. Even if the Vitkovice seniors were using him sparingly,
Lukas showed flashes of bright talent mixed with a solid portion of grit and determination.
Swift, versatile and opportunistic, Krenzelok is a fluid skater and has worked dilligently
to shed his reputation as non-intense and one-dimensional. He has warp-speed capabilities
and he uses it when slipping through defenses. Lukas is a good stickhandler and doesn’t
hesitate to shoot the puck once on a scoring chance. He isn’t a lethal shooter but has
solid skills in this, just as in playmaking. Krenzelok is making strides in upgrading
his defensive play and all-round play. He doesn’t posess a huge size and could have some
trouble with handling the tougher NHL. This may be the reason why he got overlooked, but the
talent is here without any doubt.

Lukas Dobry
Team: HC Continental Zlin
Position: right wing
Born: April, 15th, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 176 lbs.
Shoots: R
CSB final rank: 122nd among Euro skaters

Overlooked at the last year’s draft, Lukas Dobry began to be considered as a possible late-
rounder for this year’s draft. He didn’t have a special breakthrough year which was caused
by an injury which limited his season showing to slightly more over ten games. But in those
games he showed a bright upside and lots of talent as he served as a playmaking whiz for the
Zlin juniors.
Lukas, a member of the 2001 Czech Under-18 team, is a player who does almost everything well but
nothing in his arsenal is really top notch, with the exception of strong playmaking talent.
Right now his problem seems to be
his lack of muscle, at 176 lbs. he is quite skinny. Lukas is no tough guy, he is more a
finesse forward who can also play a grinder role. A quick and balanced skater, Lukas also
has a nice accurate wrist shot. His hockey sense is very good and so is his vision and
reading of plays. Dobry is quite hidden and it remains to be seen if he’ll become a diamond
in the rough.

Tomas Kolafa
Team: HC Vagnerplast Kladno
Position: defenseman
Born: February, 7th, 1984
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Shoots: R
CSB final rank: 129th among Euro skaters

Quite surprisingly the Kladno defenseman won a roster spot on the Under-18 WJC team after
a solid season for Kladno in the junior Extraleague. He didn’t
see any significant playing time for the Under-18 team during the season and his play on
the international scene seemed to be on the decline. He is more of a defensive blueliner but
boasts a booming slapper. He likes to launch accurate rockets from the blue line and does
that quite often.
Kolafa relies on
very sound positioning and a decent portion of toughness. He has to work on his mobility as this
still doesn’t look like one of his strengths. Tomas has a decent offensive upside, he
can also distribute the pucks well and not very risky. He tries to keep his
game simple and doesn’t have glaring downsides. But on the other side also many huge upsides.
In many ways he looks like a project and if he’ll be picked, then as a late-rounder.

Josef Vavra
Team: HC Vsetin
Position: left wing
Born: March, 17th, 1984
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 175 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: not ranked

Josef had a bright season for Vsetin in the junior Extraleague and only a leg injury
prevented him from participating at the Under-18 WJC.
Vavra is an agile winger with lots of offensive flair. He is a swift skater and
he can make fast turns, just his balance could
be improved. But Josef accelerates well and he likes to fly on the ice. Vavra is a finesse
winger with a solid vision and hockey sense and is blessed with great hands.
Josef only needs to learn not to overhandle the puck and shoot it more often. He likes to
make smart passes and he is a very good passer but sometimes hesitates to shoot the puck.
Vavra tends to leave his position on the left wing and to fly on the ice, he has to avoid
these lapses. Highly skilled but also particularly immature and looks like a high risk-high
return gamble. Will be considered as a late round pick.

Miloslav Horava
Position: left wing
Team: HC Vagnerplast Kladno
Born: October, 28th, 1982
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 192 lbs.
Shoots: R
CSB final rank: not ranked

The runner-up to Ceske Budejovice standout Milan Michalek in the voting for the Czech senior
Extraleague 2001-2002 Rookie of the Year stunned the people around hockey with his spririted
performance after his callup from the Div I league at mid-season. Horava also skated alongside
gems Jiri Hudler and Ales Hemsky at the 2002 WJC and was able to draw serious concerns as the
best Czech player on the team. A dilligent grinder who takes pride in his strong work ethic
and a dedication to the game has the tools to develop into a consummate competitor. Horava
skates well and has an effective stride which enables him to maneuver through high traffic.
He packs a solid shot but still could work on the release and stickhandling. Miloslav sees
the ice quite well and is capable of smart passes. Albeit undersized, the stocky Horava has
no trouble with handling the defensive aspect of the game and definitely won’t hurt you in this.
Didn’t opt-in for the last draft, but this time could end up as some NHL team’s property.

Jakub Evan
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Vagnerplast Kladno
Born: February, 25th, 1984
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Shoots: L
CSB final rank: not ranked

Was a part of the junior national teams of the 1984 borns, even if not a regular and finally
wasn’t invited to the Under-18 WJC. He is a very solid skater even
if he still needs some improvement in this part. He has a nice portion of vision and hockey
sense to go along with his talent. He likes to carry the puck out of the defensive zone
and joins the rush frequently. Jakub has above-average stickhandling skills and is capable
of making smart outlet passes. His shots are just of average accuracy,
but quite easy to deflect. Evan
plays a superb positional game and is only seldom caught off position. Jakub’s problem
is his lack of physical contribution. He appears not to have a nasty edge to go along with
him and
is rather soft along the boards. Also doesn’t like huge traffic. A typcial finesse rearguard
needs to find his toughness and determination, else his NHL chances will be still on a bubble.

Overage picks

Jaroslav Balastik
Team: HC Continental Zlin
Position: right wing
Born: November, 20th, 1979
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 210 lbs.
Shoots: L

The power forward from Zlin recorded a stellar 2001-2002 Extraleague season which saw him
thriving on the Zlin elite line and finally proving his undisputed talent and strength.
Jaroslav skates well for a player of his size and has a very good balance on his
skates. He also posesses soft hands which are able to control the puck with ease and make
smart decisions with it.
He can take advantage of his superb upper-body strength to cover the puck with his
body easily and keep the attacking defensemen off him. Jaroslav has a bright vision and a
nice portion of hockey sense which contributes to his strong decision making. Once on the
puck, he can shoot and pass as well and overall he is a mix of the three s: size, speed and skill
It could happen that some NHL team may take a flyer on him in the later round.

David Nosek
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Ocelari Trinec
Born: February, 19th, 1981
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 202 lbs.
Shoots: R

The Trinec rearguard enjoyed a hot 2001-2002 run when he also appeared in the senior national
team and earned a reputation of one of the top Czech late-blooming defensemen.
David Nosek is an effortless skater with a fluid stride and very strong lateral movement.
Nosek relies on his extremly sound positioning and an ability to read the plays well, which
makes his play nearly mistake-free. Nosek has a terrific
ability to play the transitional play and his accurate outlet passes also contribute
to his offensive flair. David distributes the pucks effectively and can be very useful on
the powerplay, where he likes to unleash his blasts at the goalies as well as making
crisp passes as a powerplay quarterback. The only thing he still lacks is toughness,
David wasn’t born with a giant frame and could use more of a mean streak in his game. This
year Nosek showed his real upside and the NHL teams may be looking after him.

Jaroslav Hlinka
Position: left wing
Team: HC Sparta Praha
Born: November, 10th, 1976
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 184 lbs.
Shoots: L

Jaroslav Hlinka has proved his top-notch skill level with nearly winning the Czech senior
Extraleague scoring title this past season after an inspiring performance.
Jaroslav is a terrific skater who makes use of his blistering speed to slip through
the defenses and threaten the goalies. Hlinka has a very good use of his stick and is capable
of handling the traffic quite well. He is an intense set-up player who is able to score and
pass extremly well, even if he tends more to a playmaking role. On the downside
Jaroslav has to further develop his defensive skills and could definitely use a bigger
portion of toughness as he is a finesse winger. His lack of physical presence may make
his transition to North American hockey hard at the beginning. At nearly 26 years old,
Hlinka is reaching his prime, but
his stellar past season may help to open the doors to the NHL for him.

So, that would be it. I expect at least 10 Czech junior players to be picked during the first
three rounds of the draft, with the first round probably claiming a new record with up to
six Czech players challenging for a first round selection. The crop of overagers won’t be
very huge this year and most likely it won’t be more than three names. But it wouldn’t be the
show called NHL Entry Draft without some surprising picks, reachs or diamonds in the rough.
There will probably be picked players also not included on this list, but this will involve
probably the overagers. Some of those players may have a succesfull NHL career, some not.
We’ll see, I’ll follow
with a draft review of the selected Czech players soon after the draft. Enjoy the draft show!