Czech 2003 prospects: Martin Krayzel

By Robert Neuhauser
There is an old proverb saying that “an apple doesn’t fall apart from a tree”. Hockey-wise
it is defintely valid as most of the players on every national team are sons of former
players and coaches. The next one in this long row is Vitkovice forward Martin Krayzel.

Already since the time Martin Krayzel was born, he had hockey all around him. No wonder, he
was born in a large hockey family, just like for example current New York Rangers forward
Bobby Holik. Both Holik and Martin Krayzel had his fathers and uncles playing hockey
and could receive many valuable tips from experienced people. Martin’s father enjoyed a
succesfull hockey career and even won the championship trophy in the former Czechoslovakian
Elite League. But it was Martin’s uncle, Ludek Krayzel, who did have an immediate influx
on Martin’s selection what sport to choose. When the small Martin made his first visits to
the local hockey arena in Vitkovice, Ludek Krayzel was performing in the junior ranks and
Martin had a direct role model. He liked the game very much so when it came to the final
decision what sport to do, Martin had an easy choice.

His father taught him skating and all the basic hockey skills already as soon as Martin could
walk and at the age of six he began to regularly attend hockey practices of the youngest
grade of the Ostrava-based Vitkovice team. Suddenly the franchise had two Krayzels in their
system – Ludek and the young Martin. But from the very first time Martin was nicknamed ‘Ludek’
after his uncle and this nickname he maintained till these days. Vitkovice 1st grade coaches
saw that Martin inherited from his father a talent to create chances and score goals, so
they slotted him to play the forward position and Martin didn’t feel the need of a change.
He listened to all the tips given to him and after some time he proved that he is one of
the most talented kids on the team. Martin learned how to handle a leading role and be the
scorer the team relies upon. He realised that he won’t fill the bill without posessing
excellent skating skills and began to concentrate on various skating drills and powerskating
lessons to upgrade his agility and make his stride smooth and effective. Martin chose his
hockey role model also based on marvellous skating, Martin admires New York Rangers’ swift
skating forward Martin Rucinsky (now an unrestricted free agent) most.

The other thing then
were his off-ice workouts, because Martin also knew from his father and uncle that in the
older age cathegories he won’t succeed without proper strength and will be pushed out of
scoring chances. So Martin’s everyday life was consisting of school till noon and then
either a hockey practice or working out, sometimes both. This payed its dividends and Martin
was dominant for the Vitkovice team of the 1985 borns. Already in the system of an Extraleague
team, not to say one of the famous teams of the Czech hockey history, Martin didn’t feel
the necessity of moving to another town where he would face better competition. He was
honing his skills in Vitkovice and was happy there. He was also sticking to his favorite
number, 8. He has a simply reason why to wear exactly 8 – nobody else on the team wanted
this number, so Martin chose it.

Martin enjoyed his first major success at a prestigeous tournament between the top 7th grade
teams of the Czech Republic. He played on fire there, earning Top Forward and Top Goalscorer
honors, besides making a huge name for himself. And when it was about to pick a captain for
the next season, the Vitkovice 7th grades had only one candidate, Martin Krayzel. The
season he wore the ‘C’ for the 7th grade team was also his most succesfull one before he
was playing for the midgets. Martin scored and scored and emerged as a huge offensive threat.
The following season he was stripped off capitancy and his offensive output also saw some
decrease, but Martin could bounce back with a strong year for the Vitkovice 9th grades,
the last year before moving up to the midget ranks. He rediscovered his scoring touch and was
one of the team’s leaders before Vitkovice midgets head coach Kuridym promoted him to the
midget team to see if he can handle the faster and tougher midget Extraleague even as an
underage. Martin coped with that role well and showed that the Vitkovice midgets can count on
him the next season as a regular. Martin skated 6 games with the Vitkovice midgets in 1999-
2000, scoring 2 points for 1 goal and 1 assist. These are very solid numbers for an underaged
rookie.

No wonder that the Under-16 team coaches Karel Najman and Jaroslav Beck were aware of these
facts and invited Martin to the spring selection camp. There he left a good impression and
could count on beginning his international career in 2000-2001.
Martin Krayzel’s biggest asset is his great skating ability. He has a fluid stride, turns on
a coin and has a nice burst of speed. Martin is an intense competitor who is always involved
in the games, playing them at high determination. He fights for the pucks in the corners
and despite his smallish 5’10”, 173 lbs. frame isn’t afraid of going in front of the
opposing net. Krayzel is a smooth passer and is effective on both powerplay and penalty killing
units. He is also aware defensively and when needed, can fill the grinding role. Martin
isn’t blessed with a terrific vision and sometimes doesn’t read the play very well. These
are his drawbacks and Martin must also further improve his average puckhandling skills and
playing in the traffic. Martin doesn’t have top-notch skills, but is a versatile guy who
sticks his nose into everything and is very coachable. Still very raw, Martin needs maturity
most and has a decent chance to become a late-rounder in the next NHL Entry Draft.

The next midget Extraleague season Martin split between two teams as he was loaned to the
Havirov midgets for 14 games. He helped the team quite a lot as he scored exactly 0.5 points
per game, finishing at 7 points for 3 goals and 4 assists in those 14 games. He also learned
to show more of his nasty edge as he recorded 39 PIMs. Now fully accustomed to the midget
play, Martin returned to the Vitkovice midgets for the remainder of the season. Even if he
didn’t see lots of ice time on powerplays and the elite two lines, he could score at the same
pace as in Havirov. In 30 games for the Vitkovice midgets in 2000-2001 Martin recorded 16
points for 8 goals and 8 assists while also racking up 22 PIMs.

On the international stage Martin played three tournaments, the most succesfull being the
first one, a three-game series against the Under-16 team of Slovakia. There he recorded his
only international point that season, an assist. Besides performing in a three-game series
against the Under-17 team of Switzerland Martin also played at the main tournament in the
season, the Four Nations Tournament, played in Russia. The Czechs won this tourney and this
is so far the biggest success of Martin’s international career.

The 2001-2002 was the last of Martin’s midget eligibility. He was expected to step up for
the Vitkovice midget and fill the leader’s role. He also wore the ‘C’ on his jersey again
as the coaches saw that he is the right person for the captain duties. The character
guy Martin provided very solid offense and eventually provided a checking role as he turned
into a hard hitter. Martin worked during the summer to upgrade his toughness and this were
the first results. In 34 games Martin notched 27 points for 13 goals and adding 14 helpers
to go along with 135 PIMs.
But the last season there was one more experience waiting for Martin and it was a big one.
He became one of the very few Czech midget-aged players to spent playing time in Sweden.
Miloslav Horava broke through as a product of the MoDo system and Martin Krayzel could be
also inspiring for the other Czech as he enjoyed a succesfull two-month stint with the
HV 71 midgets. He liked playing there and the HV 71 is also his favorite European team.
From the NHL teams Martin Krayzel prefers the New Jersey Devils, a team he would like to
play someday in the future.

His international play suffered from this a bit. Martin appeared in just 3 international
contests for the Under-17 team in 2001-2002, going scoreless and recording 2 PIMs.
But this season he will probably be a regular with the Czech Under-18 team. He proved this
at the World Junior Cup in August, where he skated on the first line with Rostislav Olesz
and Ivo Kratena. In 5 games there Martin notched 1 assist.

If the bus with Martin and his teammates would be stuck somewhere in a cold, snowy night,
it would be him who would be a good person to take care of preparing food for his mates.
Martin is in his third year of learning how to be a cookie in the local Ostrava school.
And so what is his favorite food he likes to cook and eat? It’s goulash with slaw, in the
Czech Republic called ‘Segedin goulash’ and to drink a bottle of coke.
He sticks still to his workouts and when you won’t find him cooking at school, you’ll most
likely find him in a gym working out. Martin visits the gym almost daily before or after
the practices and he nearly can’t imagine his life without the gym. But it’s not only about
working out, Martin also likes to play other sports like soccer and tennis with his mates.
And when it comes down to resting, then Martin prefers just to watch various TV movies
and relax.

Martin has clear goals for this season. Play his rookie season for the Vitkovice juniors,
getting used to the junior Extraleague and maintain his spot with the Czech Under-18 team.
The next season then he plans to come over and hone his skill in the CHL. He hopes of being
drafted next June in Nashville and this dream can really come true. Martin wants to make
his living with hockey and of course dreams of the NHL. Good luck!