Slovakia draft review by player

By Tomas Egry

Ten Slovakian players were drafted this year. There weren`t any first
round picks, but it was a solid draft year for Slovakia.

Ivan Baranka

Dubnica Division 1
May 19, 1985
6`2“ 185
Drafted by New York Rangers  in
2nd round  50th

Ivan Baranka plays for his hometown team Dubnica. He mostly played in
Slovak Junior Extraliga, but have played around 20 games also in Division 1, a
second senior level in Slovakia. He was the key defenseman for the Slovak U18
squad that won a silver medal at World Championship in Russia.

He is a combination of physical player and positioning. Having average
size he can skate very well. His acceleration and agility are better than
average. His biggest strength is playing without the puck. He blocks opponents’
forechecking players that gives more time to his partner to get the puck out of
their own zone. He creates space along the boards for his teammates. He has
solid slap shot, but needs a lot of time for its preparation.

Next season Baranka plans to play in CHL. He would like to play his first
career playoffs there.

Branislav Fabry

Slovan Bratislava
Left Wing
January 15, 1985
6`0“ 185
Drafted by Buffalo Sabres in 2nd round 65th overall

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, does not develop many drafted
players. The most known players are Stanislav Gron or Marian Cisar. The Stastny
brothers were the only Bratislava players who have made an impact in NHL. The
group of in 1985 born players appears to be very strong here in Bratislava.
Goalie Jaroslav Halak and forwards Ivan Dornic and Branislav Fabry show that
Bratislava can develop solid hockey players.

Fabry finished season 2001-02 as Slovak midget champion. Slovan has a
very strong group of players born in 1985 so Fabry had to work very hard to find
his place in junior team, but as the season processed he became a first liner
having a lot of responsibility. He played few games in Slovak Extraliga.
Branislav was also a key player of Slovak U18 National Team. He had a great
performance at the WJC in Jaroslavl scoring 3 goals and 2 assists in 7 games. He
helped Slovakia to qualify for the finals where the team lost against Canada.

Fabry is not an extremely skilled player. He is great skater with
marvelous balance. This attribute helps him in fore-checking and along the
boards. He always finds a space between the defenseman and boards to skate.
Fabry has poor shot arsenal. He prefers slap shot even if a wrist shot would be
more effective. Sometimes he appears to be one-dimensional when he isn`t able to
change his play according to the opponent`s team strategy. Slovan Bratislava
declared to give Fabry a chance on the men`s team, so he will probably stay in
Bratislava in next season. He looks up to Ilya Kovalchuk from the Atlanta

Richard Stehlik

Sherbrooke QMJHL           


June 22, 1984         


Drafted by Nashville Predators
in 3rd round 76th overall

Richard Stehlik should have been drafted in 2002 Entry Draft, but his
agent forgot to opt him in. That time he was ranked 24th among
European skaters by CSS. In 2002 he finished his second professional season in
Slovak Extraliga for his hometown team Skalica. In the middle of the season
Skalica changed coaches and the new coach prefered older players. After being
not drafted, Stehlik changed his agent and decided to play in Canada. He was
drafted by  Sherbrooke Castors (QMJHL)
one year ago. In December, Stehlik represented Slovakia at WJC for the second
time. While other “Quebec” defensemen Milan Jurcina and Peter Macek
injured at the begining of the tournament, Stehlick saw a lot of ice-time.
Slovakia finished fifth which is a very good result for low skilled team.

Stehlick is a big defenseman with good mobility. He is able to makes big
hits. He is also very experienced for his young age having played two seasons in
Slovak Extraliga and one season in QMJHL. He also played for Slovakia at one U18
WC and two WJCs. His hard slap shot is his best offensive skill. Stehlik has all
attributes for becoming an NHL defenseman. He has size, skill, skating and
attitude. He only needs some time to develop. He will probably stay in Lewiston
(moved from Sherbrooke) next season.

Stefan Ruzicka

HKm Nitra   Division 1         

Right Wing           

February 17.1985          


Drafted by Philadelphia Flyers  in
3rd round 81st

Stefan Ruzicka drew attention last season being only 16 when playing 19
games in Slovak Extraleague. Unfortunately, Nitra lost the relegation series
against Spisska Nova Ves and this season Ruzicka played only in Division 1.
Ruzicka also has solid international experience, because in April he took part
at his second U18 WJC.

Ruzicka is natural goal scorer who loves shooting from each position. His
play always elevates when the game goes near the end. Even if Ruzicka is pretty
strong he doesn`t have enough courage along the boards or in front of the net.
He is also very inconsistent player. One shift he scores highlight goal and next
shift he makes stupid mistake that helps the opposing team. Ruzicka will
probably stay with Nitra and play in the Slovak Extraliga. He will be the key
player of Slovak team at WJC in Finland.

Martin Sagat

Dukla Trencin  Slovak JR       

Left Wing           

November 11, 1984           

6`3“ 191

Drafted by Toronto Maple Leafs in 3rd
round 91st overall

Martin Sagat is another prospect from Dukla Trencin. He drew attention of
NHL scouts at the U18 World Championship in 2002. He was the top player in week
Slovak team. In the team`s most important game at the tournament against Sweden
he scored two goals.

Sagat was leader of Dukla`s junior team. He was the No. 1 forward scoring
a lot of important goals. Unfortunately, he played only 17 games in Slovak

He has good size and he uses it very well along the boards. In offensive
zone he can create a space for his linemates. He is also very strong in one on
one situations. Having a combination of big size and precise skating it is hard
to stop him. He needs many scoring chances to score a goal. His shot arsenal and
accuracy are not completed, either. Sagat should see more ice-time in Slovak
Extraliga in upcoming season.

It is not a big surprise him going to Maple Leafs. Last summer Robert
Svehla and Toronto had a specific clause in his contract. Part of his salary
went to Dukla Trencin and Trencin provided Toronto with information about their
prospects. We can say that drafting Sagat was the part of Svehla`s contract.


Stefan Blaho

Dukla Trencin   Slovak JR       


June 22, 1984                     


Drafted by New York Islanders in 4th
round 120th overall 

Blaho is very gritty player valuable for Trencin and the Slovak National
Team. His work ethic is marvelous, because he tries hard every shift. No puck
seems to be lost for him, but it`s not only his grittiness which makes him
important for every team he plays. Blaho is useful for powerplay and penalty
killing, too. On the powerplay he shows his great orientation in front of the
net trying to deflect or rebound shots from the blueline. You can see his strength
in the corners where he wins a lot of pucks. Having good support by his
teammates he mostly brings the puck into the scoring chance. He showed it at
summer World Cup when he and Vladimir Kutny prepared many scoring chances for
Pavol Stastny.

Blaho doesn`t have a good position in Dukla Trencin`s organization. Dukla
has enough solid wingers and if they miss one they call up another 2003 draft
eligible prospect Martin Sagat. Spending a lot of time in Slovak junior league
could demotivate him and stop his development. He is another silver medalist
from U18 WC.


Ivan Dornic

Slovan Bratislava Slovak JR       


April 12, 1985                     

6`0“   183

Drafted by New York Rangers  in
2nd round 50th

Dornic is the second drafted player from the Fabry- Dornic duo. He had
very short way to play hockey, because his father Ivan played hockey in the
80`s. He was the top player of Slovan Bratislava and in 1984 he was drafted by
Edmonton 126th overall. Now, he is coach of Slovan`s junior team and
tutor of his son. Dornic jr. played his last season under the coaching of his
father in junior team of Slovan Bratislava. Along with Fabry he was the key
player also in Slovak U18 Team. He played six games in Slovak Extraliga
finishing with one goal.

Dornic is not an extremely skilled player. He obviously will never be a
top scorer in any league, but he has the potential to become the top defensive
specialist. It is rare to see a 17 year-old forward being so responsible on
defense. Many times you could see him being the last man who stopped opponent
player. In his own zone he plays like a veteran. He knows where to stay, when to
check or how to block the opponent player. He doesn`t have fantastic offensive
talent, but he can work hard in the corners or in front of the net.

Denis Rehak

Dukla Trencin              
Slovak JR            Defenseman   
May 14, 1985         

Drafted by New York Islanders                      
in 7th round              
212th overall

Rehak played this season in Dukla Trencin`s junior team. Rehak was in the
camp of Slovak U18 team before World Championship, but the coach sent him home
in last elimination. It was his only contact with representation of Slovakia.

Vladimir Kutny

Quebec City

Left Wing   

August 22, 1985           


Drafted by Detroit Red Wings  in
8th round  258th

Kutny finished his first season in QMJHL. He played for Quebec Remparts,
Memorial Cup hosting team. Kutny`s career is very similar with one of Milan
Jurcina. Both players were the leaders of their junior teams here in Slovakia.
Unfortunately, they haven`t seen any time in Slovak Extraliga. Both were also
key players of Slovak U17 National Team. One year before their NHL draft
eligibility they were high touted by NHL scouts. They decided to come over and
play in QMJHL. Like Jurcina, Kutny also didn`t have good premier season in
Canada and his stock has fallen.

Kutny is a big player with great balance. He works hard along the boards and
creates alot of space for his linemates. Having strong arms he wins many pucks.
Kutny will go back to Quebec, because he still needs to gain experience. His
position in the team will increase, because some overage players will leave the

Jaroslav Halak

Ruzinov Division 1           


May 13, 1985         


Drafted by Montreal Canadiens  in
9th round 271st

Halak had a very tough year. He started the season in Slovan Bratislava`s
junior team, but the coach preferred older goalie Jozef Ondrejka. The management
decided to loan him to Ruzinov, the second hockey team in Bratislava. Halak had
no problem with it, because he grew up there. Ruzinov was the new team in
Division 1 and they had big problems in the first part of the season. The team
was extremely weak and lost most of the games with high score difference. Having
Halak in the net and several junior players from Slovan, the team started became
the equal opponent for all other teams. Halak was facing around 50 shots every
game and it helped him very much. He was the best player of the team, but
Ruzinov wasn`t able to jump in the standings and stayed in last. The team was
eliminated into Division 2 and Halak was very unhappy, but his season wasn`t
still finished.

For the whole season Halak was the starting goalie in Slovak U18 team. He
started U18 WC as No. 1 goalie and he was so good that his backup goalie Roznik
didn`t play at all at the tournament. He won silver medals and was named the
best goaltender of the tournament.

Halak is static goalie and stays in the crease in most cases. He also
needs to improve his stickhandling and passing, because sometimes he is too
fearful to make a pass. He is able to face many shots in one game. Halak will
need many years to make NHL, but he has that potential.


In 2004 Slovakia will provide prospects like Andrej Meszaros, Michal Sersen,
or Jaroslav Markovic.