Czech draft review

By Robert Neuhauser

Here is a look at the eighteen Czech selections in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft in order of their selection.

Milan Michalek
Position: left wing/center
Team: HC Ceske Budejovice
Birthdate: December, 7th, 1984
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: San Jose Sharks, 1st round, 6th overall

Milan Michalek is a smart forward who can play both center and left
wing. He boasts a powerful stride and is a very good skater.
Michalek is well-balanced and possesses solid speed and acceleration. A sturdy
forward, Michalek is able to use his size well against the opposing
players. His strength enables him to cover the puck well. Michalek works
hard on every shift and is a dilligent backchecker who helps out the
defense a lot. Michalek is blessed with superb puck skills and soft hands.
A creative forward, Michalek is an excellent playmaker who utilizes on
his strong vision. He has a quick and accurate wrist shot and a
powerful slap shot, which could be more accurate. Michalek still could shoot more often. For such a skilled player he should be more
productive.

Vojtech Polak
Position: right wing
Team: HC Energie Karlovy Vary
Birthdate: June, 27th, 1985
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 185 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Dallas Stars, 2nd round, 36th overall

Vojtech Polak is an talented forward with an excellent play in the
offensive zone. He has a nose for the net and thrives with the puck on his
stick. He is a very solid skater with a nice burst of speed and solid
balance. Polak is a smooth puckhandler who can make many elusive
moves to fool the defense and score. A superb stickhandler, Polak has both
his wrist and slap shot hard and accurate. He possesses solid passing
skills. Among his drawbacks is his intensity without the puck and
defensive awareness. Toughness is a thing to work on for him, Polak is more
of a finesse player and rough play can cause him some problems. He
doesn’t dish out hard hits and prefers the open ice more than battling heavy
traffic.

Kamil Kreps
Position: center
Team: Brampton Battalion (OHL)
Birthdate: November, 18th, 1984
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 187 lbs.
Shoots: R
Drafted: Florida Panthers, 2nd round, 38th overall

Kamil Kreps is an excellent skater for a player of his size. He has a
nice burst of speed and is capable of fast turns. Kreps is a skilled
forward who handles his stick extremly well and is blessed with great
puckhandling skills. He can play in traffic relatively well and his
strong vision and hockey sense allow him to pass the puck through holes
unseen by others. Kreps is also developing a nose for the net. He has an
above-average slap shot, but it still could be improved a bit. Kreps
could also use more
aggresiveness, he isn’t fully using his frame to his advantage. He is
trying to be more aware
defensively in order to be an all-round forward. Kreps still needs to
bulk up more, but he is an effective player who does the little things
well.

Petr Vrana
Position: center
Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Birthdate: March, 29th, 1985
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 175 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: New Jersey Devils, 2nd round, 42nd overall

Looking at Petr Vrana, you’ll immediately notice his excellent skills.
He has great
wheels and lot of quickness. Vrana is a dynamic forward who has a
natural gift for irritating
opponents and generating scoring chances. He possesses superb
stickhandling skills and is persistent around the goal area.
Vrana is a smart pivot who is strong on the puck. He displays a
commitment to the defensive side of his play. Even if he isn’t blessed with a hulking frame, he doesn’t fear
from the rough going and is willing to stick his nose into traffic
areas. He needs to bulk up and improve his aggresivness more. Petr isn’t
also a lethal shooter and even if he has a strong wrister, his slap shot
could see some improvement.

Michal Barinka
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Ceske Budejovice
Birthdate: June, 12th, 1984
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Chicago Blackhawks, 2nd round, 59th overall

Michal Barinka posesses great size and he doesn’t refuse to use it. He can throw hard hits
and be a force along
the boards. He is also a feared crease-clearer and isn’t afraid of the
rough stuff. He can
use his good reach very well, but his positioning can still be
upgraded, but it isn’t bad. Barinka possesses a hard slap shot with decent
accuracy. His
solid vision and hockey sense allows him to make solid passes, which
are accurate.
His drawback is his average skating and agility, but Barinka is working
on these things.
With a more fluid stride he could skate more effortlessly and handle
the game situations
better. An agent’s mistake made him ineligible in 2002, but still was
picked in the second round in 2003.

Martin Lojek
Position: defenseman
Team: Brampton Battalion (OHL)
Birthdate: August, 19th, 1985
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 221 lbs.
Shoots: R
Drafted: Florida Panthers, 4th round, 105th overall

Martin Lojek possesses an impressive size which allows him to throw
hard hits and sweep the crease effectively.
His defensive zone coverage is average, but Lojek tries to keep
his game simple and mistake-free. Better than making a risky play he
dishes the puck off
and makes the safe play. Lojek isn’t at the top of his game when
challenged by a forechecking opponent. He has very good reach but on the
offensive side he
doesn’t join the rush very often. Martin is more of a stay-at-homer who
has a booming shot.
He can fire hard blasts from the point, but they still need to be more
accurate. He has adequate
vision and average passing skills. Lojek has also to further develop
his skating and mobility, which isn’t very good. Better skating would
make him more effective.

Jan Hejda
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Birthdate: June, 17th, 1978
Hieght: 6’3”
Weight: 215 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Buffalo Sabres, 4th round, 106th overall

Jan Hejda is a reliable defenseman, who developed a decent offensive
upside during last season. At 6’3”, 215 lbs. Hejda possesses a great
size and he is willing to use it. He can throw good hits and is solid
along
the boards. Hejda is positionally quite sound but still can make some
strides here. He uses his good reach very well. Hejda possesses a hard
slap shot. Hejda is capable of solid passes with a good accuracy. His
drawback is his average skating and agility, faster opponents can cause him
little trouble. But overall Hejda is a nice mix of size, toughness,
defensive awareness and solid skills.

Patrik Valcak
Position: center/right wing
Team: HC Sareza Ostrava Jr.
Birthdate: December, 16th, 1984
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Boston Bruins, 4th round, 129th overall

Patrik Valcak is a slick skater with deceptive quickness. He boasts an
effortless stride and plays with lots of speed. Patrik is blessed with
good vision and is a smart playmaker. He often finds
passing lanes which are unseen by other players, but has also adequate
finishing skills. His wrist shot could be more accurate, but Patrik has a
nice release. His slap shot is solid, quite hard but a bit too
telegraphed. Valcak has a strong attitude and is a very coachable player. He
doesn’t shy away from the rough going, throwing solid hits. Valcak needs to
develop the defensive aspect of his game more, he isn’t a total
liability defensively, but it can’t be counted to his strengths.

Matej Trojovsky
Position: defenseman
Team: Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Birthdate: October, 12th, 1984
Height: 6’4.5”
Weight: 220 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Carolina Hurricanes, 4th round, 130th overall

Matej Trojovsky is a reliable stay-at-home defenseman who wants to have
his defensive duties done first before thinking about offense.
Thanks to his intriguing size 6’4.5”, 220 lbs. he emerges as an
intimidating physical presence. Trojovsky likes to use his body, he is a hard
hitter and plays with an edge. He doesn’t shy away from fighting and is
among the toughest Czech prospects. Trojovsky possesses a cannon of a
shot, but his rockets from the point could be more accurate. A big
man, Trojovsky still could use better skating skills and therefore more
mobility, which would make him more effective. He is now trying to
develop the offensive aspect of his game and reached some
success, even if his passing skills and offensive play still have a long way
to go before he can be called a defenseman with some offensive
upside.

David Svagrovsky
Position: right wing
Team: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Birthdate: December, 21st, 1984
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Shoots: R
Drafted: Colorado Avalanche, 4th round, 131st overall

David Svagrovsky didn’t have much trouble getting used to the WHL
style of play and is coming off a solid rookie season. A solid skater
for a player of his size, Svagrovsky plays with above-average speed and
balance. Blessed with an impressive size, Svagrovsky possesses solid
toughness and can dish out solid hits. David possesses very good
finishing skills and boasts a good wrist shot and an adequate slap shot.
Svagrovsky isn’t afraid of performing in heavy traffic and plays with solid
intensity and determination. He has good smarts, but could use better
passing skills in his play. He has to further develop his commitment to
defense.

Martin Tuma
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Litvinov Jr.
Birthdate: September, 14th, 1985
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 210 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Florida Panthers, 5th round, 162nd overall

Martin Tuma posesses a very solid size and is beginning to use it to his advantage. He isn’t afraid of the rough stuff and is
willing to make or take a hit.
Tuma is tough along the boards, but can clear the crease with more
intensity and toughness.
On the defensive side he reads the plays adequately and has a solid
positioning to
avoid defensive zone gaffes. But he is still quite raw and can use
better decision making with the puck. He is a so-so outlet passer,
therefore he can still work
on this skill. Martin has a very hard slap shot which is easily
tippable and can be used as
a pointman on the powerplay. Mobility and skating isn’t a problem for
him as he can rule the
defensive zone with his smooth stride and acceleration.

Lukas Bolf
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Sparta Praha Jr.
Birthdate: February, 20th, 1985
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 191 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Pittsburgh Penguins, 6th round, 169th overall

A sturdy blueliner, Lukas Bolf is a solid skater with a smooth stride
who brings a nice offensive flair to the table. He is capable of making
smart outlet passes and he uses his long reach very effectively. Bolf
quite often joins the rush and has solid shooting skills which are
useful on powerplay units. He only needs to showcase them more frequently
and fire the pucks more often. On the downside Bolf has to further
improve his positioning and defensive zone coverage, which is still among his
drawbacks. He tends to make mistakes under pressure and is still very
raw. The problem here is his slow decision making. He could also show
more of a nasty edge in his play. Didn’t have an overly good season, but
it didn’t effect his draft position very much.

Miroslav Kopriva
Position: goaltender
Team: HC Vagnerplast Kladno Jr.
Birthdate: December, 5th, 1983
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 187 lbs.
Catches: L
Drafted: Minnesota Wild, 6th round, 187th overall

Primarily a stand-up goalie, Miroslav Kopriva covers a lot of net with
his size. He boasts solid reflexes and moves well in the crease. A
hardworking netminder, Kopriva possesses good athleticism and doesn’t let a
bad goal bother him thanks to his mental toughness.
Kopriva stays focused and is getting rid of the penchant for occasionally
allowing a soft goal. He is tough to beat on all initial shots and has a
solid control of the rebounds. His stickhandling isn’t among
Kopriva’s strongest assets but he is working in this skill.

Miroslav Hanuljak
Position: goaltender
Team: HC Litvinov Jr.
Birthdate: September, 12th, 1984
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 165 lbs.
Catches: L
Drafted: Nashville Predators, 7th round, 213th overall

The biggest surprise pick in this year’s draft from the Czech point of
view, Miroslav Hanuljak is a quick, confident goaltender who didn’t get
much exposure on the international stage. Hanuljak boasts impressive
reflexes and quickness. He doesn’t cover much of the net, but is a solid
skater who moves well in the crease. Hanuljak possesses solid
athleticism and he anticipates the plays quite well, even if he should still
improve this asset. A mentally tough netminder, Hanuljak doesn’t let a bad
goal allow his play a lot. His stickhandling hasn’t come all the way
yet, but it is quite solid. Hanuljak could use a faster glove hand and
handle heavy traffic in front of him better.

Petr Kadlec
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Birthdate: January, 5th, 1977
Hieght: 5’11”
Weight: 176 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Florida Panthers, 8th round, 234th overall

A smooth, composed defenseman, Petr Kadlec impresses with his two-way
game. He is a talented puckrusher with above-average skills, he is able
to find passing lanes which are unseen by the other players and is a
strong outlet passer. Kadlec plays a positionally sound game. He doesn’t
fire rockets from the blue line, but his shots are accurate and quite
easy tipable. He is effective at bringing his shots through. Kadlec is
a solid skater who is very mobile, he could only use more balance in
his play. A mature player, Kadlec isn’t guilty of many defensive lapses
and his defensive zone coverage is effective. On the downside, he doesn’t
play the body very often and relies more on his finesse than toughness,
which won’t translate into immediate NHL success.

Jan Marek
Position: right wing
Team: HC Ocelari Trinec
Birthdate: December, 31st, 1979
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 178 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: New York Rangers, 8th round, 243th overall

Jan Marek is an excellent skater with a very fast acceleration and a
fluid stride. He is
capable of sharp turns and his speed is one of his biggest assets.
Marek handles the puck
well and has very smooth hands. He has a nose for the net and he doesn’t hesitate to shoot the puck. He prefers shooting and
has both his slap
and wrist shot very good. Marek possesses very good
vision and hockey sense.
He thrives on powerplay units and is a feared scorer. From the things
he has to work on there is defensive play first. As a finesse winger he
also doesn’t hit very hard and toughness is one thing he lacks. He can
get knocked off the puck by using power but thanks to his outstanding
smarts it doesn’t happen very often. Marek isn’t a traffic guy, he would
have a stellar European career but needs to work on his drawbacks to
upgrade his chances for a NHL career.

Josef Hrabal
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Vsetin
Birthdate: August, 17th, 1985
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 187 lbs.
Shoots: L
Drafted: Edmonton Oilers, 8th round, 248 overall

A smooth, composed defenseman, Josef Hrabal displays a smart two-way
game. He is more of a finesse rearguard with a strong creativity, he only
needs to keep his game simple and avoid unnecessary mistakes. Hrabel is
positionally sound and has very good passing skills. He doesn’t posess
a cannon of a shot, but his shots are accurate.
Hrabal has to mature more as he is sometimes guilty of some defensive
mistakes and his defensive zone intensity neeeds some improving. He
doesn’t show much of a mean streak and relies more on his finesse than on
toughness and mean streak. The key factor will be how far Josef is able
to upgrade his skating. He skates only average and could use a better
agility and balance in order to be a more complete player.

Zbynek Hrdel
Position: center
Team: Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Birthdate: August, 19th, 1985
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Shoots: R
Drafted: Tampa Bay Lightning, 9th round, 286th overall

Zbynek Hrdel emerges as a solid physical presence, willing to throw his
body around and fight for the pucks. Blessed with a solid frame, Hrdel
is an intense player who is involved in the games, playing them with
determination. An adequate skater for a player of his size, Hrdel
possesses a solid balance, but could stand to get quicker. One of his
strongest assets is his good variety of shots, Hrdel shoots the puck
hard and often. He could improve his awareness and work on
his passing skills in order to become an all-round forward. A valued team
player, Hrdel isn’t a total defensive liability but should show a
bigger commitment to the defensive duties.