In addition to the nine prospects profiled in Part I of the Slovak draft preview, there are some quality lower-ranked and overage prospects who could find their names called on Day 2 of the 2004 Entry Draft.
Finishing the Top 10…
10. Ladislav Scurko, C – Spisska Nova Ves
Born: June 8, 1986
CSS Rank: 38th among European skaters
Scurko is definitely the blue-collar candidate among Slovakian draft hopefuls, as he relies on his work ethic to make up for a lack of natural skill. He is a solid defensive pivot who is tireless in his pursuit of the puck. He isn’t afraid to do the dirty work in any zone, and he’s adept on faceoffs.
Coming into this season, scouts were concerned about his skating, which is a tad slow compared to his countrymen. From all accounts, his skating speed has improved sufficiently, and he has solid balance and strength on his feet.
Offensively, Scurko does his best work in front of the net, and plays a similar style to that of an early-career Joe Nieuwendyk. His passing skills are good enough to get the job done, and he certainly established a solid rapport with Juraj Gracik in tournament play.
Projected Draft Position: 6th or 7th round, projected as a defensive forward.
The best of the rest:
(56th EU) Juraj Prokop, W (Vsetin) – 5’11” 167 — 1 goal in 19 Extraliga games in his pro debut.
(67th EU) Peter Olvecky, W (Dukla Trencin) – 6’2” 185 — Had a solid pro debut with 16 games for Trencin’s senior squad.
(75th EU) Igor Bacek, RW (Bratislava) – 5’11” 169 — Played on the top line in international tournaments with Gracik and Scurko.
(84th EU) Vladimir Kubus, C (Poprad) – 5’11” 176
(160th NA) David Halasz, D (Ottawa 67s) – 6’1” 179
(90th EU) Marcel Ulehla, RW (Bratislava) – 6’3” 185
(119th EU) Erik Piatak, C (Poprad) – 6’1” 183
(186th NA) Juraj Liska, D (Acadie-Bathurst) 6’1” 185
(205th NA) Marek Hascak, C (Shawinigan) 6’2” 185
(134th EU) Ladislav Sikorcin, C (Trencin) – 6’0” 176
(147th EU) Filip Simka, D (Martin) – 6’0” 187
(158th EU) Tomas Bulik, C/W (Kosice) – 5’9” 185
Although the Europeans have almost been picked clean of older talent, there are still a few quality players available from Slovakia. Most notable are the two young players who made their international break outs at the World Championships in the Czech Republic: Dominik Granak and Roman Kukumberg.
1. Roman Kukumberg, RW – Dukla Trencin
Born: April 8, 1980
Stats: Regular Season (51 16-19-35 +37 95PIM)
Playoffs (11 4-8-12 +7 14PIM)
Following a similar career path to the Penguins’ Tomas Surovy, albeit a year or two slower, Kukumberg ripped apart the Slovak First Division before a promotion to the Extraleague, where his great two-way play earned him a spot on the World Championship squad.
Kukumberg has good size and he’s an excellent skater with great speed. He is solid playmaker who is able to score or pass, although he won’t likely be an elite point producer.
Due to his speed and style of play he is often used in shorthanded situations. Though his numbers on Extraliga were too extravagant, he always proved to be a very valuable forward for his team. Furthermore, he played on the national team in several tournaments, where he performed very well.
Kukumberg didn‘t record any goals or assists at the World Championships, but his play on fourth line was first-class defensively and he earned a good reputation amongst the press.
During the tournament, he skated on the checking line and impressed in shorthanded situations as well. Kukumberg is very comparable to Radovan Somik, and could make a workable defensive expert for an NHL club.
2. Dominik Granak, D – Slavia Prague
Born: June 11, 1983
Stats: Regular Season (51 2-5-7 –2 42PIM)
Playoffs (19 0-4-4 +7 10PIM)
Granak was omitted in previous draft years although his talent and skills were much better then skills of some of the other Slovakian kids who were selected. His size was/is a question, as he is rather thin for a defenseman, and that is likely why scouts do not trust him, even though his performances were no doubt very impressive. Granak is great skater, reads the play pretty well, passes the puck accurately and timely, and plays with poise around own his own net.
His second season in the Czech Extraleague was much better than his rookie one, as he played with more confidence and saw more ice time. At the beginning of the season, he was little bit shy, but later he came together and improved in every game.
Granak (as did Kukumberg) played in several tournaments for the national team. His performances were not spectacular except for the last one (Swiss Cup), which was his real breakthrough. His performance at this tournament, together with an excellent playoff performance, earned him spot on national team for the World Championships.
Granak impressed at the WC tournament, especially in games against the Canadian and U.S. teams, when he proved that he was able to play well against NHL caliber talent. His WC performance likely finally opened the eyes of many scouts, and an NHL team may finally take a chance on this skilled defender.
Granak will certainly need to put on weight to succeed in the NHL, but he can draw inspiration from Lubomir Sekeras, another thin defenseman that succeeded in spite of a lack of massive muscle mass.
3. Karol Krizan, G
(05.06.1980 – 5‘10“ 183 lb.)
HKM Zvolen 52 GP 3156 min. 2,00 GAA 0.936%
Krizan has good reflexes and positioning, and he is the best goalie in the Slovak Extraliga. His stickhandling is the best amongst all Slovak goalies, even taking into consideration goalies playing in North America.
‘Krazy’ Karol still has problems with blowing his stack, and this has kept him off of the national team, for the most part. This aspect of his game has improved, but a lack of international exposure will limit his chances.
4. Tomas Frolo, D
(26.01.1982 – 6‘2“ 198 lb.)
HC Vsetin 44 GP 1–0–1+1 133 PIM
Frolo is tough stay-at-home rearguard with very little offensive potential, much like Boris Valabik. Though he played on a weak team, his plus/minus rating is quite impressive. Frolo was a key-player for his team, despite his youth. He is very strong on his skates, loves physical play, cleans space around own net pretty well, and dominates along the boards. Unfortunately, Frolo hasn‘t played any games on the national team this season, and this might be real a handicap.
5. Juraj Stefanka, RW
(28.01.1976 – 6’3” 210 lb.)
HC Vitkovice 42 GP 13–15–28 +15 48 PIM Regular season
6 GP 0–4–4 +1 16 PIM Playoffs
Stefanka is an experienced two-way forward. He is big and strong, and works very hard at both ends of the ice. He plays hard in every situation, and is built well enough to succeed in the North American game as a serviceable defensive role player.
On the other hand he’s not a youngster anymore. He is a 28-year-old, and the selection of an older player who doesn’t dominate in any one aspect would be a real surprise. There was some noise that Stefanka would have been taken last year, and there is a small chance that he could get taken in the ninth round this year.
Overall, this draft is deep in quality and quantity for the Slovaks. There is a real possibility that Slovakia will have two first round picks, one overage pick, and ten picks taken overall. While not quite the glory days of the Marian Gaborik era, this draft proves that Slovakia can still produce a good crop of quality hockey prospects.