QMJHL import players shine for their countries at the WJC

By Simon Richard





2005 Prospects: Alex Bourret







Sidney Crosby and Stephen Dixon are the only active QMJHL players on the
Canadian roster at the 2005 World junior Championship. However, there are eight
QMJHL players among the rosters of Russia,
Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Alexander Radulov (Quebec Remparts) is a key player for Russia. The talented forward told
Hockey’s Future in the Ralph Engelstad Arena in
Grand Forks that he was unsatisfied with the
game he has played against the USA.
Nevertheless, he said "I’m very honored to represent my country to this great
event." 

The 2004 first selection of Nashville
has scored two goals so far.

Four QMJHL players for the Czechs

Forwards Zbynek Hrdel
(Rimouski Oceanic), Petr
Vrana
(Halifax Mooseheads),
David Krejci and Michal
Kvapil
(both Gatineau
Olympics) are all defending the colors of the Czech Republic.

With two goals and one assist, Vrana (New Jersey, 2nd round, 2003) is the Czech
co-leader in points along with Rostislav Olesz (Florida,
7th overall, 2004).

Kvapil (undrafted) has two points. Krejci
(Boston, 2nd
round, 2004) and Hrdel (Tampa-Bay, 9th
round, 2003) have one point apiece.

Hrdel told
Hockey’s Future after his team practice on Tuesday December 28th
that he was thrilled to play at the World Juniors.

"I had the chance to chat with Sidney
[his Rimouski
teammate] a couple of times here in the arena. Sid
and I are close friends. If we ever play against each other during this
tournament, I’ll be very excited."  

Halak, Zagrapan and Lascek lead the
Slovaks

Goaltender Jaroslav
Halak
(Montreal,
9th round, 2003) didn’t play his best game in the 3-7 game
against Canada on December
25th, yet he came back strong against Finland two days later with a
shootout in a 2-0 game victory.

"Compared to our first game, we were better in all aspects of the
game," commented Halak.

"When I gave up rebounds, my defensemen were quick to get the puck.
We played together tonight, it was an easy game for me," added the best
goaltender of the 2003 U-18 World Championship and now Lewiston MAINEiacs member. 

Marek Zagrapan, a 2005 NHL draft eligible player,
missed that game due to an injury. Slovak coach Gregor Dusan
didn’t want to comment Zagrapan’s injury,
only saying that he should be back in the line-up later in the tournament.

Zagrapan, who is
ranked third in the QMJHL in the preliminary Central Scouting Bureau ranking,
scored a goal against Canada
and played very well despite his team’s loss. He has 42 points in 30
games so far in the QMJHL, placing him second, behind Radulov,
for the leading rookie scorers.

"I think that he is correctly ranked," Rimouski
Saguenens president [and Dallas Stars special
assistant GM] Guy Carbonneau told HF during the game
against Finland in Thief River
Falls
.

"He skates very well and has great hands. He has only played half
of a season in the QMJHL, so I think that if he can still improve his game in
the second part, he will go soon in the next NHL draft.”   

Asked if his friendship with Zagrapan’s agent and former Montreal Canadiens teammate Petr Svoboda has helped to convince the Slovak kid to play
with Rimouski, Carbonneau answered
while slightly smiling, "Zagrapan was on the
list of many CHL teams before the European draft last summer but, well, the
fact that I have a great relationship with Petr has
certainly helped.”   

 

The other QMJHLer
playing for Slovakia
is Stanislav Lascek. The
6’0 and 187-pounder was named the Slovak Player of the Game against Canada.

 

However, the third overall
QMJHL leading scorer before leaving for the Team Canada’s final
evaluation camp didn’t play well against Finland two days later.

 

Dusan
told HF he was disappointed with Lascek play on
Monday December 27th.

 

Lascek recognized
that his coach was right. "I didn’t play well tonight. Zaggy [linemate with  Rimouski] was not
with me tonight but whoever I’m playi
ng with, I should play
well."

 

Though he had a good regular
season last year and played very well in the finals, Lascek
remained undrafted last June.

 

"I have the chance to
show to the scouts here at the WJC what I’m capable of and I hope that I
will have the chance to be drafted next year," Lascek
said.

 

The Chicoutimi president
was surprised and upset that Lascek was undrafted. "He was the second
rookie leading scorer last year, only Crosby
did better than him," observed Carbonneau.

 

"Sure, his skating isn’t
the likes of Ovechkin or Zagrapan
for example, but he has many other skills. The Chicoutimi
Sagueneens management hopes that he will be drafted
next year,” concluded Carbonneau.

 

 

 

Simon
Richard is the author of La Serie du
siecle, Septembre 1972, a book
about the Summit
Series published in 2002.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of
the editorial staff.