NHL Drafts – Slovak Review (1988 – 1999)

By Daniel Kysel

As the date of the NHL draft comes closer, people look forward to this big day in the life of these 18-20 year old prospects. Slovak fans are no exception to this rule.

Many scouts and GM’s could take a lesson from past drafts in order to avoid missing out on some good Slovak prospects. I can draw your attention to the fact that many scouts think Slovakia is just Bratislava (Slovak capital located in western part of the country) and maybe 50 miles from there. They have omitted and still omit the kids from central and eastern Slovakia where some teams e.g. Martin, Poprad, Banska Bystrica, Kosice, Zvolen, are grooming very talented prospects – Svehla, Bondra, Suchy, Bartecko, Handzus, Zednik, Orszagh, Petrovicky, Nagy, Vaic etc. All these players grew up neither in Bratislava nor in western Slovakia. Dear scouts, do not forget to travel across Slovakia to see other rinks, not just Bratislava, Nitra and Trencin.

However, I do not want to write about new prospects (it will be in my next article). My target is to review the players who have already been drafted.

I will start in 1988 because the other players drafted before this year retired except for two 40-year-old veterans – Igor Liba (37 games on L.A. and N.Y.R.) and Miroslav Ihnacak (56 games on Toronto).

Explanatory note:

Name, year of birth, NHL team and No. of pick, position, team in draft year, mother team, last season team

1988


Zdeno Ciger (1969) New Jersey #54, forward, Trencin, Martin, Bratislava (Extraliga) – Zdeno played 296 games and collected 203 points playing in the NHL. He is still a dominating player on Slovak Elite (further Extraliga). He captained Slovan Bratislava to Slovak championship. I feel sure you cannot find any other Slovak player who rejects lucrative offers from NHL teams like Zdeno. He confirmed his interest to skate in Predators jersey in January but now has refused to play in the NHL. Oh, Zdeno.

1989

Oto Hascak (1964) Boston #143, forward, Trencin, Martin, retired – Oto retired before last season.

1990

Ivan Droppa (1972) Chicago #72, defenseman, L.Mikulas, L.Mikulas, Kassel (German Elite) – Ivan played 19 games in the NHL but mostly he skated in the minors. He played last 3 season in Europe. He does not dream about NHL yet and signed a new contract with the German team Dusseldorf.

Lubomir Kolnik (1968) New Jersey #116, forward, Trencin, Nitra, Bratislava (Extraliga) – Lubo was very talented but too comfortable. He is satisfied with Bratislava’s jersey on Extraliga.

Roman Kontsek (1970) Washington # 135, forward, Trencin, Zilina, Havirov (Czech Elite) – Roman struggled with injuries in Czech Elite.

Jergus Baca (1965) Hartford #141, defenseman, Kosice, L.Mikulas, Oberhausen (German Elite) – Jergus captained his German team. He is definitely a Slovak nomad. As a senior he played in the following leagues: Slovak Division 1, Czecho-Slovak Elite, NHL (10 games in Hartford), AHL, IHL, Swedish, Czech, Slovak and German Elites.

Peter Bondra (1968) Washington #156, froward, Kosice, Poprad, Washington – Peter is the Capitals’ superstar.

Ladislav Karabin (1970) Pittsburgh, forward, Bratislava, S.N.Ves, Oberhausen (German Elite) – Laco played several seasons in the minors and 9 games in the NHL. Last season he was a team-mate of Baca in Germany. He will stay in Germany next season.

1991

Zigmund Palffy (1972) N.Y. Islanders #26, forward, Nitra, Skalica, L.A. – Ziggy is the Kings’ super-scorer.

Jozef Stumpel (1972) Boston #40, forward, Nitra, Nitra, L.A. – Jozef and Ziggy shined as 18 year old kids on Czecho-Slovak Elite. Now they shine in California.

1992

Robert Petrovicky (1973) Hartford #9, forward, Trencin, Zilina, Tampa Bay – I wish Robert would find a spot on the first or second lines on Tampa.

Jozef Cierny (1974) Buffalo #35, forward, Zvolen, Zvolen, Nurnberg (German Elite) – Jozef had several very good seasons in the minors but just 1 game in the NHL. The last two seasons he played in Germany.

Robert Svehla (1969) Calgary #78, defenseman, Trencin, Martin, Florida – Robert is the most experienced Slovak D-man in the NHL.

1993

Miroslav Satan (1974) Edmonton #111, forward, Trencin, Topolcany, Buffalo – Those who watched WC2000 from St.Petersburgh know Miro is able to score 60 – 70 goals in one season but he’d need better line-mates on Buffalo.

Richard Safarik (1975) Buffalo #116, forward, Hull (QMJHL), Nitra, Zilina (Slovak Division 1) – He has played in just Division 1. Oh, NHL where are you.

Martin Strbak (1975) Los Angeles #223, defenseman, Presov, Presov, Litvinov (Czech Elite) – After season 1998-99, I had thought he was definitely a lost prospect like Safarik. He has just played in Division 1. But he played pretty well in the Czech elite this season. He surprised me with a very good performance at WC 2000.

Pavol Demitra (1974) Ottawa #227, forward, Trencin, Dubnica, St.Louis – Blues’ superstar

1994

Rudolf Vercik (1976) N.Y.Rangers #52, forward, Bratislava, Bratislava, Bratislava (Extraliga) – Rudo had excellent performances in EHL as well as the playoffs but he was too average in the regular season. He is still a talented prospect but he needs to play with more effort in each game.

Richard Zednik (1976) Washington #249, forward, B.Bystrica, B.Bystrica, Washington – Very good player and may follow in Bondra’s footsteps on Caps team.

Radoslav Kropac (1975) N.Y.Rangers #260, forward, Bratislava, Bratislava, Bratislava (Extraliga) – After NHL camp last fall he came back to Slovakia but has disappointed his fans and coaches and played mostly on Trnava – Division 1.

Jan Lipiansky (1974) Philadelphia #270, forward, Bratislava, Bratislava, Bratislava (Extraliga) – Jano is a very good player in the Extraliga but he did not succeed in either the Czech or Finnish leagues in the past couple of years. Maybe he will next season because he signed a contract with Czech vice-champion – Vsetin.

1995

Radovan Somik (1977) Philadelphia #100, forward, Martin, Martin, Martin (Slovak Div.1)- Rado was one of the best players in Division 1. Although he has lead his team to the Elite, he has signed a new contract with a Czech elite team – Zlin. Next season will show if Rado is still an NHL prospect.

Michal Handzus (1977) St.Louis #101, forward, B.Bystrica, B.Bystrica, St. Louis – Michal is a nominee for the Selke Trophy and a future star in the NHL.

Vladimir Orszagh (1977) N.Y.Islanders #106, forward, B.Bystrica, B.Bystrica, N.Y. Islanders & Lowell (AHL) – Vlado is a good player but has played just 35 games in the NHL in 3 seasons. After four seasons in the AHL he expects to find a regular spot on the Islanders team. If not, he will prefer to play in Europe (Finland, Sweden).

Peter Slamiar (1977) N.Y.Rangers #143, forward, Zvolen, Zvolen, Sp.N.Ves (Extraliga) – Peter started the season in Division 1 and finished on Elite but he did not prove his talent.

Martin Cerven (1977) Edmonton #161, forward, Trencin, Trencin, Trenton & Charlotte (ECHL) – Martin’s review: 1997-98 AHL, 1998-99 AHL & ECHL, 1999-00 ECHL. Do you need more comments?

Jaroslav Obsut (1976) Winnipeg #188, defenseman, N.Battleford (SJHL), Presov, Worcester (AHL) – Jaro had a very good training camp with the Blues. Maybe he could taste the NHL ice, but he suffered a knee injury in October.

Milan Kostolny (1976) Hartford #191, forward, Detroit (OHL), Trencin, N/A – He did not play in either Slovak leagues or top European Elites.

1996

Marian Cisar (1978) Los Angeles #37, forward, Bratislava, Bratislava, Nashville & Milwaukee (IHL) – Marian has played in 3 NHL games. Finally somebody from Bratislava has played in the NHL. Last player who came to the NHL from Slovan Bratislava was Dusan Pasek in 1988-89 even though many of Bratislava’s kids were selected by NHL teams. Slovan is the most famous Slovak team but this team has trouble in raising kids for the NHL.

Zdeno Chara (1977) N.Y.Islanders #56, defenseman, Sparta Prague (Czech), Trencin, N.Y.Islanders – Tall, strong, and my favorite D-man.

Richard Lintner (1977) Phoenix #119, defenseman, Trencin, Trencin, Nashville & Milwaukee (IHL) – After 33 games in the NHL, Richard hopes to find a regular spot on the Nashville team.

Andrej Podkonicky (1978) St.Louis #196, forward, Zvolen, Zvolen, Worcester (AHL) – Andrej is waiting for an NHL chance in the minors.

Ivan Ciernik (1977) Ottawa #216, forward, Nitra, Nitra, Grand Rapids (IHL) – Will his presence in the Turner Cup finals be enough to start him going in the NHL?

Lubomir Vaic (1977) Vancouver #227, forward, Kosice, Sp.N.Ves, Vancouver & Syracuse (AHL) – Small player with big heart. He hopes to sign a one-way contract with any NHL team. If not, he will play in the German Elite.

Ronald Petrovicky (1977) Calgary #228, froward, P.George (WHL), Zilina, St.John (AHL) – Ron had a very good season in the AHL. If he has a good training camp he might get a chance to play in the NHL next season.

1997

Marian Hossa (1979) Ottawa #12, forward, Trencin, Trencin, Ottawa – Marian is a rising NHL star.

Robert Dome (1979) Pittsburgh #17, forward, Las Vegas (IHL), Skalica, Pittsburgh & Wilkes (AHL) – Very talented, but needs more effort in order to play in the NHL regularly.

Stanislav Gron (1979) New Jersey #38, forward, Bratislava, Bratislava, Albany (AHL) – Solid season on Devils’ farm team. What about next season.

Karol Bartanus (1979) Boston #81, forward, Drummondville (QMJHL), L.Mikulas, L.Mikulas (Extraliga) – Karol was a big prospect three years ago. Last season he struggled in the Extraliga. He wasted his big talent. I am afraid he is definitely lost for the NHL.

Jiri Bicek (1979) New Jersey #131, forward, Kosice, Kosice, Albany (AHL) – Jiri had 3 solid seasons in the AHL. I hope this hard working guy will get a chance to skate on an NHL team.

Ladislav Nagy (1979) St.Louis #177, forward, Presov, Kosice, St.Louis & Worcester (AHL) – Laco is natural born sniper. He should play a complete season with the Blues next season.

1998

Miroslav Zalesak (1980) San Jose #104, forward, Nitra, Nitra, Drummondville (QMJHL) – Miro had a very good season in the QMJHL. Next season? Probably on the Sharks’ farm club.

Rastislav Stana (1980) Washington #193, goalie, Kosice, Kosice, Calgary (WHL) – Impressive season in major junior. Caps have very good goalie prospects. Next year – minors or another major junior season?

Martin Bartek (1980) Nashville #202, forward, Moncton, Zvolen, Moncton (QMJHL) – Solid season in Quebec. Next season – in the minors.

Lubomir Pistek (1980) Philadelphia #222, forward, Bratislava, Bratislava, Saskatoon (WHL) – Flyers have never had a good pick from Slovakia. Lubo had two obscure seasons in the WHL and confirms this rule.

Rastislav Pavlikovsky (1977) Ottawa #246, forward, Utah (IHL), Trencin, Cincinnati (AHL) – Rasto had impressive rookie season but followed it up with two up and down ones in the minors. Next season might be all or nothing.

Martin Cibak (1980) Tampa Bay #252, forward, L.Mikulas, L.Mikulas, Medicine Hat (WHL) – Solid season in major junior. Next season – in the minors.

1999

Branislav Mezei (1980) N.Y.Islanders #9, defenseman, Belleville, Nitra, Belleville (OHL) – Brano had two impressive seasons in the OHL. He has the potential to play in the NHL next season.

Kristian Kudroc (1981) N.Y.Islanders, defenseman, Michalovce, Michalovce (Division.1), Quebec (QMJHL) – Very strong rookie season. Kris should play in the same league next season.

Milan Bartovic (1981) Buffalo #35, forward, Trencin, Trencin, Brandon (WHL) – Milan had agood rookie season but did not fulfil high expectations. Maybe he could stay on Extraliga.

Jan Lasak (1979) Nashville #65, goalie, Zvolen, Zvolen, Hampton Roads (ECHL) – He had pretty good rookie season in the minors. He looks forward to playing in the IHL next season. I believe he will play in the NHL within two years.

Rene Vydareny (1981) Vancouver #69, defenseman, Bratislava, Bratislava, Rimouski (QMJHL) – Very good rookie season rewarded by Memorial Cup championship. I expect to see him in the same league.

Peter Smrek (1979) St.Louis #86, defenseman, Des Moines (USHL), Martin, Worcester (AHL) – Peter played in the AHL after season in minor junior. Good professional start.

Branko Radivojevic (1980) Colorado #93, forward, Belleville, Trencin, Belleville (OHL) – Solid junior player. Next season – in the minors or in the OHL again?

Juraj Kolnik (1980) N.Y.Islanders #101, forward, Rimouski, Nitra, Rimouski (QMJHL). Juraj is one of the best junior scorers and he proved it in the Memorial Cup as well. He is able to score a lot of goals and the Isles need good scorers. Give him a chance in the NHL. If he does not succeed he could go back to QMJHL.

Kristian Kovac (1981) Colorado #123, forward, Kosice, Kosice, Victoriaville (QMJHL) – Kris had obscure season in Quebec. He should go back to Kosice in order to get in better shape and gain self-confidence in Extraliga.

Roman Tvrdon (1981) Washington #132, forward, Trencin, Trencin, Spokane (WHL) – Roman was the best scoring rookie in the league and surprised many scouts.

Tomas Skvaridlo (1981) Pittsburgh #144, forward, Zvolen, Zvolen, Kingston (OHL) – Solid rookie season.

Miroslav Durak (1981) Nashville #220, defenseman, Bratislava, Topolcany, Des Moines (USHL) – Just another guy in minor junior.

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