The 2007 Draft was the worst draft ever for Slovak prospects. Last year in 2006, when the NHL clubs drafted only four Slovak prospects (the best, Tomas Marcinko, in the fourth round, 115th overall), it was the worst at that point, but this year brought new lows.
Twenty-one prospects were ranked by Central Scouting for 2007, but none of them near the top. It was known that none would go in the first round, but some scouts were very optimistic in regard to Juraj Mikus or David Skokan.
The Slovak team in the U20 World Championships was disappointing. Without Switzerland‘s help, the team would have been relegated. Only two draft eligible Slovak prospects played in it, Skokan and Juraj Valach. The Slovak team in the U18 World Championships was better — fifth place was the third best positioning in the history. Adam Bezak was the fourth most productive forward (9 points in 6 games) and also Milan Kytnar showed some nice moves (7 points in 6 matches). In overall, 11 draft-eligible Slovak prospects played in that tournament.
So what happened during the draft? Most scouts said that by the end of the third round Skokan, Mikus or Kytnar would already be drafted. But after the fourth round where was Bezak, the fourth best forward in the U18 World Championships? Where was Valach, a “dark horse” in this year’s draft? Where were the goaltenders, Zdenko Kotvan or Tomas Hiadlovsky? Where are the other Slovak prospects, Baca, Daloga and others?
Below is a look at those who were taken.
1.Milan Kytnar, C
Edmonton Oilers, 5th round, 127th overall from HC Topolcany, SVK-2
Kytnar was chosen seventh overall in the CHL Import Draft and will play for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL for 2007-08. That’s maybe good for him, he can adjust there to the North American style and improve his physical play. He was the main factor of the U18 team’s success. Most of the season he played in the Slovak second senior league and he did it well.
The Oilers made a good choice with Kytnar. He can develop to a good two-way center, and in the future, he could be a little version of Michal Handzus.
2. Juraj Mikus, D
Toronto Maple Leafs, 5th round, 134th overall from Dukla Trencin, SVK
Mikus was 27th in the European Final Rankings, the 11th defenseman, but he was drafted in the fifth round. He has some offensive potential, but unfortunately for him, in the senior league he didn’t collect any points. And maybe that was the reason for this late selection. He is quite tall and needs to add bulk to his frame. He can be a fifth or sixth NHL defenseman, but is a long way from reaching that. Next season he’ll play in the Slovak senior league.
3. David Skokan, C
Skokan was in the North America skaters final rating in 40th place, but went in the seventh round. When he work harder and improves his overall skills, in four or five years he will have the chance to fight for a New York Rangers roster spot. In the last season he has showed some improvement, but for the NHL scouts it wasn’t enough. The next two seasons will be crucial for him, he must prove that he can be a reliable center. Next season he will remain with the Rimouski Océanic.
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