2010-11: Vaclav Karabacek skated for the HC Letnany U16 team in his native Czech Republic. In 22 games he scored 18 goals with 12 assists and was +2 with 8 penalty minutes.
2011-12: Karabacek played for HC Letany’s U18 and U16 teams and competed internationally for the Czech Republic’s national U16 team. He scored 15 goals with 14 assists and was +8 with 18 penalty minutes in 25 games for HC Letany’s U18 team. Karabacek scored 61 goals with 43 assists and was +67 with 70 penalty minutes in 32 U18 games. He scored 3 goals with 1 assist and was -1 in ten games for the Czech U16 team.
2012-13: Karabacek moved to Austria to play junior hockey for EC Salzburg in the Red Bull Rookie Cup; skating for the club’s U20 and U18 teams. He scored 2 goals with 1 assist and had 2 penalty minutes in five games with the U20 squad. Karabacek scored 26 goals with 19 assists and had 55 penalty minutes in 21 games for EC Salzburg’s U18 team. He skated in 19 games for the Czech Republic at the U18 and U17 levels — scoring 5 goals with 7 assists and finishing +1 with 30 penalty minutes — but did not skate in the U18 World Junior Championship. Karabacek was selected by Medvescak-Zagreb in the first round (36th overall) of the 2013 KHL Draft and was taken by Gatineau in the first round (18th overall) of the 2013 CHL Import Draft.
2013-14: Karabacek competed for the Czech Republic’s U18 team in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August before heading to North America for his first QMJHL season in Gatineau. He finished the season with the silver medal-winning Czech U18 squad at the 2014 World Juniors. Karabacek fit in well with the high-scoring Olympiques – tallying 21 goals with 26 assists in 65 regular season games — and was +4 with with 40 penalty minutes. Gatineau finished fourthin the West Division and reached the second round in the playoffs. Karabacek scored 6 goals with 6 assists and was +11 with 10 penalty minutes in nine playoff games. He had 2 assists and was -1 with 2 penalty minutes in four games for the Czech U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka tournament and scored 3 goals with 3 assists and was +4 with 4 penalty minutes at the WJC. The Czech Republic defeated Canada, 4-3, in the semifinals before falling to the USA, 5-2, in the gold medal game. Karabacek was ranked 35th amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by Buffalo in the second round (49th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.
2014-15: Karabacek returned to Gatineau for his second QMJHL season — skating in 31 games for the Olympiques before being acquired by Baie-Comeau in exchange for Kings’ prospect Valentin Zykov in a trade deadline deal in January 2015. In 59 regular season games between the two teams he scored 17 goals with 23 assists and was -6 with 62 penalty minutes. The Drakkar finished fourth in the powerful East Division.
Karabacek is a pure goal-scorer who excels at finding the open spots in the offensive zone and bulging the twine. Though not a dynamic skater he uses his frame well to protect the puck and get into position to make a play. He has worked, with mixed results, to round out his game — especially in his own end — in his first two seasons in North America.
Karabacek had a challenging second season in North America in 2014-15 — beginning the year with Gatineau before a mid-season trade to Baie-Comeau. Playing more of a two-way, support role and working to improve in the other areas of his game, he struggled to score as consistently as he did his first season. Long-term this may benefit Karabacek as he learns to be a more complete player. His offensive ability suggests he can be an effective scorer at the NHL level one day. He is still in the process of developing at this point.