Vojtech Polak has played his entire amateur and professional career in the Karlovy Vary system. Starting during the 1999-00 season, Polak was playing for the team’s U18 junior squad for nearly the entire year. Even as a 14 year old, Polak put up quality numbers in the league, resulting in his promotion to the U20 team, where he played a few unproductive games.
In the 2000-01 season, Polak split time between the U18 and U20 teams, with the majority of it being in the lower league. However, on both teams he averaged over a point per game. This was excellent production from a 15 year old playing against mostly older competition. His performance was so good that when the senior team was decimated by injuries, Polak saw a call-up to plug the fourth line for two games, making him one of the youngest players ever to suit up in the Extraliga.
The 2001-02 season was an interesting one for the young Czech winger. Overall, his production in the U20 junior league was below what was expected given his previous performances in the junior system. Still, Polak saw limited action in the professional Extraliga for Karlovy Vary.
As a 17-year-old, Polak spent the 2002-03 season nearly exclusively in the Extraliga. He finished ninth on his team in regular season points scored among forwards, practically cementing a spot on the Karlovy Vary roster for next season. In the time Polak spent with the U20 team, he was able to dominate. His play earned him an invitation to play on the Czech Republic team for the U18 WJC. At this tournament, he and three other forwards each scored five points to lead the Czech Republic team in scoring.
2007-08: After starting the year in Iowa (AHL) for the third straight year, Polak decided that he needed a change. He requested a loan back to one of his former clubs in the Czech Republic, HC Karlovy Vary. The Stars still qualified Polak to retain his rights at the end of the season and have said the door remains open for his return, however, it seems unlikely that we’ll see Polak back in North America any time soon.
Read HF’s 2006 interview with Polak here.
Strengths: Polak has the kind of natural offensive instincts that cannot be taught. He is a wizard with the puck and can often make moves to get around defenders. He possesses very good skating skills, showing admirable speed, acceleration, and balance. He has also shown the ability to use bursts of speed to get past defenders. In the offensive zone, Polak is a dangerous sniper and passer, especially on the power play. He has a nice selection of hard, accurate shots and will drive the net. In pressure situations, Polak stays calm and uses his abilities to the fullest. He is a strong competitor when the puck is on his stick.
Weaknesses: Polak has a few obstacles in his path towards the NHL. The most notable of these are his defensive awareness and ability to handle physical play. At this point, Polak's defensive coverage is poor. As a finesse player, Polak does not tend to get involved physically. He can handle play in traffic if the game does not get too physical, but some bulk and a little more work on handling physical play would help him tremendously. There have been some questions about Polak's attitude because he has shown a tendency to have lapses in intensity without the puck.
Has signed in the Czech Republic for this season. May spend the near future in Europe, his rights are still owned by the Stars.