Photo: Liberec White Tigers forward Pavel Zacha has the potential to be a first round selection at the 2015 NHL Draft (courtesy of Liberec White Tigers)
The last time a Czech prospect was selected among the top 10 at an NHL Draft was in 2006 when the Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Jakub Voráček sixth overall. Since then, the only bigger success for a Czech draft class was a year ago, in 2012, when two forwards, Radek Faksa and Tomáš Hertl, were selected by Dallas and San Jose respectively in the top 20. And, while the 2013 NHL Draft was a huge disappointment for the Czech Republic, this traditional stronghold of hockey is expected to come back.
Photo: 2014 prospect Filip Pyrochta hails from the same Czech hometown as NHL players Patrik Elias and Martin Erat (courtesy of the Liberec White Tigers)
The Czech Republic had one of its least successful drafts this year in New Jersey, but that doesn't mean the next one won't feature any Czech players that could be picked in the early rounds. Swedish-based offensive marvel Jakub Vrána, who will definitely be considered one of the top European skaters, isn't the only one though. Still playing in his homeland and just about to take a leap into the Czech Extraliga is young defenseman Filip Pyrochta.
Photo: Kootenay Ice forward Sam Reinhart is the third of former NHL defenseman Paul Reinhart’s three sons who will be looking to follow in the father’s footsteps to the NHL (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
With the 2013 NHL Draft now passed, the focus can now turn to the class of 2014. Since Beyond Tomorrow looks at those players eligible for the next draft class, this is the last opportunity to discuss the 2014 draft-eligible players before shifting attention to the 2015's. With that in mind, here is a recap of the best of the late-1995 and 1996-born players.
Photo: Czech forward Jakub Vrana currently plays hockey in Sweden, but could receive attention at the 2013 CHL Import Draft (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)
Adler, a small, rather nameless coastal resort just south of Sochi that is receiving worldwide attention as one of the hosting places of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, recently was packed with hockey scouts, journalists and the top players born in 1995 or later for the IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
Photo: Defenseman Jan Stencel was one of the top three performers for the Czech Republic at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Lubo Lang/Czech Ice Hockey Association)
When searching the junior ranks for future NHL talent, good defensemen are usually harder to come by than good forwards. The upcoming NHL Draft class of players based in the Czech Republic is, however, an exception to that rule.