Leaving home…Part 2

By Robert Neuhauser
The summer turns to his end and by that time young hockey players often move to Canada or USA for a chance to play in the junior leagues. It’s decision time, especially when you were drafted by a CHL team. In the first part I covered the top five Czech players selected and now there are the next six players. So who is it?

6. Martin Podlesak (CHL:Tri-city, WHL Czech:HC Sparta Praha)

The huge framed winger Martin Podlesak (6’5”, 200 lbs.) should follow the way to the WHL. Regarded as one of the top 1982 born Czech prospects, Martin isn’t elegible until the 2001 draft (born 09-26-1982, one day after Frantisek Lukes coverd in Part 1). He plays for the juniors of a very strong HC Sparta Praha team and there isn’t a sign of Martin coming to the last league champion’s team. Martin has prototypical North American size, that will help him in the WHL a lot. The decision shouldn’t be so hard for him, just get aboard a plane. The WHL will help him develop his hard-nosed playing style and a style of play played at a smaller rink will suit him very good. The sooner he gets used to that, the better for him. He plays in his draft year, so the motivation shouldn’t be a problem. In Tri-city Martin can blossom into a power forward and make a bigger impress on the NHL scouts than a Sparta Praha junior player.

7. Jan Platil (CHL: Barrie, OHL
Czech: Kladno)

Jan’s situation isn’t so easy this summer. He is ready to graduate to the struggling HC Vagnerplast Kladno senior team, where he played 9 games with 2 points (0+2) last season. A big defensive prospect, Jan has also the choice of moving to the OHL’s Barrie Colts. He fights for the top 1983 born defenseman title with Petr Puncochar of Karlovy Vary and Petr chose to stay (wasn’t even drafted by a CHL team). Petr should be a regular with Karlovy Vary next season while Jan has to fight for a roster spot yet. Maybe Barrie would be slightly better for him. On the other hand he can also show his skills at the next U-18 WJC or maybe the U-20 WJC this winter if he makes that team. Moving to Barrie isn’t a bad idea, Jan has to make a hard decision. In fact, he can’t do bad.

8. Jiri Jakes (CHL: Brandon, WHL
Czech:HC Sparta Praha)

A teammate of Martin Podlesak is a less hyped prospect. But he has nearly the same size (6’4”, 195 lbs.) and can play a defensively-responsible game. If needed, Jiri can crush the boards, but not only. Playing for the Wheaties would suit him perfectly and his draft stock would rise rapidly as he gets familiar with the WHL. It’s doubtful if Jiri will be drafted if he stays with Sparta, with the Wheat Kings he could be a late-round pick when he improves his game in the WHL. The best junior league for winger Jiri right now.

9. Jan Soukup (CHL: Guelph, OHL
Czech: Karlovy Vary)

This 2001 eligible left winger seems to have a bright future. He spent the last season with the Waco Wizards of the WPHL and after the sudden crash of this team he practiced with the Central Texas Stampede team. The good-sized (6’2”, 188 lbs.) forward will fit perfectly in the Storm team. He is ready to challenge for a roster spot and with his above-average playing skills and the fact that he is not afraid of the hard game, it’s almost sure he’ll make the team. That’s the beginning. The youngest player ever to sign in the WPHL will likely find himself as a NHL club member after the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Jan is a talented guy and the OHL is the easiest way to the NHL for him.

10. Tomas Mojzis (CHL: Moose Jaw, WHL
Czech: Pardubice)

The talented defenseman Tomas played well in the last U-18 WJC in Switzerland. All NHL teams looked past him at the Calgary draft, though. The Warriors are a chance for Tom to open the eyes of some NHL scouts. He’ll play a lot of games of the WHL regular season schedule, which is good, but due to his birthdate (05-02-1982) it’ll be a make-it or break-it season for him. Tomas plays a good positional game and handles the puck quite well, so if he keeps on working, things may turn well for him. If not, then he should return home to play for Pardubice and be patient, with his talent he can easily be an overage pick some year.

11. Petr Hemsky (CHL: Belleville, OHL
Czech: Pardubice)

A less known prospect than his younger brother Ales, Petr should move to Canada as soon as he can. He was born 01-24-1982 and he fights for his chance to be drafted in Florida in June 2001. In Belleville he’ll feel the pressure of the need of making an immediate impress and that won’t help him. However, staying with Pardubice would mean that his chances for the Florida draft are equally zero. A gritty player, Petr will hope that any NHL team will love his attitude and on-ice-awareness. It’ll be very hard for him but there is a chance that he’ll do it.

So that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this article and expect more players come here soon!