Daniel Volrab- 56th position in the European CSB ranking

By Ivana Paulova
Looking closer at the current junior team of HC Sparta Praha we can spot some real talent there. Among those players born in 1983, Daniel Volrab is the top player. He is in the 56th position among European players (according to the CSB latest ranking). In the mid season ranking he occupied 16th place. But there are several reasons for this drop. The first thing is that the 16th place was rather over estimated because going by his performance- and let’s face it that is what matters!- he should be somewhere between 30th and 40th position. The second thing is that due to his sickness (he had mononucleosis) he missed out 4 months from this season which cost him strength as well as valuable time which he could have spent improving his skills. The third thing is that the CSB ranking was highly dependant on the results and performances in the under 18 World Championship in which Daniel didn’t play as well as had been expected.

And his story? He discovered the beauty of ice hockey at the tender age of 5. His older brother was playing hockey in Decin so Daniel went on to do the same thing. In the 7th grade he changed teams so he moved from Decin in the hockey town of Litvinov which is a 60km distance from his home. His decision to play for Litvinov was mainly that it was good team and it was nearest to his hometown, of Decin. There he finished primary school and that was the end of his “formal education”.

After winning the title with Litvinov in the 9th grade he made another move. In Litvinov he found limited playing time and felt the need for a change of environment. He started to play in Prague for HC Sparta where he has been until now. Next season he plans to leave the Czech Republic to play in one of the Canadian Hockey Leagues preferably in the OHL. He would like to adapt to, as well as learn the physical style of play there.

In his free time he likes to play street hockey in Decin which helps him to improve his technical skills. Listening to music is his other hobby. He especially likes to listen to Czech music. In general he likes his home country. He says that he played in Litvinov and Prague because these are the two closest towns to his hometown of Decin and besides which that is where high quality hockey is played. He loves the security that his family provide and this is important to him. However he has decided to chance his luck in North America which should in all cases bring him benefits.

In Sparta young players do not get many chances to play for the A team. Daniel has only been practicing with the A team this season and he has played for 10 minutes in one extraleague game. For the rest of the season he practiced and played for the junior team of HC Sparta Praha. He can play anywhere in the forward and this season he was playing mainly in the centre. He likes to watch David Vyborny playing- a guy who possesses excellent technique. Daniel loves to play technically as well and the enjoyment of this style of play is evident in his performance. He can be defined as a technical player with excellent vision, great hockey sense and the ability to read the play equally well. His final shot or pass possesses accuracy. Stick handling skills as well as his defensive-responsible game are his main virtues. Worth mentioning also are his quick reflexes. Just watch him, he’s very hard to beat in the faceoff circle. There are quite a few things that he can improve though. His attitude seems a bit relaxed and he could be more passionate and intense. On the ice he is more like an invisible player, well yes sometimes invisible but scoring a hattrick. Still he needs to gain more confidence and learn the physical style of play and that of course means being more aggressive. He is not an outstanding skater so he’s working on this area too.

And as for the under 18 Championship. It didn’t work out for Daniel as he had hoped, but the Czechs grabbed 4th position which was a success for this team. The Russians fielded an outstanding team with excellent players and it wouldn’t have been fair if any other team had won the Championship. Switzerland has been constantly improving and developing their team not only in the category of under 18 players. The Fins once again proved they know how to work with young players and they over-played the Czechs in a dramatic game which finished 2:1 for the Fins. So the 4th place was what our team was worth. Daniel played 5 out of the 7 games and gained 3 points for 2 goals and 1 assist. During the regular season and the play-offs he played 28 games gaining 20 points for 11 goals and 9 assists with the national team. This year his statistics are 15 games with 7 points for 5 goals and 2 assists. He could play much better but he missed out almost half of the season and he could have felt that he was losing power as the end of the tournament was coming. It was quite bad luck this season because he has never had any long-term injury or illness until this season so the mononucleosis strongly influenced his performance.

He will probably be picked in the 3rd or 4th round on the oncoming draft. Moreover he is looking forward to the European Import draft where he should be high on the selectors’ lists. As he is one of the players who is able to work extremely hard and dedicate everything to hockey he will be a very valuable player either in Europe or North America. If he copes well with the aggressive game as well as use his body productively he can make it to NHL but it will take some time. It is like that with many Czech players who get drafted but develop into an excellent player in the Czech extraleague and after 4 or 5 years become indispensable for their NHL team. Only time will show what kind of player Daniel is.