Tomas Plekanec- 14th in the CSB European ranking

By Ivana Paulova
“And the award for the best rookie of the Czech Extraleague goes to 18 year old player of HC Vagnerplast Kladno Tomas Plekanec”

Tomas Plekanec is an amazingly talented player who seems to be rather underestimated and a bit in the background in the experts eyes even though he has already proved his qualities. He is definitely the dark horse of the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. But he has an outstanding potential.

He was born on 31st October 1982 so he is eligible for the 2001 draft. Most 82’s were drafted last year. So his age may be seen as a disadvantage. However this extra year has brought an infinite number of benefits for this player who usually wears number 14 on his jersey. Tomas is now more mature, more confident and has developed to be an extremely valuable player no matter his age.

In the under-20 Junior World Championship the Czech Republic once again surprised the whole world and gave no other team the chance to grab victory. The young Czech players brought gold medals from the Russian capital Moscow. The youngest of the Czech players was indeed this very guy of whom I speak: Tomas Plekanec. It was only 3 months after he had celebrated his 18th birthday. He played in the 3rd line there and performed quite well in the 6 games where he gained 2 points for 1 goal and 1 assist. This can be considered as his most valued success until present. That was the actual break- through in his career and mainly because Tomas had become more known to Czech fans and oversees experts. This season Tomas was the player of HC Vagnerplast Kladno the former Poldi Kladno (the team where, for example Jaromir Jagr grew up). He was a stable 2nd to 3rd liner there so he was an ordinary player, but the victory for the under-20 Junior World Championship has increased Tomas’ popularity.

Tomas’ hockey career has its roots deep in the past. At the age of 5 his teacher from the kindergarten had a boyfriend who worked in the hockey stadium of Kladno. Then his parents took over the initiative and supported Tomas all the way through, as much as they could. For the whole of his career Tomas has played in his hometown of Kladno. He was lucky to have coaches who gave him the chance to play with guys older than him. Due to his birthdate he was usually almost a year younger than the ones in his own category. He was not even 16 when he was given the opportunity to play 2 Extraleague games for Kladno. He was then sent back to the junior team but it was a unique source of experience for such a young player. He was always a good player but since last year he has made a huge improvement.

As is the case with so many other players, Tomas’ education finished at the end of primary. This means that besides hockey he has no external responsibility. In his free time he likes to play other sports such as soccer, tennis and squash. Computer, internet and music are his other hobbies that fulfill the rest of his free time. He is more of an introvert and being at home and feeling secure suits him best.

This season Tomas was a stable member of Kladno’s roster as well as member of the under 20 Nation Team’s roster. His uncommon skills were also spotted by Josef Augusta the coach of the Czech National selection. Tomas participated in the training camp prior to this year’s World Championship in Germany. Tomas didn’t make it to the World Championship though. But once again it proved that Tomas’ abilities are highly valued even by the coach of the senior national selection. This means that Tomas is something more than just an ordinary junior player.

As Tomas is a smallish player and not overly physical his style of play is matched with his physique. This style is based on astonishing sense for combination. He has good vision and outstanding ability to read the play which together with excellent stickhandling make his combinatory style an unbeatable weapon. He possesses a brilliant technique which enables him to pass through almost any teams defensive zone and penetrate in front of the goalie. The defending opponent is confused to the last moment because Tomas is so unpredictable in his moves. He may have problems to get in front of the net using strength because this is another area which causes him problems but when he uses his brain and brisk hands then it’s an unusual performance to watch. This guy is smart! He can think many situations ahead and that is what makes him such a valuable player. His skating is something he should for sure work on but he has a good balance which is inevitable for his technical ‘tricks’ which can surprise not only the fans but mainly the opponents. He can make an incredibly accurate pass but he should improve his shot to be harder and more accurate.

From his style of play it’s evident that he loves hockey. His virtues that make him so good are his passion and intensity on the other hand he lacks aggression though. To his benefit is that he has an indispensable attitude to work and improve. Once coach of HC Vagnerplast Kladno said that to win a game one has to focus on attitude and willingness to work as a team and he said that Tomas is the player who is an example of this kind of team work approach. He is the type of player who fights as much as he can even though his team is among the worst in the whole Extraleague. This is good experience because with the vast range of talent and the skills he possesses he will soon get offers from quality teams – and not only from the Czech Republic.

As you would expect, he is a well mannered, very modest and amusing guy who has no reason to show off because the real experts know what his abilities are. He also makes mistakes and sometimes he does not play well. But in general he is the player who has always something to show to the fans so it’s a pleasure to watch him play.

He should have a very promising future ahead of him as he has the determination to be an outstanding player. Of course it’s unknown how is he going to cope with the different style of play that is practiced in North America but at least for next season he is staying in the Czech Republic so we won’t discover.

His performance is never boring and he can always think of an infinite number of choices of what to do with the puck. Hopefully he will get drafted by a team which can value players of his quality.