Draft review – Czech players

By Robert Neuhauser
The 2001 NHL Entry Draft is now history. It was also historical for the Czech hockey. It was
for the first time that 31 players have heard their names selected. It is doubtful that
everyone of this crop will ever play in the NHL, but there are some, who can turn into the
stars of the future. The last successes of the Czech hockey also helped the overage players
to a chance to play in the big league.

As projected, three Czech players were taken in the
first round of the draft. But especially the lower rounds were rich on Czech picks.
Now I will try to comment every Czech pick, round by round,
with a bigger comment on players not included in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft preview.

First round

No. 13 Ales Hemsky – Edmonton Oilers

Position: right wing
Team: Hull Olympiques, QMJHL
Born: August, 13th, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 170 lbs.

The Oilers used their option on swapping the first round picks with the Boston Bruins to select
the Hull Olympiques’ right winger Ales Hemsky. This pick may be concerned as a little risky,
Hemsky was projected to be selected about the 15th-20th spot, but Kevin Lowe knows what
he wants and what he gets. Speedy Ales Hemsky can repeat the success of Ottawa’s Martin
Havlat (he has also nearly the same size as Martin had at 18).

A very good skater, puckhandler
and goalscorer, Ales can develop into a 30+ goalscorer in the NHL. There is some risiko that
he won’t be able to handle the NHL traffic, but the Oilers won’t rush him to start contributing
immediately. They should be patient with him, don’t expect Ales in an Oilers uniform before

No. 22 Jiri Novotny – Buffalo Sabres

Position: center
Team: HC Ceske Budejovice
Born: August, 12th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195 lbs.

The Sabres were looking for a pure scorer and I’m not sure if they selected the player they
really wanted. Jiri Novotny is a great leader, faceoff specialist, solid playmaker but not
a scoring dynamo. He likes to control the play of his line, can also play aggresively and
he won’t hurt you defensively, but don’t expect him to become more than a 25 goal scorer in
the NHL.

However, Jiri will most likely make it to the NHL as a 3rd line center at worst,
his playmaking skills are really top-notch, even if he is inconsistant at times. The Sabres
are now set at the center position with the new acquisition of Tim Connolly and Jiri will
have time to develop in the Czech Republic. He may try the Sabres camp, but he is at least
a year away.

No. 24 Lukas Krajicek – Florida Panthers

Position: defenseman
Team: Peterborough Petes, OHL
Born: March, 11th, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 183 lbs.

The Panthers really need to bolster their defense and with their first pick they passed on
Dan Hamhuis to take the best player available, young Steve Yzerman, Stephen Weiss of the
Plymouth Whalers. But they still wanted to land a blue chip defenseman, so they traded two
second round picks to New Jersey for the Devils first rounder. The Panthers could choose
between Jeff Woywitka, Matt Spiller, Mark Popovic and Lukas Krajicek.

From those Lukas
Krajicek has the best puckhandling skills and can be the future Panthers powerplay quarterback.
Lukas has all the skills – his skating, vision, passing and shooting are very good – except
for his toughness. This is his drawback on his way to the big league. So at least one more year
in juniors would help Lukas. But he could be ready coming the 2002-2003 season.

Second round

No. 39 Karel Pilar – Toronto Maple Leafs

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Chemopetrol Litvinov
Born: December, 23rd, 1977
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 205 lbs.

First Czech overage pick. The Leafs are very high on Karel and scouted him heavily during
the WHC in Germany. The New York Rangers and Nashville Predators were also interested in the
former Litvinov defenseman, so the Leafs secured him already at the top of the second round.
A surprise pick for many fans, but the Leafs staff see in Karel a big, mobile, mature offensive
defenseman with great passing skills and a good shot, who can start contribute immediately.

The Leafs lost Danny Markov in the trade which saw his Litvinov teammate Robert Reichel come
to the Leafs and this position can be filled by Karel. If he has a good camp I expect him to
make the team. He should feel happy with Robert Reichel, Petr Svoboda and Tomas Kaberle around
him to make his first NHL steps easily.

No. 45 Martin Podlesak – Phoenix Coyotes

Position: center
Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL
Born: September, 26th, 1982
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 200 lbs.

The Phoenix Coyotes, in a rebuilding phase, got some high picks in the recent trades, but
finished with only two picks in the second round. First they took the huge Matt Spiller and
with the second, they took Martin Podlesak, a center with even bigger size than Spiller.
Martin has undoubtedly great puckhandling skills and a good shot, plus his great size, but
he doesn’t make the best of it always. That’s his drawback, if he would throw his body
around more, it would help him to make the NHL quickly. He has to work on it and further
develop his skating skills to become a NHL regular someday. He has the tools to do so, but
he would benefit from finishing his junior career in the WHL next season and then learn in the
AHL for two seasons.

In 2004 Martin could be NHL ready. The Coyotes are trying to build a
core of young players and Martin should fit nicely in the system of Cliff Fletcher. But he
needs time.

No. 51 Jaroslav Bednar – Los Angeles Kings

Position: center
Team: IFK Helsinki
Born: November, 8th, 1976
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 200 lbs.

The Kings have hit the jackpot with Lubomir Visnovsky at the last draft and they hope to
repeat the success with Jaroslav Bednar. Jaroslav played in the Finnish SM-Liiga the last
season and he posted very solid numbers and even became the top goalscorer. Even then Jaroslav is more of a wild card. He can be
a very good second line center or a NHL bust.

He is a great skater with good acceleration
and posesses terrific hockey sense and vision, but he had some slumps in his career, where
he failed to produce. He doesn’t have prototypical NHL size, but he is very good in one-on-one
situations and can be extremly useful on the powerplay. He is an overage gamble, if all clicks
well, Jaroslav will play 15 minutes a game, if not, he’ll return to Europe like Tomas Vlasak
did the previous season.

Third round

No. 71 Tomas Plekanec – Montreal Canadiens

Position: center
Team: HC Vagnerplast Kladno
Born: October, 31st, 1982
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 190 lbs.

Tomas can turn out to be a steal for the Habs in the third round. He is a younger version
of Habs captain Saku Koivu. A diminutive center but extremly smart with terrific hockey
sense. Tomas was the top rookie of the Czech Extraleague the last season and with his speed
and a great pair of hands he can be one of the future stars. Tomas is very good offensively
and he can score goals and prepare chances equally well. Only his size matters.

Tough defensemen
like Derian Hatcher or Scott Stevens can stop his offensive output. But Tomas surely has
the tools to make it to the NHL and he can shine. Right now it would be a nonsense to rush
him to start playing quickly, two season in the Czech Extraleague will be the best for him
and after that he can challenge for a regular spot on the Canadiens lineup. He’ll have an
increased role with Kladno the following season and that’ll be great for him.

Fourth round

No. 126 Daniel Volrab – Dallas Stars

Position: center
Team: HC Sparta Praha
Born: March, 11th, 1983
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 180 lbs.

Daniel saw his stock drop during this season and he ended as the Stars fourth round pick.
That means that he’ll have plenty of time to develop. Daniel says that he wants to play
in the OHL the next season and he can stay there for two years. Even if the Stars will rebuild
their team soon, they won’t rush Daniel. They don’t have a big arsenal of forward prospect,
Steve Ott is the frontrunner, but Daniel can be also among the top. But there is an IF. If
he will finally play an aggresive intense game.

Dan posesses great skills, he knows how
to control the whole line, is responsible defensively and has a bright offensive potential,
but he isn’t always involved in the games. At times he disappears from the ice. With his
blend of skill, if he would play aggresively, he would be in the Stars depth chart right
behind Ott. The Stars will watch him carefully in the CHL. If he puts his game together, then
he can think of the NHL. If not, he could find himself released.

No. 129 Miroslav Blatak – Detroit Red Wings

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Continental Zlin
Born: May, 25th, 1982
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 175 lbs.

The Wings were willing to take a flyer on Blatak at the bottom of the fourth round. Miroslav
is an undersized defenseman, something the Red Wings have in Nicklas Kronwall, only less
skilled. But with the few picks the Red Wings had, they must like Miroslav. He is a good skater
ad plays a sound positional game. He doesn’t throw thunderous bodychecks but he can keep
the play in front of him. Also a good outlet passer with a solid slap shot. Miroslav is a
longshot prospect, he is at least three years away from a roster spot challenge.

Jiri Fischer
is the future of the Red Wings blueline and even if players like Larry Murphy and Chris Chelios
will leave soon (Murphy already left), Miroslav should concentrate on making the Extraleague
first. He should take the way thru the Extraleague and hopefully the national team. This
is the only way to the NHL for him. The bumpy AHL road wouldn’t help him if he would leave now.

Fifth round

No. 132 Dusan Salficky – New York Islanders

Position: goaltender
Team: HC Keramika Plzen
Born: March, 28th, 1972
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 185 lbs.

The Isles took the overage goalie with the first selection of the fifth round. Dusan, a fan
favorite in Plzen, had a stellar season in both the Extraleague and the national team. Dusan
is a very confident goalie who likes to challenge the shooter. He plays a butterfly style
and quickly back on his skates. He uses his blocker well and has a fast glove hand. Dusan can
handle the pressure very well and can carry the team in difficult situations. He doesn’t have
great stickhandling skills like his future Islanders teammate Rick DiPietro, but he doesn’t
make huge mistakes with the puck.

Dusan could immediately challenge for a roster spot like
Roman Cechmanek did the previous season. If he succeeds, then it could give DiPietro the
needed time to develop in the minors, if not, then he’ll play in the minors instead of DiPietro.

No. 140 Tomas Plihal – San Jose Sharks

Position: center/left wing
Team: HC Liberec
Born: March, 28th, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 180 lbs.

The Sharks went German at this draft, but they didn’t also forget to pick a Czech player,
forward Tomas Plihal of Liberec. Tomas had a very good performance at the Under-18 WJC and
he can be a steal for the Sharks. Expected to be selected late in the third round, Tomas slipped
a bit. He is a very good skater and stickhandler, very useful on the powerplay. Tomas has a
fast acceleration and he reads the game very well. Has nice offensive instincts, just needs to
get more mature.

He remains without a contract for the next season and he chooses between the
CHL and staying with the Div I team Liberec. Right now it seems that he tends to play in the CHL.
Has to adjust to another style of hockey before he can seriously challenge for a roster spot
with the Sharks. Tomas is very talented but don’t expect him with the Sharks till 2004-2005.

No. 147 Jiri Jakes – Boston Bruins

Position: right wing
Team: Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL
Born: October, 4th, 1982
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 225 lbs.

Jiri was pegged as a fourth round pick at worst, but his bad skating made him slip to the
fifth round. He doesn’t have to adjust to North American style, because he spent this season
with the Wheat Kings and even before he already played like a North American. Jiri has a huge
frame, hits everything that moves and prefers to shoot the puck. Also not afraid of fights and
goes in front of the net to look for rebounds. Jiri needs to improve his awful skating to develop
into a really big, bad Bruin. He will rejoin the Wheat Kings for the next season and playing
for Providence in the 2002-2003 season would help him. After that he can crack the Bruins roster.

No. 155 Michal Vondrka – Buffalo Sabres

Position: left wing
Team: HC Ceske Budejovice
Born: May, 17th, 1982
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 180 lbs.

The Sabres like Czech players and in the fifth round they selected left winger Michal Vondrka
of the Ceske Budejovice juniors. Michal was already 2000 eligible (there is a mistake in the
CSB rankings in his birthyear, Michal was born 1982), but was overlooked. Had a leading role
for the Budejovice juniors after the promotions of Vaclav Nedorost and Jiri Novotny and also
played eight games in the Extraleague, scoring a goal. Michal is a solid skater who can play
offensively and defensively equally well.

On the offensive side, Michal shoots the puck quite
often but also posesses solid passing skills. He needs to improve his hitting if he wants to
succeed in North America. Michal can play very responsible defensively and can be described
as a two-way forward. But he is still a longshot prospect to ever play in the NHL.

No. 158 Roman Malek – Philadelphia Flyers

Position: goaltender
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: September, 25th, 1977
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 161 lbs.

The Flyers succeeded in finding a diamond in the rough in Roman Cechmanek at the last NHL draft
and they hope to find another in Roman Malek, a star of the Czech Extraleague this season.
With Roman Cechmanek and Brian Boucher the Flyers are set in goal and Roman will stay with
HC Slavia Praha for at least two years. Roman is a very talented smallish goalie who made
his debut with the Czech national team this season.

There may be rumors that he is overhyped
by the media, but Roman plays really well. He is a butterfly goalie who recovers quickly, has
very fast reflexes, anticipates the game well and has a fast glove and blocker. Roman controls
almost all first shots, but can have some trouble with the rebounds. He also doesn’t like
heavy traffic in front of him. Roman can turn out to be another Czech goaltending gem, but he
won’t see playing time with the Flyers till one of the Boucher-Cechmanek duo leaves.

Sixth round

No. 167 Michal Blazek – Dallas Stars

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Slovnaft Vsetin
Born: April, 2nd, 1982
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 187 lbs.

Michal finally got drafted after he was overlooked at the 2000 draft. He had a very solid
season for the junior league finalist Vsetin and was one of the top defensive defensemen of
the elite junior league. Michal has a good size and is very mobile. He also posesses nice
passing skills and controls the game in his zone. Michal is a good hitter and can clear the
crease in front of his goalie.

With the troubles Vsetin senior team now faces Michal can see
a big portion of playing time next season and that will help him. Still a bit raw but Michal
can develop into a solid stay-at-home defenseman. He is still a longshot prospect to play for
the Stars but a good WJC can skyrocket him in the Stars depth chart.

No. 176 Marek Zidlicky – New York Rangers

Position: defenseman
Team: IFK Helsinki
Born: February, 3rd, 1977
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 180 lbs.

Finally, finally, I’m drafted! This was most likely one of the first thoughts of Marek Zidlicky
after he got to know about his selection. He was one of the top 1977 born defensemen, but
was overlooked at the 1995 and also at the 1996 NHL drafts. At one side Marek is really a nasty
hard-hitting defenseman who likes to fight, a good skater with great offensive instincts, can
make great passes and has a hard shot from the point, on the other side Marek is undersized and
had a bad influence on the team. That was five years ago.

The tough mean Marek with offensive
instincts remains, the bad influence on the team is gone. New York Rangers now have a player
who can contribute immediatel. NHL style will fit Marek well and Brian Rafalski proved that
size isn’t always necessary for NHL success. The situation about Rangers blueliners like Rich
Pilon or Sylvain Lefebvre remains uncertain and with a good camp Marek could fill one spot.

No. 183 Jaroslav Sklenar – Toronto Maple Leafs

Position: right wing
Team: HC Ytong Brno
Born: November, 22nd, 1982
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 170 lbs.

This Ytong Brno forward is a surprise pick for the Leafs. Jaroslav, a Rosice, Czech Republic, native,
didn’t play for any junior national teams except for one stint with the Under-19 team this
season. Jaroslav split time between the juniors and seniors of Ytong Brno this season. He
excelled on the second line of the junior team and after his promotion to the senior team he
soon became one of the stars of this Div I league team. He saw lots of PP time and his numbers
were very good. Jaroslav is a great skater with fast acceleration who drives hard to the net.
Is a very good puckhandler who upgrades his whole line.

Jaroslav’s drawbacks are his lack of
defensive play and sometimes low motivation. He was a star on a bad team, with better teammates
he could develop more. In one game this season he nearly outplayed Jihlava’s star and 2002
top prospect Marian Havel. Now he has a chance to play for Zlin in the Extraleague, but he can
try the lower North American leagues. But before he can come over he has to add at least 25 lbs.
of muscle, Jaroslav is really very skinny, he looks like the slimmest guy on the team.

No. 186 Petr Puncochar – Chicago Blackhawks

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary
Born: June, 8th, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 202 lbs.

Petr is one of the best 1983 born defensemen in the world, at 6’3” he would be a second round
pick at worst. Petr can play on the top line, he is very smart and can control the pace of the
game. Once on the puck, he passes it wisely and has a hard slap shot. Petr supports the defense
quite a lot and is effective on the powerplay. He isn’t afraid of the rough play and seems to
be a good hitter.

This season he was the star of the Under-18 team and had a stellar performance
at the Under-18 WJC. Played for Karlovy Vary in the Extraleague some games this season, in the
following he’ll see an increased role there. The Blackhawks lack quality defensemen, Steve
McCarthy is their brightest prospect, but Petr can surprise. If he has a good WJC, then the
Blackhawks staff can realize that they have a top prospect.

No. 191 Zbynek Novak – Washington Capitals

Position: left wing
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: July, 23rd, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195 lbs.

The Caps selected the HC Slavia Praha forward mainly because of his great performance at the
Under-18 WJC. Zbynek is a very good defensive winger who does little things well. He has a good
size and is almost unable to get knocked off the puck. Zbynek skates well for a big man and
doesn’t hesitate to shoot the puck. He has a powerful slapshot which is quite accurate. But
his pride is his defensive play. Zbynek supports his defensemen very well and his good passing
skills enable him to prepare quality scoring chances for his teammates. Zbynek could use his
big body more, which will be required from him in North America. The Caps have some defensive
forwards and they won’t count on Zbynek in the near future. They will let him develop into
a defensive specialist and after that they’ll have a look at him once again.

Seventh round

No. 197 Jan Holub – New York Islanders

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Liberec
Born: May, 3rd, 1983
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 185 lbs.

The Isles took the Liberec rearguard with the first pick of the seventh round and added another
Czech to overager Dusan Salficky. Holub is no overager, he made the NHL scouts notice him
at the Under-18 WJC. His reliable defensive play helped him to slip into the CSB final rankings
and finally to a selection by the Islanders. Jan played for the juniors of Liberec along with
Tomas Plihal this season and he is a reliable stay-at-home defenseman with very good size.

Speaking of size, Jan could use 20 lbs. of bulk to his frame. He doesn’t support the offense very much,
Jan stays in his own zone to break up the plays of the opposition. Jan uses his body effective
and can throw a hit. He also clears the crease in front of his goalie well. His problem is the
lack of offensive upside. His passing and shooting could be more improved. I think that the
CHL would be the best solution for him. He is a longshot prospect to play for the Isles, it’s
all up to him.

No. 206 Petr Preucil – New York Rangers

Position: center
Team: Quebec Remparts, QMJHL
Born: January, 21st, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 170 lbs.

The Rangers took the former Litvinov midgets center who spent this season with the Quebec
Remparts of the QMJHL. Petr is a bit of a surprise pick, but the Rangers must have seen
something in his play, which impressed them. Petr is a two-way center who isn’t afraid of the
rough stuff. He can play defensively quite well and has a dangerous slap shot.

Petr is also a gritty player who fights for the puck along the boards and in the corners. Players picked
so late are usually longshot prospects and so is the case of Petr. He won’t play for the
Rangers in the near future, he will probably continue his junior career in the QMJHL and then
it’ll be decided about his future.

No. 217 Tomas Duba – Pittsburgh Penguins

Position: goaltender
Team: HC Sparta Praha
Born: July, 2nd, 1981
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 175 lbs.

The two-time Under-20 WJC champion Tomas Duba slipped a lot on the draft ladder. He was
considered as second round material and went to the Pens in the second round. Tomas is a late
blooming goalie who anticipates the play well, has very quick reflexes and uses his glove
and pads very well. Tomas is also mentally strong and plays with lots of poise and confidence.
Tomas plays a butterfly style and it’s very hard to beat on the first shot.

The lack of playing
time in Sparta Praha forced him to move to the Finnish SM-Liiga for the next season. He can
learn there the duties of the starting goalie and after the time in Finland he can come over
to learn in the AHL before he can challenge for a spot with the Pens. They seem to find a
starter in Johan Hedberg and J.S. Aubin will fill the backup role for the future years, so it
may be tough to find a spot in Pittsburgh. But the trades may change everything.

No. 218 Jan Platil – Ottawa Senators

Position: defenseman
Team: Barrie Colts, OHL
Born: February, 9th, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 193 lbs.

Taken right after Tomas Duba, Jan Platil is an Ottawa Senator now. The tough defenseman led
the Czech team in penalty minutes at the Under-18 WJC with 20. That describes his play. Jan
played this season for the OHL’s Barrie Colts and is a tough player who plays very aggresive
and is always willing to give a hit. He can also take a hit to make a play. Jan supports the
offense very well, has good passing skills and a dangerous shot. He is very effective on the
powerplay. The Senators need young defensemen but it’ll probably be Anton Volchenkov who’ll
crack the lineup in the near future. Jan will play for the Colts at least one more season, but
more likely the next two and after that he could crack the Sens lineup. He is somewhat of a
sleeper and can develop into a NHL regular.

Eighth round

No. 243 Frantisek Lukes – Phoenix Coyotes

Position: left wing
Team: Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, OHL
Born: September, 25th, 1982
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 162 lbs.

The Coyotes seem to like the Czech players, they’ve taken huge Martin Podlesak in the second
round and this time they’ve taken a completely different player. Frankie is a speedy diminutive
winger with great acceleration, vision, hockey sense and scoring touch. Frankie handles the
puck very well and is very good in one-on-one situations. His speed and nifty moves help him
to deke the opposing defensemen. He is a finesse winger and as usual, the size is Frankie’s
problem. He can be knocked off the puck too easily and giant defensemen can bring him out
of scoring opportunities.

But Frankie was well worth an eighth round pick and he has the tools
to become a NHL player. He just needs to mature more and adjust to the tough North American
style more. The Yotes have a player of the simillar size in Daniel Briere, who proves that
a smallish forward can make it to the NHL. In three years Frantisek Lukes can be the next

No. 246 Tomas Mojzis – Toronto Maple Leafs

Position: defenseman
Team: Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL
Born: May, 2nd, 1982
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 186 lbs.

The Leafs were looking to add some Czech flavor to their defense. With the recent success of
Tomas Kaberle the Leafs can easily find another diamond in the rough. Tomas Mojzis was undrafted
after the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, but his solid season with the Moose Jaw Warriors earned him
a ticket for the draft. The Leafs look at Tomas as more of a longshot prospect who can surprise
in the future. Tomas is a solid two-way defenseman who makes only few mistakes. He can keep
his play simple and is a good passer.

He also added some toughness to his play in the WHL, but
this can be improved. In general, Tomas is a skilled blueliner who can support the offense.
He doesn’t look like a copy of Tomas Kaberle or defensive Petr Svoboda, but no one says that
Tomas won’t make it to the NHL. He’ll probably continue his junior career in the WHL and then
play for the Baby Leafs for some time before he can hope for a cup of coffee with the Leafs.

No. 253 Petr Cajanek – St. Louis Blues

Position: center
Team: HC Continental Zlin
Born: August, 18th, 1975
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 176 lbs.

The small player with a big heart finally got drafted. Petr Cajanek, a two-time World champion
is ready to leave his parent club of Zlin and try his luck in the Blues camp. Petr is a smallish,
more of a playmaker than a goalscorer. A great skater with fast acceleration, Petr posesses
very good smarts and hockey sense. At 26 he is a mature player who plays at top speed and
intensity. He never gives up and even if he hasn’t NHL size, he fights in the corners a lot
and wins lots of puck in those fights. His main problem is, like said, the size. Petr has to
become stronger in order to succeed in the NHL. He’ll probably see more playing time in
Worcester than in St. Louis, but he’ll try to succeed.

Ninth round

No. 262 Mario Cartelli – Atlanta Thrashers

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Ocelari Trinec
Born: November, 16th, 1979
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 195 lbs.

The Trinec defenseman was drafted three years after his draft year. Mario
was one of the best offensive defensemen of the Czech Extraleague this
season. He isn’t very big, but the size isn’t his drawback. Mario excells
at shooting and passing, but he sometimes makes mistakes in his own zone
and his decision making isn’t always proper.

But on the other hand the
Thrashers get a defenseman who has a good and accurate wrist and slap shot
and is a very effective passer. Mario is very useful on powerplay units.
He’ll most likely try the Thrashers camp and see if he makes the team.
He has some chances, but the Thrashers rely mostly on solid defense and
this isn’t the best side of Mario.

No. 266 Viktor Ujcik – Montreal Canadiens

Position: right wing
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: May, 24th, 1972
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 195 lbs.

The same as Petr Cajanek above, Viktor is an overage pick (he turns 30 next
season) who is a perfect skater. Viktor, orginally from Jihlava, Czech
Republic, played for Slavia Praha this year and he is a fast winger with
a very good scoring touch. Viktor drives hard to the net and is very good
in one-on-one situations. Viktor doesn’t play defensively very well but
his offensive upside has some flashes of Pavel Bure. He is a very good
puckhandler and has a fast accurate wrist shot.

Viktor excells on powerplay
units and when on a line with a creative center who gets him the puck,
Viktor can be the top goalscorer. As by Cajanek, the size is the problem.
Viktor needs to get stronger and at 5’10” he can be knocked off the puck
and he doesn’t like much traffic. The Habs are looking to upgrade their
roster at almost every position and Viktor could make it. It all depends
on his training camp.

No. 272 Ales Pisa – Edmonton Oilers

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Pojistovna Pardubice
Born: January, 2nd, 1977
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 195 lbs.

The Pardubice defenseman is now banned for 15 games from playing in the
Extraleague for an incident after a playoff game, when he punched a linesman,
who fell on the ice. That’s exactly Pisa. He isn’t too big, just 6’0”, but
a tough nasty defenseman who sometimes makes bad fouls. He doesn’t play
very fair with his stick and at the boards his elbows are sometimes too

On the other sides of his game, Ales needs to gain more consistency.
At times he plays a very good two-way game, the other time is more of
a liability. But when he has a good day, then he is really a threat. He can
throw very good hits, is willing to take a hit if it is necessary and Ales
uses his good stickhandling skills to make smart passes. He’ll try his luck
in the Oilers, but even there may be some spot free on the roster, I don’t
think that Ales will make the opening night roster. He can be invited for
some games, but staying with Bulldogs can help him make the team the next

No. 284 Viktor Hubl – Washington Capitals

Position: left wing
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: August, 13th, 1978
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 175 lbs.

Viktor left his Litvinov team to play for HC Slavia Praha the last season.
He filled a grinder role in Litvinov, but in Slavia Viktor blossomed into
a scoring winger on a line with Viktor Ujcik. Viktor is a fast creative
winger who can also play well defensively. He takes care of the defensive
duties, but if he isn’t requested to do so, then Viktor can finish and
prepare chances. He is a good skater and stickhandler with good hockey
sense and vision.

The Caps are set at forward position for now and it isn’t
very likely that Viktor can crack the next year’s roster. Staying with
Slavia would help him more, he played his first games for the national
team this season and he can make a name for himself in the international

No. 285 Marek Tomica – Dallas Stars

Position: left wing
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: January, 1st, 1981
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 172 lbs.

The Stars took one of the role players of the winning Czech Under-20 team
with their last pick in the draft. Marek skated on the third line of
HC Slavia Praha this year and his future can be the one of a depth player.
Marek isn’t a scorer, even if he is quite creative with the puck, he can
play defensively well. Good at backcheck Marek can break the plays of
the opposition. He isn’t very big, he uses his smarts and reading of plays
to do so.

Marek is a good skater and has also offensive upside. He is
a good puckhandler and makes accurate passes. Marek won’t play for the
Stars in the near future, if he’ll be signed, then he can play in the AHL,
but staying with Slavia for one more season would be better. He is a
longshot prospect to play in the NHL and his draft was a little surprise.