Czech CHL Import Draft – Part 2

By Robert Neuhauser
A total of 18 Czech players were selected at this year’s CHL Import Draft. For information
about the top 11 picks please see Part 1 of this article, now I’ll try to feature the
remaining 7 players.

No. 36 Martin Kuna – Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: March, 7th, 1983
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Shoots: R
NHL draft: 2002 eligible

The Drakkar selected the Slavia Praha defenseman, who played only sparingly for the junior
national teams. Martin played his first season for the Slavia juniors and displayed a tough
defensive play. As a rookie, he didn’t have lots of opportunities to prove his qualities in
important game situations and was overlooked at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Martin is a reliable
stay-at-home defenseman who hasn’t a big offensive upside. His passing and shooting skills
could be improved, but Martin relies on his positional play and defensive skills. Never considered
as a serious prospect, Martin is hoping that he can impress in the QMJHL. He is very likely
to come over, but I doubt that he can turn into a serious NHL prospect.

No. 37 Jakub Klepis – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Position: center
Team: HC Slavia Praha
Born: June, 5th, 1984
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 185 lbs.
Shoots: R
NHL draft: 2002 eligible

Jakub, a steady contributor for the Czech Under-17 team (was one of the top Czech goalscorers
at the World Hockey Challenge with two, scored 17 points in 21 games for the Under-17 team)
was instrumental in the HC Slavia Praha win in the
Czech midget Extraleague. Jakub played already for the juniors for most of the season, but
returned to the midgets for the playoffs and helped them to defeat Trinec in the finals and
capture the title. Jakub, one of the top 1984 born Czech forwards, is an aggresive right-shooting
center who is very good on the offensive side. He is a great forechecker and a very good skater
with terrific puckhandling skills. Jakub is also aggresive, very intense and uses his body
well. The WHL will be the best for his style of game. Jakub will be a high pick in the 2002
NHL draft and a season in the WHL will most likely contribute to this fact. He is suited to
play North American hockey and it is good for him that he can start learning in the WHL.

No. 43 Matej Trojovsky – Regina Pats (WHL)

Position: defenseman
Team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Born: October, 12th, 1984
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Shoots: L
NHL draft: 2003 eligible

Matej Trojovsky is a former Plzen midgets defenseman with very good size and a nasty side,
needed in North America. He left the Plzen midgets and the Under-17 team after the first
tournament of the Under-17 team, a three-game series against the Germans of the same age.
His next destination were the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. His stint with the Stars was limited
to 17 games, in which Matej notched one goal before being released. Matej is a hard-nosed
defensive rearguard with a low offensive upside. But Matej can use his big body well enough
to stop the opposition’s attacks and excell on the defensive size. He can keep the play in front
of him and is very good in clearing the space in front of the net. Matej can throw big hits
and is stabile on his skates. On the offensive side, Matej posesses a huge slap shot, but he
could release it more quickly and accurate. He’ll need to improve his passes to bring his
offensive game to another level. The rough WHL is the best for Matej, not eligible until the
2003 NHL draft. If Filip Novak doesn’t make the Rangers’ team or won’t be send to the Wolf
Pack, then Matej will have a great mentor.

No. 54 Jonas Fidler – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

Position: right wing
Team: SK Jihlava
Born: May, 29th, 1984
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 175 lbs.
Shoots: R
NHL draft: 2002 eligible

Jonas Fidler split this season between the midgets and juniors of SK Jihlava. He was also called
to play for the Under-17 team on three different occasions, including the World Hockey Challenge
and the Europa’s Youth Olympics, scoring two assists. Now it is very likely that he’ll be heading Ontario to play
for the Whalers. Jonas is a feisty competitive player who fights very hard for the puck and
has a big heart. Jonas never takes a shift off
and gives 110% every game. He is very aggresive and in 2000-2001 Jonas amassed more than 150 PIMs
in the soft Czech midget Extraleague. Like most other players selected in this draft, Jonas
has a good chance to succeed in North American hockey and the transition won’t be so hard for
him. On the downside Jonas could skate better and improve his decision making and shooting skills
if he wants to be considered a serious prospect.


No 56. Robin Kovar – Vancouver Giants (WHL)

Position: center/right wing
Team: HC Slovnaft Vsetin
Born: April, 2nd, 1984
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Shoots: R
NHL draft: 2002 eligible

After taking Havel with the top pick, the Giants selected another Czech forward, pegged as a
first round prospect for the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Robin, orginally from Valasske Mezirici,
Czech Republic, played for the juniors of HC Slovnaft Vsetin, even if he was still midget
league eligible. Robin was also called up once to play in the Extraleague for one game. The
reason, why Robin Kovar is a top prospect, is his great blend of size and skill. Robin has the
size and toughness required in North America to go along with his great hands, vision and
scoring touch. Robin passes and scores equally well, is a big threat on the powerplay and with
his size he can also score from in front of the net. His shooting arsenal is also very good
and he has a fast accurate wrsit shot and a heavy slap shot. Robin is a huge offensive prospect,
not overly defensive, but a future NHLer. He has the size to succeed in the WHL, but he is
more of a finesse player. With the problems of the Vsetin team Robin could see playing time
in the Extraleague and this would be great for him. If he chooses to play in the WHL, he can
at least get used to another playing style quickly.

No. 72 Jaroslav Sklenar – Ottawa 67’s

Position: right wing
Team: HC Ytong Brno
Born: November, 22nd, 1982
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 169 lbs.
Shoots: R
NHL draft: Toronto Maple Leafs 6th round choice, 183th overall

Brian Kilrea’s Ottawa 67’s have a good history in taking Leafs European draft picks and this
time it was the former Ytong Brno winger Jaroslav Sklenar. Jaroslav is more of a hidden prospect.
He appeared only two times in a junior national team during this season. For the first time
it was a three-game stint with the Under-19 team and secondly a Four nations tournament of the
Under-20 teams in April. After being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jaroslav heads North
America. He’ll most likely dismiss Zlin’s offer to play in the Extraleague and hone his skills
in the OHL. Jaroslav is a very good skater with fast acceleration and smooth puckhandling skills.
He drives hard to the net, but is a finesse player. He is very good on the powerplay, which
he proved during his stint with the Ytong Brno seniors, when he soon became a key factor of
the powerplay. Jaroslav also has good stickhandling skills and is a good passer. His light
weight is his biggest drawback for North American style of game. Jaroslav looks very tall, more
6’3” than 6’1”, but that’s because he is very thin. Upper body strength and intensity will
be needed to work on if he wants to succeed.

No. 79 Martin Toms – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)

Position: defenseman
Team: HC Becherovka Karlovy Vary
Born: December, 21st, 1983
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Shoots: L
NHL draft: 2002 eligible

Martin played at all tournaments of the Under-18 team in 2000-2001, including the Under-18 WJC.
There he scored the important game-winning goal in the game against Sweden. One of the best
players on the roster of the Karlovy Vary juniors is a positionally sound blueliner with a
nice offensive upside. Martin delivers smart accurate passes to his teammates and is very
useful on the powerplay. Martin can develop into a powerplay quarterback in the future. He is
a good skater with a great hockey sense. Besdies all this plusses Martin is also a reliable
defenseman who doesn’t make lots of mistakes. He wouldn’t be playing for the Karlovy Vary
seniors in the next season and he is very likely to come to the QMJHL. This a very good league
for his offensive instincts and Martin’s draft stock could raise. Even then he is a good
prospect for the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

So this is the crop of the Czech players in the 2001 CHL Import Draft. Most of those players
will come over and most of them have a good chance to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft or
were drafted previously. Now they have to take another step, leave their families, friends
and Czech style of hockey and meet new friends and learn Canadian style of hockey on their
way to the NHL. Good luck to each of them!