Roman Vondracek- 2003 eligible prospect

By Ivana Paulova

On of the many late born 1984 players who still has one year and a half before being potential draft pick of one of the NHL teams. Right now Roman Vondracek is a player of the junior team of Sparta Praha but his history as far as different teams are concerned is very rich. He is a member of the U-18 national selection which has participated on the Viking Cup taking place in Canada. Roman played good games there where for most of the time he was a first liner and scored 1 goal.

Roman gained the nomination to Viking Cup taking by his good performance in a tournament taking place in Slovakia at the beginning of November. Czech squad performed really well there wining the tournament in Kezmarok with full points beating Russia 3:1, Slovakia 7:1 and Germany 6:0. Roman played all 3 games where he scored 1 goal and had 2 assissts.

As many other players who are now members of Sparta also Roman isn’t Prague native. He comes from town of Trutnov which is on the North of Czech Republic. But as usual he was taken to hockey rink by his dad who liked to watch hockey. Roman was about 5 when he first stood on the ice. His dad wanted Roman desperately to do something and hopefully also achieve something. Hockey seemed as a good option for him. In the 4th grade Roman started to play for Nachod which is about an hour away from Trutnov. Roman’s dad was taking him there everyday. In the 5th grade his talent was spotted by coach of Hradec Kralove when Nachod came to play against them. Roman was presented with a new offer and he accepted that. This lasted till the 7th grade. Kladno which is famous for good work with the youth teams, they asked Roman if he wants to play for them. Kladno is quite far from Trutnov but once again Roman had support of his patents and joined Kladon’s 7 graders. He stayed there till the midgets category but then there were problems between Roman and Kladno’s management. He was advised to rather change the team. Roman had an offer from two Prague teams: Sparta and Slavia, but Roman decided for Sparta. Sparta enthusiastically grabbed him and he moved to Prague where he came along with Jakub Langhammer. Sparta found school and housing for him. After a half season spend in midgets Roman was called up to juniors and did well. It was much easier for him to be a steady member of the junior team roster this season after the previous experience.

Roman is in the 2nd year of high school and he still has 2 more years to go. He would like to finish his studies but hockey appears to be too demanding. In his free time he relaxes by playing computer games or watching rented movies especially thrillers. In TV he likes to watch soccer. As a childhood dream Roman wanted to be a ski jumper but he didn’t ever have the opportunity to try it. If is hockey career would not work out the way he wants, then architecture would be something that interests him. To define Roman’s personality is not an easy task. His mood can change quickly on-ice he is very impulsive but takes seriously the responsibility. He is easily made angry but it fades fast. When he doesn’t play well he is taking it too seriously what he sees as problem and he is always thinking what he could do better. Despite this Roman is the type of guy that is really fun to be with because his jokes are vital support in any circumstances. He can appear shy but this is just the first impression!

Technical style of play is what suits Roman the best, as he is a smallish player he can’t think of any hard fights but he doesn’t shy away from physical style of play. His technique is really on a high level and that is why he is so valued not only in the Sparta’s juniors but also in the U-18 national selection. The extraordinary stick handling abilities are real surprise for the audience. Smart style of play is other virtue of this young player, he can think of so many combinations but his biggest advantage is he can put his ideas into practice. His excellent vision and hockey sense make him very useful player. Critiques point out that he is passing too much rather than to shoot the puck. Roman agrees and he is working on his shooting right now. Roman has a pretty good movement, balance and speed so his skating abilities are satisfactory. For good performance he needs some able forwards in the line. As he is the brain of the line usually he prefers to have another smart player next to him who would also be responsible two-way forward and second big guy who would create space infront of the goalie. Roman plays with passion and with his heart which hopefully would mean good future for him.

Roman’s national selection career has began when he was 14, he was invited for the first time to the U-16 national selection. His became a stable member of the youth selections and he was invited to almost all meeting. Last season and this season he is member of the U-18 selection. The biggest disappointment for him was last season when the first tournament he played in the 4th line and the next time was not invited to the last years Viking Cup. But his over all performance was good like this season in the Tournament of 6 which took place in Czech Republic in August Roman had 2 goals and 3 assists on 5 games. But he is still waiting for his biggest success. Every time he changed teams he was the youngest one there so he could not really demand any number and just took what was left now he has number 29 and he says that is quite a good number. He doesn’t prefer any special rituals. His favorite player is David Vyborny former Sparta Praha member and among the NHL teams Roman likes Columbus Blue Jackets.

The next 2 years are going to be crucial for Roman, that is the time when he seriously needs to decide where to play and also concentrate maximally. Roman’s current team is Sparta Praha he is playing for the juniors there. Roman would like to soon play in senior category because playing in juniors is no longer beneficial in 2 years time and it doesn’t help players develop anymore. Roman is quite suspicious about his future and says that maybe in the next season he can still stay in juniors but then the best thing is to play in senior category. It is very hard in Sparta for a young player to be given a chance in the “A” team as Toman Netik can tell him about. Roman is aware of that and hopes that there will be some opportunity for him. Finland and Sweden don’t seem that bad but Roman has never seen the league teams play so he can’t judge. The style that is played in the Czech Extraleague is very technical and that is what Roman enjoys the most, he would like to be given a chance and play Extralegue here. The biggest advantage of Sparta is the very good back round but also that Sparta is the most frequently visited stadium by agents and scouts so players are under watchful eye. To play in North America is a bit skeptical as Roman has a smallish figure. The style of play over sees is probably too rough for Roman and he wouldn’t enjoy the style of play there anyway. The only good option is QMJHL which is said to be very technical and so may be a good solution. This is only hypothetical and many things can still happen this or next season.

The plans for the nearest future are to play well in the juniors and keep up in the U-18 selection for the World Championship. Good performance will for sure influence the results on the draft but this is still far away and Roman is aware that he still needs to work very hard to achieve some success.