Not only is Finland the destination for scouts and
management, it is also the destination for a great number of player agents.
Allan Walsh, a well-known NHL agent took in the Czech and Swiss teams. As Walsh
has great success getting great young players to work with, we asked him to
talk about some of his prospects involved in the 2004 WJC. First a little bit
of background on Mr. Walsh.
A native of Chomedey-Laval, a suburb of Montreal,
Walsh graduated from McGill University with a major in political science before
leaving to California to study the Law. He then met David Schatia and both
formed the Beverly Hills Sports Council (BHSC) company. The bureau has numerous
branches in Montreal, Moscow, Trencin and Prague.
Walsh and his partner have 35 clients in the NHL,
including Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat, Richard Zednik, Pierre-Marc Bouchard,
Pascal Dupuis, and the 2003 number one overall pick Marc-Andre Fleury who
is in Finland for Team Canada. These players will soon have good company as the
young prospects associated with his firm playing for their national teams at
these WJC in Finland include Tim Ramhold
for Team Switzerland, Stephen Dixon
for Team Canada, Rotislav Olesz, Lukas Kaspar and Michal Barinka for the Czech team, Vladimir Kutny, Martin
Sagat Stefan Ruzicka and Jaroslav Halak for Team Slovakia. Walsh commented on two of them.
On Halak (Montreal’s pick, 2003), Walsh said he
received very good comments from Rollie Melanson the assistant coach of Montreal
“He told me he was one of the best young goalie
he ever seen,” said Walsh. Halak has very quick hands and feet, an excellent
technique and covers very well the angles.
“He is a great worker and was the best goalie at
the last U18 World Championship. He had a superb progression this year,
starting with in the junior level and now playing in the Extraleague for HC Slovan Bratislava.”
Walsh added that Halak reminds him Ed
Belfour. Halak has not signed yet with the Habs. “We
are a year or two before having discussions about that,” said the agent who
noted there is yet to be a Slovak goalie to make the NHL.
Halak is the number one Slovak goalie at the WJC. He
helped his team to earn an impressive 2-2 tie game against the Czechs. He lost
0-5 against the strong USA team (43 shots).
“Olesz is an unbelievable kid,” said Walsh when
asked to comment about the tall Czech left wing. Walsh added he is a very hard
worker with a good sense of hockey and a very good playmaker who is very strong
with the puck. “A typical power forward,” said Walsh.
“Rostislav played in the Czech Extraleague at
the age of 15 and scored on his first shift on the ice. He is now playing as a
third liner with Katovice in the Extraleague in a checking role,” said Walsh,
adding, “I think he has a lot of offensive upside and could be a first or
second liner in NHL.”
The prospect will be eligible in the next NHL Entry
Draft. Some say that he could be picked as early as top 5. Walsh is more
cautious, saying Olesz is a sure first rounder. “The rest of the season
will determine when he goes,” commented Walsh, who declined to personally make
any comparison with an actual NHLer. Nevertheless, he said that many Czechs
around Olesz call him Jagr2.
Olesz has had a great tournament in Finland so far.
After three games, he has three goals and four points.
is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the
Summit Series published in 2002. At the 2003 WJC, he collaborated for the
Montreal newspaper La Presse. This year, he is collaborating with Radio-Canada.