Czech 2005 prospects: an early look at 10

By Robert Neuhauser

Below is a look at 10 Czech 2005 eligible prospects.

Vladimir Sobotka, F

HC Slavia Praha Sr. 8GP 0G 1A 1P +1 4PIM
HC Slavia Praha Jr. 7GP 4G 6A 10P -1 12PIM

The opening month turned out to be successful for the industrious
forward Vladimir Sobotka, who took the junior Extraleague by storm during
the first three weeks of play. Sobotka is continuing his quick progress
and has separated himself from the rest of his Slavia Praha junior
teammates with his crafty offensive play and an ability to play bigger than
his size and perform in traffic with regularity. Sobotka was sitting
atop the Czech junior Extraleague scoring race after four games and now
is still tied for the lead on the Slavia Praha junior team even though he
doesn’t travel to all the games. His efforts earned him a promotion to
the deep Slavia Praha senior team, where his role is reduced to a
fourth line duty thanks to the presence of several NHL players on the roster.
He doesn’t see much ice time on the senior team and no power play time,
which does also reflect in his stats.

Jakub Vojta, D

HC Sparta Praha Jr. 13GP 0G 3A 3P even 10PIM

The Sparta Praha defenseman did not pick up where he left at the
Under-18 Junior Cup and went through an uninspiring opening month of regular
season competition. Vojta doesn’t show the same intensity and
determination and those drawbacks are putting him into coach Jaromir Sindel’s
doghouse. Consistency is obviously a issue with this promising
defenseman, who needs to convince his coach that he will show up every
night. Vojta displays a penchant to pull off a promising showing before
going unnoticed in the next game. A skilled puck-moving defenseman, Vojta
didn’t register a noticeable progress in his physical play and
aggressiveness. He is holding his own relatively well, but doesn’t seem to be
really involved in the games and give his best effort. More offensive
contribution is asked from a prospect of his caliber, Vojta needs to
upgrade on his overall play in the next months or his draft stock is going
to see severe damage.

Tomas Kudelka, D

HC Hame Zlin Jr. 10GP 4G 2A 6P +1 10PIM

The swift-skating Zlin defenseman is challenging Jakub Vojta for the
top Czech 2005 eligible defenseman and is slightly overtaking him at this
set of things. Kudelka spent the summer practicing with the senior team
and shows a remarkable composure on the ice for the Zlin junior team.
Not a pure offensive-minded rearguard, Kudelka is creative with the
puck and looks for openings to make a long outlet pass, but still is careless with the puck at times and turns the puck over. A player blessed with above-average physical
tools, Kudelka isn’t a major physical force and needs to work on developing
a nasty edge in his play, but overall registered a solid opening month.
He ranks fifth in scoring on his Zlin junior team and is leading the
defensemen scoring chart at this point. He still can’t avoid the odd
off-games, though. The hope is here that the best is yet to come this

Martin Hanzal, F

HC Ceske Budejovice Jr. 11GP 9G 5A 14P even 22PIM

Martin Hanzal made a solid name for himself at the Under-18 Junior Cup
and is asked to make use of all his previous experience to emerge as
one of the leaders of his Ceske Budejovice team. At this point Martin
Hanzal sits at the second place in the Ceske Budejovice juniors scoring
race, where the top place is occupied by his older brother Jiri tied
with Milan Gulas. Hanzal is showing progress in his in-close finishing
skills and develops a better knack for scoring goals, which was his
drawback during the previous seasons. A solid passer, Hanzal does show the
defensive awareness he displayed during the previous season, but needs to
put his commitment to the defensive play on display more often. He has
the size to emerge as a solid physical presence and Hanzal gets
involved in traffic, where he can be a solid force with an adequate mean
streak. Hanzal is off to a promising start and his development curve
is taking an upward path.

David Kuchejda, F

HC Ceske Budejovice Jr. 13GP 2G 8A 10P +1 18PIM

Just like his longtime linemate Martin Hanzal, David Kuchejda is coming
off an above-average showing at the Under-18 Junior Cup. The Ceske
Budejovice junior team is counting on him to provide a good part of the
offensive punch and Kuchejda is only particularly meeting the
expectations. He needs to find consistency as he can be a non-factor after an
impressive game. Kuchejda is asked to fill a role of a set-up player on the
Ceske Budejovice junior team and he leads the squad in assists by a
decent margin. Kuchejda takes advantage of his solid vision and awareness
of his linemates to create quality plays. As a player who has the size
woes pointing against him, Kuchejda has still to prove that he is able
to battle traffic effectively with regularity. With the Ceske
Budejovice senior team setting its goal at winning the Div I senior league,
Kuchejda isn’t expected to see much playing time on the senior levels, but
is along with Hanzal among the frontrunners for promotion should
injuries strike the senior squad.

Lukas Klimek, F

HC Sareza Ostrava Jr. 10GP 4G 6A 10P -2 33PIM

Lukas Klimek registered a whooping start into the junior Extraleague
regular season with a seven-point effort in two games, but cooled off
dramatically in the next six games, where he was held scoreless and rather
unimpressive in the games. After ten games played Klimek ranks third on
his Sareza Ostrava junior team scoring chart, trailing the leaders
Vojtech Klecka and Filip Mleko by one and six points respectively. The
enigmatic Sareza Ostrava forward still suffers from a lack of muscle
especially in the lower body and therefore a sub-par balance and strength. He
isn’t a steady force when it comes down to handle heavy traffic and his
points have a tendency to come in streaks. Klimek possesses solid skating
skills and is adept at finding the open man, but needs to show a
willingness to upgrade on his aggressiveness and a constant effort to improve
on his physical strength.

Tomas Pospisil, F

HC Ocelari Trinec Jr. 10GP 6G 3A 9P +2 12PIM

A pleasant surprise during the first four weeks of the Czech junior
Extraleague’s regular season was the upgraded play of slick Trinec right
winger Tomas Pospisil. Pospisil seems to realize how important is this
season for his future career and ranks among the hardest working players
on the Trinec junior team. The added bulk has a positive influence on
his composure and playing style as he added an adequate physical
dimension to his game. Even if he isn’t a significant physical force, he can’t
be labeled soft now and his quick skating skills along with a
persistence around the goal area make from him a regular point contributor.
Tomas Pospisil is leading his Trinec junior team in scoring at this point,
the first time in his career he achieved this feat. If he can keep up
his play and determination also in the upcoming months, watch for his
stock to rise.

Martin Husicka, F

HC Vsetin Jr. 11GP 0G 2A 2P -1 6PIM

The diminutive Vsetin forward ranks among the biggest disappointments
of the previous junior Extraleague action. Husicka already possesses
plenty of experience from the elite junior level from the previous season,
but he fails to take his game to another level and impress in games. Husicka isn’t a significant contributor and is fitting the mold of a
perimeter player. Even if he is blessed with above-average skating
skills, his wheels can’t make up for his severe size deficiency and Husicka
isn’t a factor when asked to handle traffic. He can be pushed out of
scoring lanes and hasn’t found a way to score a goal so far.
Average in his own end, Husicka is in a slump and has to convince people
that he is able to contribute. His stock is falling down and don’t expect
him to be picked in the 2005 draft unless he is able to turn his game
completely around.

Vaclav Lesak, D

HC Moeller Pardubice Jr. 12GP 1G 3A 4P even 10PIM

Relatively quietly Vaclav Lesak seems to find a way to emerge as
one of the better 2005 eligible defensemen performing in the Czech junior
Extraleague. A player blessed with solid size, Lesak fits the mold of a
more conservative defensively-minded rearguard who isn’t afraid of
executing along the boards and throw the occasional hit. Lesak works hard
down low and is a solid force in his own end. Even if his stats may
indicate that he is developing an offensive side to his play, his style
didn’t change from the previous year. Lesak is far from a two-way
defender and his offensive output is rather limited thanks to an average
vision and awareness of his linemates. Still he is well underway to posting
career number in points as his previous record set in 2003-04 with the
Pardubice midgets is 9 points. Lesak isn’t a top prospect as he is
quite raw and inconsistent, but is a player who could be worth taking a
look in the late rounds if he shows a steady progress in his play.

Ondrej Pavelec, G

HC Rabat Kladno Jr. 509 minutes 287 saves 2.71 GAA .925 SVP

The talented Kladno juniors netminder is enjoying a solid start into
the junior Extraleague season after backstopping the Czech Under-18 team
to a second-place finish at the Under-18 Junior Cup. Pavelec splits
duties with sophomore junior netminder Vit Schwamberger and managed to get
the starter’s duties under his control after an inspiring performance
in the summer exhibition games. Pavelec is playing behind a talented,
but very young defensive corps and the team’s success will highly depend
from his performance in this season. The quick and athletic Pavelec is
performing up to par so far, being ranked sixth overall among junior
Extraleague goaltenders in save percentage, but all the netminders at the
spots in front of him are more seasoned players. Pavelec performed only
at the 9th grade level two seasons ago and is a fast-progressing
netminder who has a chance to be picked in the draft if he avoids significant

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