Czech 2004 prospects update

By Robert Neuhauser

A look at the Czech prospects selected in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and playing
the 2004-05 season in the Czech Republic.

Rostislav Olesz
Position: center/left wing
Team: HC Sparta Praha Sr.
Birthdate: October 10th, 1985
Height: 6’1
Weight: 204 lbs.
NHL draft: Florida Panthers, 1st round, 7th overall

2004-05 stats: HC Sparta Praha Sr. 16GP 1G 3A 4P even

Loaned to Sparta Praha from Vitkovice after the conclusion of the
2003-04 season, the Florida Panthers’ first-round pick Rostislav Olesz is
experiencing his first full year with Sparta. Vitkovice head coach Ladislav Svozil held back Olesz’s offensive potential last year to make him a dependable
defensive-minded forward and even though he succeeded well in filling this
duty, Olesz had hopes to play a less defensively-orientated role in
Sparta and play more of an all-round game.

The strongly-built Olesz had
impressive fitness results during the summer and should have seen a lot
of playing time in Sparta, but the NHL lockout effected those predictions. Even though he maintained his playing spot with the senior team, Olesz
is performing mostly on the third or fourth line and his power play and
penalty killing time have seen a cut. He isn’t used only as a shut-down
forward, but filling his duties at both ends of the ice conscientiously is
still a prime task for Olesz. His strong commitment to two-way play means that his offensive production is kept only at average levels.

Ladislav Smid
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Bili Tygri Liberec Sr.
Birthdate: February, 1st, 1986
Height: 6’3
Weight: 209 lbs.
NHL draft: Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 1st round, 9th overall

2004-2005 stats:
HC Bili Tygri Liberec Sr. 14GP 0G 1A 1P even 4PIM
HC Bili Tygri Liberec Jr. 1GP 0G 1A 1P even 0PIM

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks’ first round pick is registering steady
progress in his development in the Czech senior Extraleague. Smid is one of
the defensive anchors of his Liberec team and continues the tradition
of playing alongside experienced veteran Valdemar Jirus for the second
year in a row now. Jirus guided the newcomer Smid in the senior Extraleague trade last season and this year they form the elite defensive unit of the team. Smid is a regular member of the
Liberec power play and penalty killing units and is developing an offensive
side after playing more of a defensive style last season. Smid shows
remarkable poise when moving the puck, but manages to return to his own
end quickly thanks to his above-average skating skills for a big man.
Smid was considered a potential member of the Czech senior national team
for the upcoming Karjala Cup in Finland, but ended up being named to the
Under-20 team, which will take part in the upcoming WJC.

Jakub Sindel
Position: center/right wing
Team: HC Sparta Praha Sr.
Birthdate: January, 24th, 1986
Height: 6’0
Weight: 167 lbs.
NHL draft: Chicago Blackhawks, 2nd round, 54th overall

2004-2005 stats:
HC Sparta Praha Sr. 6GP 0G 2A 2P +2 0PIM
HC Sparta Praha Jr. 5GP 1G 8A 9P +2 10PIM
HC Horacka Slavia Trebic (Div I) 4GP 0G 0A -3 0PIM

The NHL lockout trickle-down effect has hit the Chicago Blackhawks’ second-round
selection the hardest among his 2004 peers who stayed in the Czech Republic this year. Sindel broke into the senior Extraleague in 2003-04 and managed to stick around during the playoffs as the only draft-eligible prospect in Sparta. This season he was about to
build on his experience and upgrade on his toughness and
defensive awareness, which were his major drawbacks prior to the draft.
However, with the NHLers Petr Nedved, Jan Hlavac and David Vyborny
returning to Sparta Praha for the duration of the lockout, Sindel found
himself the odd man out, toiling occasionally on the fourth line. The
junior Extraleague doesn’t provide any more challenge for him with Sindel
averaging nearly two points per game for the junior squad and easily
dominating with his slick skating and offensive prowess. A native of
Jihlava, Sindel hoped to find a home in the nearby Div I franchise Trebic,
but didn’t establish himself as a regular on the roster and splits time
between Sparta and Trebic at this point.

Stanislav Balan
Position: center
Team: HC Hame Zlin Jr.
Birthdate: January, 30th, 1986
Height: 6’1
Weight: 163 lbs.
Shoots: L
NHL draft: Nashville Predators, 7th round, 209th overall

2004-2005 stats: HC Hame Zlin Jr. 15GP 8G 5A 13P +1 46PIM

Stanislav Balan’s agent Jaroslav Jirik, a member of the corporation
spearheaded by Mark Gandler, was persuading his client to come over to
play in the CHL in 2004-05, but Balan decided to stay at home for at
least one more season. He played his senior Extraleague debut at
mid-season of 2003-04 and added two more games later, so a
spot on the fourth line was not out of the question for the talented
forward. Balan originally would play center to the twins Roman and
Michal Psurny, but Roman Psurny’s departure for the WHL’s Medicine Hat
Tigers and more importantly the NHL lockout put an end to those plans.
The arrivals of Martin Erat from Nashville, Petr Cajanek from St. Louis
and Jaroslav Kristek from the AHL’s Rochester Americans didn’t leave
any room on the senior team for Balan, who is counted on to emerge as an
offensive leader of the Zlin junior team instead. Balan logs a lot of playing time, but his point productivity ranks a bit behind expectations as Balan has some trouble with battling heavy traffic effectively. The whole Zlin junior team is struggling and Balan will
be asked to step his scoring up in the next weeks. His recent
five-point outburst in the game against Ostrava may indicate the
arrival of better times.

Lukas Vomela
Position: defenseman
Team: HC Ceske Budejovice Sr./Jr.
Birthdate: September, 25th, 1985
Height: 6’2
Weight: 180 lbs.
NHL draft: Dallas Stars, 8th round, 248th overall

2004-2005 stats: HC Ceske Budejovice Jr. 2GP 0G 0A 0P -1

The 2004-05 season is already well underway in the Czech
Republic, but Lukas Vomela has a mere two games under his belt.
Health problems forced him to stay out of the junior Extraleague lineup. With the Ceske Budejovice senior team being relegated from the Extraleague to the Div I senior league and aiming at an immediate
return to the elite level next season, there is only little space left
for young defensemen on the roster. Vomela boasts senior experience
already from the previous season, when he was called up from the junior
team to the Extraleague and maintained his playing spot as a top-six
defenseman till the injury bug hit him badly during the second half of the
season. The ultimate goal for Vomela is to regain his confidence in the
junior Extraleague where he should be a dominating force with his
strong size mixed with defensive savvy. If Vomela gets into playing shape
quickly, he could see playing time in the Div I senior league, but rather
in a limited role.

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.