Q&A with Ivan Baranka

By Jeff Dahlia


New York Rangers prospect defenseman Ivan Baranka in his second season with the Everett Silvertips of the
WHL. He is currently making the adjustment to the rigors of the North American style of hockey.

Before joining Everett, Baranka was taken by the Rangers in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft with their
second overall pick. After he was selected in the second round, 50th overall that year, he decided to
take advantage of the Silvertips import draft selection and make the jump immediately. Prior to North American and the WHL, Baranka played the 2002-03 season with Dubnica, in the Slovakian junior league.

He has also participated in the past two U-20 World Junior Championships for Team Slovakia. Before the U-20 international forum, he played on the U-18 WJC team in 2003.

Baranka spoke with Hockey’s Future last weekend after a big match-up with the Seattle Thunderbirds at the Key Arena. He talked about his game, the difference between the North American and European games, the 2005 WJC and his possible future with the Rangers.

HF: Growing up, who was your idol?

IB: Every player in the NHL because they made it in the best league in the world.

HF: Did hockey come easy to you or did you have to work at it?

IB: I had to work on it but if you work and compete, you are going to get what you want.

HF: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

IB: I’ve got to focus on my defensive zone coverage. I have a good breakout, my discipline and my
+20. You really have to improve all areas of your game.

HF: What was it like to join the Everett Silvertips in the WHL last season?

IB: I had a little problem for a while. The rink is smaller and the game is more physical
than technical. In Europe there is really no physical play. Over there you make skilled plays and have a huge rink. You get a lot of time on the ice. I really like it here though.

HF: So what did you do to adjust to the game for North America?

IB: You have to make quick decisions. You don’t have much time. You have to have your head on a swivel and see the game and make some good plays. That will help you. I got a lot of workouts to be strong in the corners. Guys are also strong here so I have to be strong too.

HF: Since it is more of a skilled game in Europe, does that work to your advantage here?

IB: It is good because you because if you are strong, it is hard to get that skill. If you have that skill, it is easier to get stronger because you just put yourself in a gym and work and work and work. It is a little better for us.

HF: You played some of your best hockey in the playoffs last year with Everett. What was the difference?

IB: I always say the playoffs are very different from the season. Everyone is working twice as hard
than normal like in the season.

HF: How was the 2005 WJC this year with Team Slovakia?

IB: We thought we had a great team. I can tell you that we only lost one bad game against Sweden 0-3. It moved us into the losers side. I think we did pretty well. Obviously we lost to Team Canada but they were a good team. Like I said the most important game against Sweden, we lost. It was a pretty disappointing moment for me.

HF: How was it for you to play in the tournament?

IB: I like it. It is always a good experience. You always get a chance to play with the best guys and players in the world and I feel I can play with them. Stuff like that is always going to help you.

HF: How was it to get drafted by the New York Rangers?

IB: It was the nicest moment for me ever. I always dream about playing on a NHL team. Especially the Rangers because I remember when I was a young kid, I had lots of shirts and hats with the Rangers on it. It’s great to be with them.

HF: How was it to sign a contract with the Rangers this summer?

IB: It was the second nicest moment in my hockey career. I really like it because it is good motivation to make the next level.

HF: Does the Rangers management contact you and help you with your development?

IB: I get a few phone calls and e-mails. Yeah, they try to help me. I am still young and I have to learn a lot so it is good for me.

HF: What do you have to do to make it at the next level?

IB: I have to improve everything I am doing on the ice. Obviously I have to get stronger because those guys are really strong. I need to compete, do the best with my opportunities and try my best. I need to show the Rangers
that I am a good player.

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