Sparta’s promising prospects

By Ivana Paulova

Of the hundred European players expected to be drafted this year, approximately 20 of them will be Czech players. The most highly rated Czech player is Vaclav Nedorost followed closely by Jan Bohac. But there are many more talented players who were not observed in such detail by scouts but who still can make it to the NHL. By the CSB ranking on 66th and 73rd position there are 2 Czech defenders who together play in the junior team of Sparta Praha. Their abilities show they are the best defending pair in Sparta and therefore are high in the draft.

Jan Hanzlik

His play during the whole year earned him an invitation to the U18 year Championship in Switzerland. The team did not have an exceptional performance. The team did not work as a team which nowadays is the most common reason for non-success. Hanzlik, however, was 2nd among defensemen in the plus/minus statistics.

His size is not ideal for defense in the NHL but he possesses excellent puck technique, ability to read the game as well as a good hockey sense. This year he was strong support for his team (junior team of Sparta Praha) and for the national team as well. And he is really happy with his performance now. He is not in a hurry to go to the NHL even though he does want to go there one day. He is not prepared to leave the security of home for the insecurity of North America.

He is a playmaker and his qualities filter out when he plays in a pair with a huge defenseman. They can perfectly eke out one another. This year in Sparta he played in tandem with David Koci (#73) who played a strong physical game. As Koci fought by the board for the puck, Hanzlik then was the one who started the offensive attack. Hanzlik is now improving more physical defending and the accuracy of shooting. His whole potential is hidden in amazingly smart play with a great deal of prudence. He dominates solid pass with unusually clever positioning. He contributes offensively while also plying precise defense. In Sparta he achieved consistency in playing.

David Koci

His height and weight indicates his robust figure. He likes a hard game with many physical contacts. And this style of game is the one that best fits him. He would like to play in the NHL but he is a realist and understands that it will not be easy. Anyway he wants to have the experience of a junior league in North America and he wants to play there next season.

He is exceptional for his hard work. He spends much more time in training than the others. This results from the fact that he values his chances. In the past 2 years he has made an enormous efficiency-jump and now trains with Sparta Praha A team. As well as his improved performance his trust in himself has improved.

His technique is not his strong side but his team mate Hanzlik is helping him to achieve this quality. He possesses above-average skating ability for his height and he can use this together with his hard shot to create offensive opportunities. But his shot lacks accuracy. He is considered to be a defensive defenseman with a strong will. Last year he made decision to work his way to the junior team of Sparta and this year he trains with the A team. He is always in the right place at the right time and takes care of his team mates who get into fights. Koci does not shy from the physical play, although he won’t put opposing players ‘through the boards’. He himself has nothing against fights as long as they are not brutal. He resents intentional fouls. His achievement was appraised by invitation to the training camp of the national under-20 team. As his performance just gets better and better he wants to get as much as possible from this improvement. In his free time he sleeps.