2007 prospects: Q&A with Michal Repik

By Matt MacInnis

Two years ago Michal Repik left his home country, the Czech Republic, for North America to pursue his dream of becoming a National Hockey League player.  Just 16 years old at the time, the 5’11, 185 lbs native of Vlasim had little to no reservations about leaving for a country whose language he could not speak and for a team of strangers. 

During his two years with the Giants, Repik has proven himself a quality prospect.  During his rookie WHL season in 2005-06, Repik scored 24 goals and added 28 assists in 69 games.  This year, in just 56 games, he virtually matched his statistics from the previous season with 24 goals and 31 helpers.  Most of the time he missed was as a result of being selected to represent the Czech Republic in the World Junior Hockey Championships in Sweden.  Repik was held scoreless in six games at the tournament.  Central Scouting has ranked Repik 58th among North American-based skaters for the NHL Entry Draft, but with his impressive playoff performance (where he led the Giants in scoring with 26 points) and his extremely strong play during the Memorial Cup, nobody should be surprised if Repik is selected in the early second round – and perhaps even in the latter stages of round one.

Repik is a physical winger who plays tough in high traffic areas and loves to hit.  When his team has possession in the offensive zone he invariably ends up in front of the net wreaking havoc.  He has very good hand-eye coordination and does a good job redirecting the puck.  Repik is an intelligent player who has a very good understanding of spacing both on the rush and in the offensive zone.  He drives relentlessly to the net and seemingly without fear.  He skates well and is confident while carrying the puck.  Overall Repik is an extremely efficient player who produces something positive most shifts.  He does not appear to have any significant or glaring weaknesses, although his overall skill set probably limits his upside to second-line at best, although with his speed, physical game and ability to cycle the puck, he also has the tools to become a solid third-line player at the NHL level if he’s unable to further develop his offensive game at higher levels.

Before speaking with Hockey’s Future, Repik fielded a few questions from the general media about the importance of the Memorial Cup tournament for his draft position and whether coming to play in North America was the best decision he’d made to date in his hockey career, responding:

MR: Uh, a little bit in the back of my head.  I think maybe it’s helped me, this tournament.  There’s lots of scouts here, but like I said, I’m focusing on this team and winning my first Memorial Cup and I’ll go from there.

MR: Probably.  If you want to play NHL it’s probably best thing you can do is coming to the WHL.  It is the best league here and close to NHL style is the same.  It’s great for me.

HF: Did you decide before the Import Draft that you wanted to come specifically to Vancouver or did you just want to play in the CHL and Vancouver happened to select you?
MR: I heard before the draft that Vancouver wanted me from my agent.  But, it was good that they picked me.  Before I didn’t know how the great city is here and how good the organization is.

HF: Earlier you spoke about how your line stepped it up in tonight’s game.  Why do you think you work so well with Milan Lucic (BOS) and Wacey Rabbit (BOS)?
MR: I think we cycle the puck well.  We support each other and we, I don’t know, we play together, we know where the other guy’s staying.  It’s just playing together.

HF: When people think of the stereotypical European player they typically envision a softer, flashier type of player.  Why are you so different?
MR: I don’t know.  I try to play my style, my game.  I think it’s helping me I’m playing harder than last year, finishing checks harder and that’s probably the biggest difference.

HF: During the game you spend a lot of your time in front of the net, screening the goalie and looking for deflections.  Do you spend a lot of time in practice working on your hand-eye coordination and knocking pucks out of the air?
MR: Well, I think if you want to score goals here you need go to front of net.  I think this coach taught me this last year and it’s helped me a lot.

HF: Describe the process that took place before you originally came to Vancouver. 
MR: How I say I like, I want to play NHL and I think this is great for me if I play here.  Lots of scouts can see me and I think it’s helped me.  I think I play now  the Canadian style.

HF: I noticed you embraced Michal Neuvirth (WSH) briefly during the handshakes.  How well did you know him back at home in the Czech Republic?
MR: Yeah, we played together in Sparta, in Sparta Prague.  And we play national team together and I know him, I talk to him before this tournament and it’s great that I score on him tonight! (laughing)

HF: What was the biggest adjustment in your lifestyle when you moved to Canada?
MR: Probably the language.  Language was hard, I was not speaking very good.  It was hard, different people, much different foods and everything was different.

HF: So what is your favorite North American food?
MR: I think steak or seafood probably.

HF: Other than your family, what do you miss most from home?
MR: Probably my friends to be honest.  I can’t see them for past nine months and I’m excited to go back home and hopefully celebrate Memorial Cup and be with them.

HF: Have you heard from agents or the team about what NHL teams are saying about you for the upcoming NHL draft?
MR: I don’t hear much from my agent.  They don’t know that much about that.  I read sometimes the news or I hear from our GM here or something.  I don’t worry about it that much.

HF: Who is your favorite NHL team?
MR: Vancouver and Rangers probably.

HF: Who is your favorite player?
MR: Jagr.

HF: That’s an obvious one isn’t it?
MR: Yeah!

HF: Is there any player you try to model yourself after?
MR: I don’t think so.  I want to play my style mostly.  I look what big guys do in NHL, I watch their game, but I want to play my hockey.

HF: Is there any one thing in particular you are most trying to improve in your game?
MR: I want to be better probably defensively.   And be quicker probably.

HF: Outside of the rink, what do you do for fun?
MR: Usually we go into the city.  The city is beautiful here.  Go to Robson Street, going to shopping club and I go see the ocean and Whistler and stuff.  And it’s nice here.

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