Czech Extraliga Prospect Report

By Jes Golbez

Tracking the exploits of
selected prospects plying their trade in the Czech Extraliga.

We will monitor prospects already drafted by NHL teams, as well as 2002 and
2003 draft eligible prospects who have made their way onto Extraliga rosters.
The Czech Extraliga is one of the top European league
in terms of level of play and overall competitiveness. Although the Extraliga
lacks the physical play of the NHL, it takes a high level of skill to get
into the Extraliga and then succeed on top of that. As we monitor these
prospects, keep in mind that many of these prospects are kids playing among
men, gaining valuable game experience and developing the tools to
possibly succeed in the NHL.

Future updates will have a game-by-game summary of each players exploits from
the previous update. Feel free to request players to be added, or ask questions
about the prospects being monitored.

HC VSETIN Player: Jiri Hudler Position: C Born: 4/1/1984 Shoots: L Height: 5'10" Weight: 165 lbs Drafted: 2002 Eligible If Jiri wasn't so small and lightweight, he would be a heavy favorite to go No. 1 overall in 2002. Talented and brilliant in the offensive zone, the diminutive Hudler has hung around the Top 10 in Czech Extraliga scoring all season, pacing himself at about a point a game. Not many veterans can keep such a pace, and not many prospects in any country could maintain such a record. With the experience gained with Vsetin and Havirov last season, Hudler is already a veteran in his own right. Beyond his small stature, there are questions about his ability to handle the physical play in the offensive zone. He sustained a serious neck injury last season, and in the last few games, Jiri hasn't produced well and the media speculate that he is bothered again by his neck. That being said, Hudler is already a great prospect to watch, and which ever GM is willing to take a chance on Hudler will already get an offensively- matured forward who could easily be the offensive king of his class. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- VSETIN 29 7 15 26 +1 44 (2nd div.)Olomouc 1 0 2 2 4 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Ondrej Nemec Position: D Born: 18/04/1984 Shoots: R Height: 6'1" Weight: 194 Drafted: 2002 Eligible The other young prize of the Vsetin organization, Nemec is a right-shooting defenseman who has put up big numbers in the junior ranks. With the departures of veterans out of Vsetin, Nemec earned himself a full-time position with Vsetin. A solid player at both ends, Nemec will become a solid 2-way defenseman once his offense kicks in at the pro ranks. A likely 1st or 2nd round pick in 2002. Ranked #2 for Czech Prospects behind Hudler. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- VSETIN 24 1 1 2 +2 32 (junior) VSETIN 7 4 6 10 20 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Martin Strbak Position: D Born: 15/1/1975 Shoots: L Height: 6'3" Weight: 210 Drafted: 224th overall (9th Round) in 1993 by LA Always a defensive-minded defenseman, Strbak has already surpassed his career high of 9 points (in 99/00) as he has taken on a major offensive role. A good shooter, Strbak has played very well at recent World Championships with Slovakia, and would be a good candidate to join the LA Kings if he was a bit tougher in his own end. With his newly found offense, a good Olympic showing would go a long way into enticing LA to finally bring him over. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- VSETIN 29 8 9 17 -4 44 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Petr Kubos Position: D Born: 10/09/1979 Shoots: R Height: 6'3" Weight: 200 Drafted: 197th overall (8th round) in 1997 by Montreal TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- VSETIN 28 4 3 7 -4 12 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC SPARTA PRAHA Player: Peter Havelka Position: Forward Born: 04/03/1979 Shoots: L Height: 6'2" Weight: 198 Drafted: 152nd overall (6th round) in 1997 by Pittsburgh TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- SPARTA PRAHA 18 1 2 3 +1 6 (1st div.)Usti nad Labem 2 0 0 0 2 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC VITKOVICE Player: Zbynek Irgl Position: RW Born: 29/11/1980 Shoots: R Height: 5'11" Weight: 175 Drafted: 197th overall (6th round) in 2000 by Nashville. A winger with a hard shot and good speed, life has been tough for the mullet-haired Irgl ever since he was drafted. In addition to being an Alternate Captain for the Gold-Medal winning Czechs, Irgl had a solid 12 points with Vitkovice. Unfortunately, he had just 1 point (an assist) in 37 games, and when a rumoured transfer to Trinec didn't materialize, he found himself playing with 1st division Opava where he recorded 5 points in 9 games. This season, after an injury kept him from playing for the first month, Irgl has come back and put a few points on the board. However, he is caught behind many talented forwards on a deep Vitkovice team. He won't get much development playing on the 4th line, and would be better off somewhere else. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- VITKOVICE 19 1 3 4 0 4 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Rostislav Olesz Position: Forward Born: 10/10/1985 Shoots: L Height: 6'1" Weight: 190 Drafted: 2003 eligible If Hudler was enough to make you drool, check out the next big thing in Czech hockey. After playing 3 games last year with Vitkovice(as a 15 year old!), Olesz recently celebrated his 16th birthday with his first Extraliga goal. Olesz has amazingly managed to get himself 1st and 2nd line ice-time on a very strong Vitkovice team, although he has spent a majority of the year with the junior team. What Olesz has that Hudler doesn't is size. Olesz is 6'1" and still has 3 years left of growing to do. With his physical stature and offensive genius, Olesz is a name you will be hearing a lot before 2003. Recently demoted back to juniors and has 3 assists in 2 games. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- (Extraliga) VITKOVICE 8 1 2 3 0 0 (Junior) VITKOVICE 20 8 11 19 59 (Midget) VITKOVICE 2 2 0 2 0 ------------------------------------------------------------- < u> HC SLAVIA PRAHA Player: Roman Malek Position: G Born: 25/09/1977 Shoots: L Height: 5'10" Weight: 160 Drafted: 158th overall (5th round) in 2001 by Philadelphia. Very small and very dynamic, Malek has established quite a reputation for making highlight-reel saves, including a glove-save off of a Otakar Janecky shot that won Malek the Zlata Helma (Golden Helmet) for the best highlight of the 2000-01 season. This season, Malek had another great start until his helmet was knocked off and he was unfortunately hit in the face with a puck near the end of a game. However, he has come back and is again stoning the opposition left and right. Malek will have to improve his overall fundamentals, but his reflexes and ability to make the first save are already quite good. TEAM GP G.AA SV% MIN ------------------------------------------------------------- SLAVIA 13 2.26 .931 795 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Viktor Hubl Position: LW/RW Born: 13/08/1978 Shoots: L Height: 6'0" Weight: 180 Drafted: 284th overall (9th round) in 2001 by Washington. Viktor is an 2-way forward who has slowly been earning more and more ice time with Slavia. Viktor has the skating, passing, and work ethic to make him an intriguing 3rd-line type prospect, and has had some national team exposure over the past months. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- SLAVIA 25 4 7 11 +4 18 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Radek Matejovsky Position: Forward Born: 17/11/1979 Shoots: R Height: 6'2" Weight: 195 Drafted: 250th overall (9th round) in 1998 by NY Islanders. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- SLAVIA 17 2 0 2 -2 20 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Marek Tomica Position: LW Born: 1/1/1981 Shoots: L Height: 6'0" Weight: 178 Drafted: 285th overall (9th round) in 2001 by Dallas A role player with good skating ability, Tomica does not have a lot of offensive potential, although his passing is accurate and timely. He could be brought over in a few years, but will need a lot of development. Has played strictly 3rd and 4th line for Slavia this season. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- SLAVIA 27 2 1 3 -2 8 (junior) SLAVIA 1 1 0 1 0 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Zbynek Novak Position: LW Born: 23/07/1983 Shoots: L Height: 6'3" Weight: 209 Drafted: 191st overall (6th round) in 2001 by Washington. Another defensive-minded forward from Slavia, Novak takes pride in his defense duties and excelled at last year's Under-18 WJC. Zbynek has a big slap shot and good skating ability. He has put up numbers in the junior ranks this year and filled a depth role when called up the the pro team. Good 2-way potential and the work ethic to succeed. Recently demoted back to juniors, where he had 1 assist in 1 game. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- SLAVIA 18 0 1 1 -1 2 (junior) SLAVIA 14 8 18 20 8 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC IJB POJISTOVNA PARDUBICE Player: Petr Sykora Position: RW Born: 21/12/1978 Shoots: R Height: 6'1" Weight: 167 Drafted: 76th overall (3rd round) in 1997 by Detroit. The dynamic scoring winger, now owned by Nashville, led the Czech Extraliga last season with 26 goals in 47 games, and it was rumoured that he would be on his way to the NHL at last. However, that was not the case, and Sykora is back with Pardubice, a strong candidate to win the league title. An injury-plagued season to date, Sykora has established a similar scoring pace to match last season, but will have to work on his defense and add some weight if he wants to succeed in the NHL, or even just make it. He is happy playing with his brother Michal, and is an intriguing offensive prospect to monitor. Has missed numerous games with a virus and continues to watch from the sidelines. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- PARDUBICE 14 7 4 11 +3 30 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC CONTINENTAL ZLIN Player: Miroslav Blatak Position: D Born: 25/05/1982 Shoots: L Height: 5'11 1/2" Weight: 170 Drafted: 129th overall (4th round) in 2001 by Detroit. A small 2-way defenseman, Blatak is a skilled passer who will be very limited by his small stature and lack of muscle. Miro often plays a 'bigger' game than his size would indicate, but it might not stand up to the rigours of the NHL. He will need a few years of development before he can be considered NHL calibre. His passing and skating ability make him an intriguing prospect to watch. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- ZLIN 21 3 4 7 +8 12 (junior) ZLIN 3 0 0 0 8 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Petr Cajanek Position: C Born: 18/08/1975 Shoots: L Height: 5'11" Weight: 176 Drafted: 253rd overall (8th round) in 2001 by St. Louis. The little man with a big heart, Cajanek combines the best of Czech skill with Canadian heart. Cajanek refused a 2-way contract with the Blues and went back to Zlin for another season, and finds himself 2nd in league scoring behind teammate Petr Leska. A hard-working 2-way forward, Cajanek has a never-say-die attitude, and combines with that with great passing skills, making him possibly the best 2-way threat in the Extraliga now that Jiri Dopita has gone to Philadelphia. Cajanek has gotten himself into fights in past seasons, but has seemingly calmed down just a little as he's on pace for the lowest PIM total in his career. If the Blues can bring Cajanek over next season, they could possibly have a mega steal on their hands, and a possible line mate for Pavol Demitra and Keith Tkachuk. All Cajanek has to do is put on 8-10 pounds of muscle. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- ZLIN 27 16 21 37 +16 16 SWEDEN CUP - CZECH REP. 4 1 1 2 4 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Marek Posmyk Position: D Born: 15/09/1978 Shoots: R Height: 6'5" Weight: 228 Drafted: 36th overall (2nd round) in 1996 by Toronto. Similar to countrymen Frantisek Kucera and Michal Sykora, Posmyk is a big and skilled defenseman who had trouble adjusting to the speed and physical nature of the NHL. Posmyk has the same blend of size and skills that make scouts drool, but like Kucera and Sykora, Posmyk often plays a soft game, which doesn't si t well with his coaches. After being fed up with his lack of chances to make the NHL Lightning, Posmyk returned to the Czech Republic, and after a rough start, has started to settle in as a productive member of Zlin. His offense has certainly come to life, as he is tied for 2nd in defenseman goal-scoring, but his defense and physical play are the areas he will need to work on, and he would have probably been better off in this regard back in North America. His size and skill will ensure he will get another NHL shot. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- ZLIN 28 7 5 12 +3 53 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Ivan Rachunek Position: Forward Born: 06/07/1981 Shoots: L Height: 5'8" Weight: 169 Drafted: 187th overall (7th round) in 1999 by Tampa Bay Extremely small but rather fiesty, Rachunek is a long-shot prospect to make the NHL due to his small stature and lack of offensive output. Ranked 3rd in the Extraliga in PIM's. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- ZLIN 29 5 9 14 +1 82 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Radovan Somik Position: LW Born: 05/05/1977 Shoots: R Height: 6'2" Weight: 195 Drafted: 100th overall (4th round) in 1995 by Philadelphia After a solid rookie campaign in the Czech League last season, Somik was a surprise addition to the Slovak squad at the 2001 World Championships. Somik has followed up last year's breakout effort with an improved performance this season. Somik gives Zlin a solid 2nd-line threat to play behind Cajanek and Leska. A candidate for the Slovak Olympic squad and constantly improving. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- ZLIN 25 6 11 17 +10 8 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Libor Pivko Position: Forward Born: 29/03/1980 Shoots: L Height: 6'5" Weight: 198 Drafted: 89th overall (3rd round) in 2000 by Nashville. Tall and lanky, Pivko has had a breakout season with the offensive-gifted Jaroslav Balastik, including a hat-trick against his old team, Havirov Panthers. He's got the size and skill level, but needs about 20 pounds of muscle if he wants to make the NHL. He will be monitored closely by Nashville's scouts. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- ZLIN 25 8 13 21 +9 20 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC OCELARI TRINEC Player: Ladislav Vlcek Position: LW Born: 26/09/1981 Shoots: R Height: 6'0" Weight: 187 Drafted: Drafted 192nd overall (6th round) in 2000 by Dallas. Recently traded from Kladno for Mario Cartelli, Vlcek is a hard-working winger with a good work ethic. Unfortunately, Vlcek doesn't seem to have a great deal of offensively potential. Has had a good start with Trinec thus far, playing on a scoring line with offensive star Richard Kral, and slick winger Marek Zadina. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- KLADNO 20 3 1 4 -9 14 TRINEC 6 1 3 4 +1 2 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Jan Bohac Position: Forward Born: 03/02/1982 Shoots: L Height: 6'3" Weight: 198 Drafted: Drafted 87th overall (3rd round) in 2000 by Ottawa It's been a tough year for Vlcek, as he's had a rough year at both ends of the rink after being dealt, along with Zdenek Skorepa, for Viktor Ujcik. Plays with a lot of fellow youngsters in Trinec, so he will be handled with some patience. After our first report, Bohac was demoted to Liberec of the 1st division to get some more ice time and get more confidence in his game. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- TRINEC 16 0 1 1 -5 4 (1st div) Liberec 1 0 1 1 +1 0 (junior) TRINEC 2 0 1 1 0 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC KERAMIKA PLZEN Player: Radek Duda Position: RW Born: 28/01/1979 Shoots: L Height: 6'0" Weight: 191 Drafted: 192nd overall (7th round) in 1998 by Calgary. Duda, an average sized winger who starred in the WHL, found himself on a new team this season, and his offense has yet to blossom in the pro ranks. Radek's lack of footspeed seems to big his achilles heel. Plays an extremely aggressive game, but will his offense materialize? Ranked 2nd in the Extraliga in PIM's TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- PLZEN 25 6 4 10 -5 90 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Josef Straka Position: Forward Born: 11/02/1978 Shoots: R Height: 5'11" Weight: 189 Drafted: 122nd overall (5th round) in 1996 by Calgary. Another Calgary pick playing with Plzen, Straka is a smallish winger who has had a breakout season, matching his offensive production of last season, only in half as many games. Keep an eye on this sniper. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- ZLIN 29 13 17 30 +12 18 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Jakub Koreis Position: C/L Born: 26/06/1984 Shoots: L Height: 6'2" Weight: 198 Drafted: 2002 Eligible. Draft Eligible prospect who has been overmatched at the pro level, but has excelled in the junior ranks. Ranked 3rd by CSB for Czech prospects behind Nemec and Hudler, Koreis is a solid offensive prospect who will get a few more tastes of the Extraliga next season, but is being counted on to be a leader in the junior ranks. Will be watched closely. Recently demoted to juniors where he has 2 assists in 2 games. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- PLZEN 9 0 0 0 -3 2 (junior) PLZEN 18 10 12 22 28 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC CESKE BUDEJOVICE Player: Jiri Novotny Position: C Born: 12/08/1983 Shoots: R Height: 6'2" Weight: 180 Drafted: 22nd overall (1st round) in 2001 by Buffalo. Hard working center with somewhat limited skills, Novotny has found himself with a full-time depth role with Budejovice, after playing 19 games last season. Scored his first goal during his first game of the season, a game winning goal with less than 30 seconds to go in the game. A similar situation to Vaclav Nedorost last season, Novotny will be counted on for big things at the 2002 WJC. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- BUDEJOVICE 22 3 4 6 -7 2 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Milan Michalek Position: Forward Born: 07/12/1984 Shoots: L Height: 6'1" Weight: 210 Drafted: 2003 Eligible. Like Olesz of Vitkovice, Michalek is a 2003 draftee that has found himself playing in the Extraliga. Has played rather well for a 16 year old, especially considering the lack of goaltending and defense on Budejovice. Also played 5 games last season, recording 0 Points and 0 PIMs. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- BUDEJOVICE 24 1 2 3 -6 2 (junior) BUDEJOVICE 5 3 2 5 4 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Michal Vondrka Position: LW Born: 17/05/1982 Shoots: R Height: 6'0" Weight: 180 Drafted: 155th overall (5th round) in 2001 by Buffalo Buffalo selected Novotny's teammate, a smallish 2-way forward who likes to shoot. Scored 1 goal last year in 8 games, but has not yet found the net in the big leagues this season. Long-shot prospect, but the Sabres will get a good look at him while they watch their prized Novotny plug away. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- BUDEJOVICE 22 0 1 1 -4 2 (junior) BUDEJOVICE 8 2 4 6 2 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC VAGNERPLAST KLADNO Player: Tomas Plekanec Position: C Born: 31/10/1982 Shoots: L Height: 5'10" Weight: 190 Drafted: 71st overall (3rd round) in 2001 by Montreal. Tomas Plekanec, a dynamic and spunky center, is a very intriguing prospect and a personal favorite of mine. Last year's Extraliga Rookie of the Year had a fairly good start, but has struggled along with his team (last place Kladno has just 2 regulation wins this season). A change of coaches has only reduced his icetime, and perhaps they need to find themselves a real coach, and some real talent. No team has scored less than Kladno, and Plekanec's offensive totals have suffered due to the lack of talent around him. Positives: Upbeat attitude, slick stick-handling, expert vision, passing, and offensive creativity. A captain of the National team efforts in the past, he is a possible captain candidate for the Czechs at the upcoming U-20 WJC. Plekanec has scored some highlight reel goals, and won a Zlata Helma (Golden Helmet) one week last year for a blessed effort as he deked around Libor Prochazka (former Olympian) for an astonishing goal. Negatives: Despite his love of dishing out some hits, Pleky's lack of size has been noticeable, and he can be pushed off of the puck somewhat easily. He will shy away from traffic in front of the net. His defense could also use some work, but Plekanec would benefit from a more defined role. Despite his lack of size, Plekanec is an offensive dynamo who is very exciting to watch. If Plekanec can dedicate himself to adding some weight, and getting more comfortable in traffic, he can become a big steal for the Canadiens. Has already posted better totals than many prospects, including Novotny. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- KLADNO 29 4 7 11 -7 26 ------------------------------------------------------------- Player: Mario Cartelli Position: D Born: 16/11/1979 Shoots: R Height: 6'0" Weight: 195 Drafted: 262nd overall (9th Round) in 2001 by Atlanta. Cartelli, a revelation last season, is a smallish offensive defenseman whose efforts earned him National Team roster status last season and early this season. After being drafted in the 9th round by Atlanta, his game has gone steadily downhill, with just 1 point in 20 games with Trinec this season, after 27 points in 46 games last year. Trinec's new coach Antonin Stavjana, and Mario Cartelli, could just never seem to get along. In addition, his play with the national team has been equally awful. After a brief demotion to 1st division Prostejov, Cartelli was traded to HC Vagnerplast Kladno for Dallas prospect Ladislav Vlcek. Hopefully, the change in scenery can re-kindle his offense. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- TRINEC 20 0 1 1 -8 12 KLADNO 5 0 2 2 +1 8 (1st div.)Prostejov 3 0 2 2 2 ------------------------------------------------------------- HC BECHEROVA KARLOVY VARY Player: Peter Puncochar Position: D Born: 08/06/1983 Shoots: R Height: 6'1" Weight: 202 Drafted: 186th overall (6th round) in 2001 by Chicago. Ranked #99 by THN going into the 2001 draft, Puncochar amazingly dropped all the way to 186th overall, and the Hawks are certainly rubbing their hands with glee, especially after his performance at the U-18 WJC. One of the best 1983-born defensemen in the world, Puncochar has a perfect blend of 2-way skills. He's proficient on the Power Play, an effective breakout passer, and loves to dish out big hits. He seems to have no weaknesses, and plays effectively in all aspects of the game. His lack of size (Can 6'1" be considered small?) was perhaps the only reason he dropped at all, but it hasn't been an issue against the pros. He currently leads a very poor Karlovy Vary team in +/- with a +6 rating, and will be counted on for a leading performance at the upcoming U-20 WJC. With the lack of quality defensive prospects in the Hawks organization (apart from Steve McCarthy), Puncochar has a golden opportunity to prove himself to be a steal for the Hawks down the road. TEAM GP G A PTS +/- PIM ------------------------------------------------------------- KARLOVY VARY 19 0 2 2 +6 30 (junior) KARLOVY VARY 3 0 0 0 2 -------------------------------------------------------------