One of the best defensive forwards in his class, with decent puck skills and goal-scoring abilities. Hard worker with second-line upside if he can work on his lack of pace.
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December 2023 – The recently turned 19 year-old is playing in his first full season of professional hockey in North America, after a handful of seasons at various levels of hockey in his native Slovakia. After a bit of a slow start, the feisty winger has started to produce, posting 11 points in 20 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. Sykora is a hard-working player with a great attitude. He is an absolute pest to play against, and is now looking very comfortable in his surroundings. Number 38 is very popular among his teammates and has contributed very well to a Hartford team that is vastly improved over the past year or so after having a tough go since the 2015-2016 season. Former head coach Kris Knoblauch, now behind the bench with the Edmonton Oilers, and new interim coach Steve Smith have certainly benefitted from the influx of talent in recent months, and Sykora certainly fits that bill. Brendan Ferry
March 2023 Sykora’s team in the Slovakian league, HK Nitra, was recently eliminated, allowing the feisty winger to get a jump start on his AHL career. Sykora will be reporting to the Wolf Pack in the coming days, after a successful campaign overseas, where he posted 21 points in 38 games played, including eight goals and 13 assists. He will wear number 29 with Hartford. Brendan Ferry
July 2022 – Sýkora was drafted 63rd overall by the New York Rangers as the young player goes to an organization where he can easily reach his floor (a bottom six energy winger) or his ceiling (top six winger). Pat Quinn
June 2022 – Sýkora was a consistent riser this year as he caught the eye of most scouts watching HK Nitra play for his teammate, Simon Nemec. Sýkora is one of the youngest players in the 2022 draft class with a September 2004 birthday, and not only produced decently at the pro level in Slovakia with 12 goals and 22 points in 65 regular season and playoff games but had a very clear and projectable identity.
The winger is among the draft’s most consistent and intense forecheckers, applying pressure and closing passing lanes with an active stick. He is also one of the better defensive forwards available due to a combination of excellent scanning habits, awareness, and willingness to help his team in its own end. While he is at his best off the puck, he possesses a good shot which he needs some space to really fire off, and his intense style of play leads to some dirty goals around the crease. He is not a high-end playmaker, but he does drive the net hard off the puck to create space for his teammates which frees them up to make creative plays. Sýkora will likely make the NHL someday, as his identity is a solid one, but he will need to work on his two-step acceleration to really enhance his current style of play and facilitate the transition to North American ice. His ceiling could resemble something in the mold of Artturi Lehkonen; a player who lacks the finishing ability and offensive instincts to produce at a high rate, but who drives excellent offensive and defensive results when on the ice and who brings consistency and intensity to the table. Sebastian High
May 2022 – Sýkora played the season on a very strong Slovak team in HK Nitra, spending most of his season on the pro squad and earning 10 goals and 17 points in 46 matches, while adding five points in 19 playoff games. He played in the shadow of fellow draft-eligible Simon Nemec, but put up respectable numbers in a pro league while being one of the youngest draft-eligibles in his class as an early September 2004 birthday. He also represented Slovakia at the Men’s Worlds, scoring two goals and adding an assist in six games.
Sýkora is among the best defensive forwards in his draft class. He understands defensive positioning very well, directs opponents into unfavorable areas, and approaches them at angles that maximize the odds of him escaping contact with the puck. He forechecks hard, backchecks diligently, and makes himself troublesome for his opponents on loose pucks and broken plays. On top of that, the winger has decent hands, a surprisingly good shot from medium range and some playmaking tools that are foundationally sound but need refining. He can find seams and exploit them, but doesn’t create them as often and tends to go for safe passes rather than take risks. The main concern with Sýkora is his lack of pace, especially with the puck, but some fine-tuning to his skating mechanics as well as the inevitable physical growth ahead of him should iron that out. He mans the boards well with his puck-protection mechanics already, and that should only become more of a strength as he matures physically.
Sýkora could well be a second-line penalty-killing specialist when all is said and done, and has a fallback game as a bottom-six checking forward that makes him a safe pick-up in the late-first to early-second round. Hadi Kalakeche