Prospect Ramblings: Projecting Team Czech Republic for the WJC

by Jokke Nevalainen on December 4, 2018

 

Camp rosters for the World Juniors are starting to get released now. I’ve done my projections for Team Finland, Team Sweden and Team Russia over the past eight days. When doing those, I was flying a bit blind because camp rosters were not released at that time. This time, I know which players are invited to the final training camp, and I can make my team projections based on that. Nice!

 

The biggest shocker on the camp roster for the Czechs was seeing Filip Chytil‘s name there. Chytil has been a full-time NHL player this season with the Rangers, and I don’t see any reason they would loan him to the tournament. It would be amazing for the Czechs if they did but I just don’t see it happening.

 

I requested @CZprospects to go over my projected lineup, and I got some great feedback from there, so big thanks for that! It always helps when you get some wise words from a local prospect expert, especially since some of the projected players in depth roles are very much unknowns to most people.

 

OK, I’ve rambled enough now. Let’s get to the projected lineup.

 

Forwards

 

First line: Filip ZadinaMartin NecasMartin Kaut

 

This entire line is coming from the AHL, and if they are loaned by their NHL clubs, this might be the best line in the entire tournament. All three are also returning players from last year, and unless I remember things incorrectly, they played together as the top line already a year ago. Necas and Zadina are high-end prospects who should probably play in the NHL already. Kaut is not quite as good but he was drafted 16th overall for a reason. He’s a very good prospect, and a great fit on this line. This line is droolworthy.

 

Second line: Jakub LaukoMatej PekarOstap Safin

 

All three are drafted prospects, and they could form a nice line that can provide secondary scoring behind their top guys. The Bruins drafted Lauko in the third round last summer, and he’s having a strong season in the QMJHL. He’s also a returning player from last year. The Sabres drafted Pekar in the fourth round last summer, and he’s having a strong season in the OHL. And finally, the Oilers drafted Safin in the fourth round in 2017. His season in the ‘Q’ hasn’t been as strong as expected but he’s a returning player with huge six-foot-five frame. His combination of size and skill can make a difference in a hockey game.

 

Third line: Ondrej Machala – Jáchym Kondelík – Karel Plasek

 

The most interesting prospect on this line is Kondelík who was drafted in the fourth round last summer by the Predators. He’s a massive six-foot-six center who’s having a strong rookie season at NCAA, scoring 13 points in 15 games so far. He may not have a lot of offensive upside but he could have a future in the NHL. Plasek is also an interesting prospect who could get some consideration as an overager in the 2019 draft.

 

Fourth line: Jan Hladonik – Krystof Hrabik – Jan Jenik

 

Jenik is the only truly interesting prospect on this fourth line. The Coyotes drafted him in the third round last summer. He’s a strong defensive player with some offensive talent. He can play all three forward positions, and he’s capable of moving up the lineup if injuries occur. Hrabik is a returning player from last year.

 

13th forward: Michal Teplý

 

Teplý wasn’t actually on the official camp roster but I believe that’s only because he’s going to play at the World Junior A Challenge until December 16th. I think he joins the camp after that. Teplý is the only first-time draft eligible at forward, and there’s a lot to like. His skating and defensive game may not be so strong but he has a great six-foot-two frame which allows him to play a power game. He also has a great release, and his ability to find open spots on the ice is a big reason why he’s able to use his strong shot so often. He’s also known as a clutch scorer, so if they need a goal late in the game, he’s one of those guys I would want on the ice. He will likely slip to the second round in the 2019 draft but if he can improve his skating, someone could get a steal at that point.

 

Defensemen

 

First pair: Jakub GalvasFilip Král

 

Galvas is my choice to be the number one defenseman for the Czechs, and even though he’s not really a natural power play quarterback, I think he’ll get a chance to play on the top unit – a top unit that could be deadly based on who they have up front. Remember what happened to Libor Hájek‘s value in fantasy hockey leagues after he played on that top unit a year ago? Galvas’ situation reminds me so much of that. I recommend adding him before the tournament and selling him after it. The Blackhawks drafted him in the fifth round in 2017 after he played most of that season at the top level in Czech Republic. Since then, he’s continued playing at that level and adding some offense to his game. The Maple Leafs drafted Král in the fifth round last summer. He’s playing in the WHL, and could get some power play time in the tournament as well. They are both returning players from last year, and they should play huge minutes for the Czechs.

 

Second pair: Radim Salda – Libor Zábranský

 

Tampa Bay drafted Salda in the seventh round last summer, and he could challenge Král for that power play role. Salda is playing in the ‘Q’ and having a good season there. He’s another returning player from last year. Zábranský is playing in the WHL but he went undrafted last summer, and there’s not much to get excited about.

 

Third pair: David Kvasnicka – Hugo Has

 

Hugo Has (or Martin Hugo Has as some places have him) is the only first-time draft-eligible on ‘D’. He plays in Finland, so I’ve had a chance to watch him live a few times this season. He’s a big body (6-4, 187) with right-handed shot and some offensive abilities. I haven’t been overly impressed by his play in the Finnish junior league but his play with the national team has looked a bit better, so it’s interesting to see how he plays at the World Juniors. He’s likely to be a second-rounder next summer.

 

Seventh defenseman: Daniel Bukac

 

The Bruins drafted Bukac in the seventh round in 2017. He plays in the OHL and offers a huge six-foot-five frame and a right-handed shot but doesn’t do much offensively.

 

Goaltenders

 

Jakub Skarek – Jiri Patera – Lukas Dostal

 

The Czechs are bringing three drafted prospect goalies to their camp. Skarek has been playing pro hockey in the Finnish Liiga this season, and he’s been very impressive – arguably one of the best goalies in the league so far. He should be the number one goalie for the Czechs. He had a bad performance a year ago but he should be better prepared this time around. The second spot is likely to go to Patera, although I wouldn’t be shocked if Dostal got it either. The Golden Knights drafted Patera in the sixth round in 2017, and he’s a year older than Dostal who was drafted in the third round last summer by the Ducks.

 

Full lineup

 

Filip ZadinaMartin NecasMartin Kaut

Jakub LaukoMatej PekarOstap Safin

Ondrej Machala – Jáchym Kondelík – Karel Plasek

Jan Hladonik – Krystof Hrabik – Jan Jenik

Michal Teplý

 

Jakub GalvasFilip Král

Radim Salda – Libor Zábranský

David Kvasnicka – Hugo Has

Daniel Bukac

 

*

 

And that’s all for now, thanks for reading. Feel free to add comments below. Remember to follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.

 

Main picture courtesy of NHL.com