By DraftPro Staff

The IIHF World U18 Hockey Championships just wrapped up last week in Espoo and Vantaa Finland, and was a scouting hotspot as a last big event for NHL staffs who are charged with evaluating the next wave of NHL talent.

There were some bright spots for the upcoming 2024 NHL draft that stood out and some future draft eligibles that really grabbed the spotlight. In this ten-part series we will look at each team entry and provide some review of prospects, how they performed and how their performance might have affected their draft stock. We will start with the last place team, Kazakhstan, and work our way through to the gold medal winning Canadian squad.

The plucky Slovak squad put up a good fight getting all the way to the bronze medal game before finally loosing to a solid Swedish team.

Here are some player reports from our Joseph Stanislau on the Slovakian U18 players that stood out.

22 Adam Nemec, F, 6’0, 159 lb, 18.10.2007 (HK Nitra U20)

The younger brother to New Jersey Devils defenseman, Simon Nemec, is a forward who plays a different style of hockey where he is a very good forechecker who plays a high energy game, and has a lot of drive similar to his brother. Adam had 2 goals in 7 games and he needs to bulk up a lot to around 185 lb because the way he attacks offensively, and defensively throwing his body around he will certainly be a great mid line winger with really good puck handling, shooting, and phenomenal passing. Adding that muscle variable will make him a really dangerous player to go up against. Nemec is a high volume shooter who does get a lot of pucks on net yielding high danger scoring opportunities and has the ability to become a really consistent forward as he grows. He is an exciting skater and has really good wheels and has really good agility on the breakaways.

18 Miroslav Satan (Jr.) C, 6’7, 190 lb, 02.03.2006 (Team Slovakia U18, Slovakia 2)

We know what you’re all thinking but yes this indeed is the son of former NHL’er Miroslav Satan. He has shown in the faceoff circle against lesser developed and skilled centers that he can beat them in the faceoff dot. However versus Finland, USA, and Sweden Satan needs to improve against those super skilled, really strong leveraging centers. That is room for Miroslav to grow in the muscle mass department, and with that size and reach he does forecheck really well, and zips really fast around the boards looking to poke the puck loose. He is a disciplined player who doesn’t go into the box often. He does throw the body around and is a high volume shooter, he just has to get more of those on the net. From the skillset this center can improve in the faceoff circle with the right developmental, and skills coaches. Miroslav can also look to be a natural winger where he has a lot of speed and can playmake but should focus more on powering his way and getting more versatility in more roles as he gets primed up for a future in the NHL.

27 Adam Belusko, D, 12.04.2006, 5’11, 187 lb (HC Kosice U20, Slovakia U20)

The Slovak defenseman plays a really strong defensive game having nearly 2 shots blocked in his 5 games in the U18 Tournament, and getting 1 hit per game. He does a really good job of getting shots on net out of several opportunities he gets. Adam is a smaller sasquatch of a defenseman who even pinned one of Sweden’s skaters on the boards behind his goalies net. Belusko takes no prisoners and has very active feet, and an active hockey stick keeping his defensive positioning to limit any possible errors with an opponent he has from trying to evade. His ability to skate is rather good and is very smooth in skating backwards to keep an eye on his opponents. He plays as if he were a really big 6’3” but it truly is his heart of a competitor.

1 Martin Haronik, GK, 26.07.2006, 6’5, 205 lb (HC Modre Kridla Slovan, Slovakia 2)

Haronik has a really big size and takes up a lot of net coverage. When he goes into the butterfly during very fast passing by his opponents he tends to be out of position enough in a small window. He made an original right pad save on the original shot and the rebound had 2 Latvians blitzing the 1 Slovak defender. Martin had no time to get a few inches over to his low left pad side to make that save. He did everything he could to keep his team in the game making 35/39 saves. Easily 3 of those were on the defense and that was due in part because 2 of the 3 screened Haronik. 1 of which Haronik could have had but wasn’t in position to put the glove out in time. He was dealing with moving fast enough to make those saves but his defense did less to help him save more high danger chances. His positioning was slightly off in this game. His composure, and athleticism was there, but needs to work a bit more on tracking the puck with traffic on top of rebound control. Haronik has all the tools he needs; he just needs to get a bit more seasoning because he could develop into a starting goaltender if he gets it all together, especially with a truly sound defense that can fetch pucks and clear the zone out so he doesn’t have to do all the lifting.

17 Ondrej Maruna, C, 29.06.2006, 6’4”, 201 lb (Charlottetown Islanders, QMJHL)

Maruna is a really unique player who knows how to forecheck, skate really well, and sees the play developing perfectly. He knows what to do and makes small aspects in a game like getting takeaways in an opponent’s zone and taking the opportunity to shoot the puck on net. The Slovak center did just that versus Czechia and was able to rifle one home on a wrist shot far away from mid danger behind the faceoff circle. His speed, agility, and tenacity along with him having a nose for the net is gonna be key as he grows older into an NHL player he will be enjoyable to coach. His ability to go after pucks and go to the dirty areas and making the opportunities for him and his team to potentially win games. He plays a similar utility and playmaker, goal scorer role similar to Ondrej Palat, and Yegor Sharangovich. It wouldn’t be a surprise as he progresses that he starts to become a goal scorer the next level of hockey he will progress into

Photos courtesy IIHF.com

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