By DraftPro Staff

The U18 World Hockey Championships just wrapped up last week in Frisco, Texas, and was a scouting hotspot in a year that was anything but the norm for NHL staffs who are charged with evaluating the next wave of NHL talent.

It is a ‘must see’ event any season holding considerable weight as a last look event, but this year in particular, it might be the only hockey some of these guys would play under the watchful eyes of NHL teams. And it was an opportunity for the players to make an impression with plenty doing just that over the two-week event.

Draft Prospects Hockey was not able to be in attendance for the event due to pandemic/logistic issues but had scheduled multiple evaluators to view each minute of play and give us a breakdown of what transpired via their video viewing.

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.

Czech Republic had a tough tournament and found themselves eliminated in the quarterfinal by Canada. The final of that game was a blow out and kind of summarized their tournament. Even scoring 3 goals against Canada wasn’t enough as they just could not get a save or make the defensive plays they needed.

Defensively everything was getting to the middle and they had very little push back. On top of that they were undisciplined taking way too many penalties. The loss of David Jiricek on the back end proved massive as they really missed his presence. And other top players failed to play up to the bar set by past play including potential first rounder in 2021, two-way defender Stanislav Svozil.

Here are some player reports from our crew on the Czech U18 players that stood out.

1 G, TOMAS SUCHANEK, 6’1, 170, L, DOB 04.30.2003

Had an up, and mostly down tournament for the Czechs. Showed solid focus and reflexes though could have been more aggressive. A hybrid goalie with quick feet and good athleticism assisting him in his butterfly. Movements are light and it shows in his crease play. Swims around in his crease to find loose pucks. Seems a bit narrow in his stance with his arms set closely to his body as if he is constricted. Great reflexes to pop his shoulders up to stop shots labelled for the top corners, did this multiple times, and liked his ability to fight off those shots. Rebound control was solid. Efficient use of his stick to direct pucks away into the corners. As well as showed good control of shots into his breadbasket and eliminating rebounds. Not sure if he showed enough to interest NHL teams at his size but we might think of him as a later round option.

5 D, DAVID JIRICEK, 6’3, 187, R, DOB 11.28.2003

He was all over the ice, making himself a factor at both ends of the ice using his size in both areas. Solidly built and still growing. Outmuscling his man off the puck along the perimeter. Excellent job gaining inside body positioning. Has a long reach that gets his stick in the way of shots, deflecting them away. That long reach is effectively used to protect the puck beautifully as he pinches down the wall. Incredibly strong offensive instincts accompanied by his aggressive nature of play. When he pinches down the wall, he is always looking to make a play and direct puck towards the net or look for a teammate in a high-percentage area. Has a booming one timer. Accurate outlet passes. Did a much better job keeping his passes a tad softer than in previous viewings. Plays with a ton of intensity, battling hard for every puck. Amazing work ethic. Smart, safe playing the puck in the final two minutes protecting the lead. Tamed himself back from playing out of position. He has great two-way upside with his mobility and size paired together. Has the potential to become a top pairing defenseman as he can do it all and play in all-situations. Unfortunately he fell to an injury and missed the second half of the tournament for the Czechs.

14 D, STANISLAV SVOZIL, 6’1, 172, L, DOB 01.17.2003

An offensive left shot defender with sound mobility for his size. He started on the second pair and played top 4 minutes all tournament. Strong when he was moving his feet and carrying the puck in off the line looking to create offensively. Love his IQ with the puck as he does not just pinch for no reason, he is looking to create a scoring chance. He will use his hands to stick handle into traffic and isn’t afraid to pull up and shoot. His best trait is his puck moving ability, reading the play and finding his teammates. That extends to his own end as well where he has a beautiful first pass. A beautiful skater with an excellent stride both forwards and backwards. He pivots with ease and his lateral movements make him rangy. At times he can think too offensive and skate himself into trouble when he doesn’t need too. He is a defender that can run a pairing as he dictates play and wants the puck on his stick. His skating helps him on the penalty kill where he can jump the lane and intercept passes. He also runs the power play unit where I think he is an excellent QB from the top of the umbrella. He knows when to move it and when to shoot the puck. Walks the line until a lane opens up and gets his shots on net. Defensively he has a high motor but doesn’t rush himself and force things. Didn’t have a great tournament, showed panic when he lost his man defensively and his game can unraveled from there. But as he gets back in the play with his feet he often is able to reel it in. He could also stand to use his body a bit more to protect the puck or make stronger contact. He could be a few years away but should pan out as a second pair defender at the next level, a mobile puck moving defender with an offensive IQ.

4 D, JIRI TICHACEK, 5’9, 170, L, DOB 01.30.2003

Tichacek is a small left shot defender that plays his heart out every shift. He was on the top unit and trusted to eat big minutes against the top lines. He is a fiery player that can chip in offensively. He will lead the rush or join at the end of the play but knows what to do when he gets there as well. He shows some touch around the net putting a few shots on net off the rush. Love the timing of his rushes as he isn’t up in the play every shift but only when he senses a real chance. He has a quick release and can get pucks on net under pressure whether its off the rush or on the line as he is able to walk it with his footwork. He has fast feet and generates a ton of speed and power through his lower body. Obviously, his size is not a strength, but he makes up for it in heart. He wants to make a difference every shift he is out there. He was on the second power play unit where he sets it right in the wheelhouse for his teammates to try and one-time the puck. He also did a great job on the penalty kill using his speed to get in the way and interrupt play. Defensively he isn’t afraid to throw his body around but does get outpower in front often. With the puck he is effective evading pressure. He projects as a bottom pairing defender that can play every role and kill penalties while adding a bit of offense. He will just need to get stronger to compete against NHL competition.

22 D, JAKUB SEDIVY, 6’1, 189, L, DOB 05.10.2003

Sedivy is a long lanky left shot defender that brings an admirable two-way game. He wore the ‘C’ and played on the top pair with Tichacek forming solid chemistry. A strong skater with a long lanky stride and some decent foot speed but choppy first steps. He can be a bit out of control and really just needs to play a calmer game to be a more effective player. He jumps into the rush at times but not often. In this event really focused on shutting down the opposing teams top players. He was on his opponent and wouldn’t let up. Steps up to stop the opposing breakout in the neutral zone and at the line. Defends with a tight gap and uses his size efficiently to assert physical dominance. The thing we love most about his game is his compete level and motor on a shift to shift basis. He can move the puck and shows some consistent playmaking ability. He also has a sneaky heavy shot but he doesn’t shoot enough. We would love to see him attack the open ice more with the puck. He was a main stay on the penalty kill where he is literally willing to dive headfirst in front of pucks for his team. He projects as a bottom pair defender and reminds a bit of a Martin Marincin. He could be a few years away and more of a project as he will need to learn to move the puck at pro hockey speed.

6 D, MATEJ PINKAS, 6’2, 190, L, DOB 11.15.2003

Pinkas was a defensive stalwart for the Czechs. Has a solid frame and uses his size to step up physically and turnover pucks. Strong upper body strength that separates the man from the puck with ease. Nothing gets by him. Gapping up quickly in many areas. At his blueline, through the neutral zone, and below his goal line and in the corners. He isn’t the cleanest skater, but the timing of his gaps was solid and masked some of the skating deficiencies. Very much looks like a one trick pony that is a defensive defenseman at heart. The game that he plays is slowly being faced out of in the NHL so he will have to provide another element to his game in the future if he hopes to be drafted in 2022. A possible bottom pairing/depth shutdown defenseman.

16 D, DAVID MORAVEC, 6’0, 183, L, DOB 09.18.2003

Moravec just misses the draft cutoff date by three days making him eligible for the 2022 draft. Hard to describe his game, tries to play a two-way game but is better with the puck than without it. His skating needs working on. Adding more flexion in his hips will provide better acceleration and strong edgework. We classify his skating as average, but he will rush the puck occasionally and when he hits top gear it is at least decent. Great short-range passer. First passes to start the breakout were feathery and accurate. Passing execution is the best part of his game. Likes to pinch down from the line to get involved in the Ozone. Good job of keeping pucks in at the line. Defending the transition he is aggressive looking to stop the carriers route before they enter the zone and force a dump in. In his zone he is a bit of a bystander at times playing passive defensively. Has average size. Moravec shows glimpses of promising play but then can get lost in the shuffle. If he improves his first step and skating, I could see a big step taken from his offensive play as a defenseman that can generate chances off the rush.

15 RW/LW, JAKUB KOS, 6’3, 187, L, DOB 05.30.2003

Kos had the most ice time amongst the Czech forwards to no surprise. An instrumental piece to the team, versatile forward playing in all-situations. He’s a big man that can skate. It may not look the smoothest, but he can produce strong top speed. Mobile, glides around and can coast in his edges, benefiting the way he plays which is staying heavily involved around the puck. Smart. Picks his routes well and has a solid understanding on where to be to receive a pass. Makes quick one-touch passes. Has nice vision from the boards to facilitate pucks to an open man. High compete level to win puck battles. He is the type of winger that does a lot of the dirty work and muck and grinding in the corners winning back possession. Good hand-eye tipping at pucks or knocking passes down. A drawback is his skill level appears to be average and the offensive output will have to come from hard work. Strong two-way player that is committed on the backcheck and assisting his defenders below the circles. Covered his point man extremely well, blocking a couple of shots and getting out quickly to limit their time and space. Through his compete level and hockey IQ, he could very well make a career out of being a bottom six two-way winger that plays on the PK and in a checking role. Likely a mid-to-late rounder.

9 LW, MARTIN RYSAVY, 6’2, 203, LW, DOB 06.06.2003

Rysavy is a big left winger with some wicked soft hands and scoring touch. The thing that stands out right away is his shooting ability. Right from the jump he put some heavy snap shots on net and he can shoot it off both feet. He started on the second line left wing and was effective creating offense. Love his battle level showing how he can fight off traffic in front before finishing under pressure. Excellent shot with a heavy release. He was on the second power play unit on the one timer side where he was throwing heavy shots on net. Confident with the puck. He can control things with his size down low and protects the puck well. He did seem quiet on some shifts as his motor dips at times. But other times he was engaged and throwing hits and looked like a serious power forward potential. Martin has potential as a middle six winger that can play with your top lines because of his skill set. He could be just two years away as he has the size and skill, just needs to work on his skating. He isn’t the best skater and his edgework could be stronger to improve his ability to escape through checks.

27 C, GABRIEL SZTURC, 5’10, 176, L, DOB 09.24.2003

Szturc isn’t the type of player that has standout skills that blow you away but instead captures your attention through his hardnose play and shift-to-shift compete level. Brings the energy chasing down players in his own end and while on the forecheck. Strong coming down on the puck. Utilizes sharp edges and hard stops to maintain a cycle. Solid control behind the net to outwork and outskate the defender and then making a power move to the middle to get a shot on net. An excellent penalty killer for the Czechs. Pressuring the breakout getting stick-on-stick to provide disruption and showing good hand-eye to score in tight. Strong, quick first step to close gaps quickly. Solid footspeed. Smart defensively creating turnovers in the neutral zone and in his own end. Hunts for the puck, great awareness, and anticipation. No complaints on his two-way ability but will need to see more creativity offensively if he is to be a higher pick in 2022.

13 RW, LUKAS PAJER, 5’11, 187, R, DOB 07.04.2003

Pajer is a fast skating forward that likes to carry the puck in transition and be the one that enters the zone. Great acceleration with the puck. Skates with a wider base but getting full use out of his quick strides and recovering smoothly. Carries so much momentum to the point he can coast around the ice with ease. Effectively using his speed to hustle and chase down the puck and finishes his checks. Committed on the backcheck. Great work ethic applying stick pressure and is no pushover as he will out battle you for the puck. Solid puck movement along the boards using his skating to move freely with the puck and create his own passing lanes. Edges are good enough to be used in sharp turns and stop ups whilst controlling the puck. Moves into the bumper spot and get set for a one-timer on the PP. He has a bit of play driving ability which benefits his NHL chances. Has had a strong showing in the tournament and rose our rankings as a late round option.

11 C, JAKUB BRABENEC, 6’2, 176, L, DOB 09.11.2003

Brabenec played a reliable three-zone game. Sent out for important defensive zone faceoffs. Making safe decisions with the puck steering away from riskier plays. Has good size though still has room to fill out. Did a solid job of engaging his body, tying up bodies along the wall and letting a teammate come in and retrieve the puck. Covered for his defense. A strong skater with excellent stride recovery and knee bend. Good straight-line speed. Showed some elusiveness with the puck darting through and into the offensive zone, using quick cuts to evade defenseman and in one case drawing a penalty. Positioned on the half wall on the PP, strong vision and passing across the zone lanes for chances. At points had playmakers tunnel vision passing up shooting opportunities in prime real estate for a pass. When he did shoot it was strong, but lacked accuracy. His offensive skillset looked average as his handles were just okay. Liked the reliable game he brought though.

Szturc, Brabenec and Moravec tied for the scoring lead with four points apiece in five games.

Contributors to this report included Dan Stewart, Matt Morrison, Alex Taxman, Kai Farenholtz and Jared Brown.
Photo credit IIHF.com

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