2019 NHL Draft - Slovak players
All sports are evolving through time and the whole concept of the game is changing. NHL and hockey whatsoever is no exception. We can see the shift from the emphasis on physicality and toughness into speed and technical finesse. In my opinion due to this NHL teams can take in their game rosters much younger players as before. And these players have no small roles in their teams, some of them are right away key players - for example Kotkaniemi in MTL (18 years old), Dahlin in BUF (19 years old) or Svechnikov in CAR (19 years old).
Also the development of the young players has a huge impact on their careers. Some try to gain game experience in mens leagues in Europe while others are playing in lower North American leagues to get used to the American style of hockey. I think this is individual who can benefit more from which approach, as every young player should focus on their strengths in the game but also challenge the weaknesses.
So I think we heard a lot (and due to the appearance on the IIHF WHC we also saw a lot) about Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, but here I would like to take a look at the Slovak players in draft this year, which are not so often mentioned in the draft predictions and talks about draft. I think a real chance to be drafted is here only for two players (really sad about this, considered how many Slovaks were in the NHL in the late 90s/early 2000s).
1# Maxim Cajkovic
Born: 3.1.2001, Bratislava
Weight: 85 kg
According to the draft predictions and rankings Maxim should be picked as the first Slovak in this years draft. According to the NHL Central Scouting he dropped from the midterm #59th to the current #91st place among north American skaters. In other rankings he ranked as #67th (FutureConsiderations) and 47th (EliteProspects).
His last season can be considered as successful, he joined the rebuilding Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL where he scored 22 goals and added 24 assists, which led to 46 points in total. He has most goals and points in the team.
The best part of Maxim's game is his skating and shooting goals ability. The tremendous acceleration and high top speed makes it really difficult for the opponents defenders to play against him. Besides this he has a really quick release and a nice wrist shot, which makes him a possible sniper. He isn't afraid to stand in front of the net from where he is successful in scoring on rebounds or deflections. There were also glimpses of great offensive creativity and high hockey IQ but I think everyone expected a bit more in this department. I think if he will be drafted he will need development in lower leagues for a year of two until he is NHL ready.
Highlights from last season:
2# Samuel Hlavaj
Born: 29.5.2001, Martin
Weight: 88 kg
Samo was ranked as #5th among North American goalies in the NHL Central Scouting ranking.
Last season Samo joined the Lincoln Stars in the USHL, where he started in 22 games and recorded a .862 save percentage and 4.58 goal against average. But the highlight of the season was the performance in the WJC-U20, especially in the game against the US team, where he was the best player on the Slovak side with his 32 saves performance.
He is considered as a hard working and calm type of goalie, but if drafted he will need to continue in the hard work to secure a spot in the NHL roster in the future.
Other notable players:
Born: 2.12.2000, Liptovsky Mikulas
No final ranking, but he was #116th in the mid year NHL Central Scouting ranking among European skaters
Born: 4.10.2000, Trencin
No final ranking, but he was #118th in the mid year NHL Central Scouting ranking among European skaters
So now you have something to talk about while drinking beer after your beer league game, hope you enjoyed the article and see you next time
Refuse to lose