Future Considerations’ European scout Miro Simurka gives his thoughts on who from the 2016 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
There were plenty who impressed in the regions of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
But few stood out in the way Ondrej Najman.
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound forward had a solid draft year, but definitely raised his game to the next level nearing the end of the season. His last few regular season games saw incredible progression, and he performed very well in the playoffs against Sparta Praha. He was also the top scorer for the Czech Republic at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
Najman is a smart, two-way center who is responsible in his own end and can play in all situations on the ice. His playmaking ability and vision of the ice is just as impressive. He sees the ice perfectly with and without the puck, he creates chances on shift-by-shift basis with his accurate and smart tape-to-tape passes or with his great positioning without the puck.
Najman’s speed is not tremendous, but his skating is good enough to be successful at the next level.
Whether or not Martin Krempasky has the tools to play at the next level remains to be seen.
Krempasky, who played for the Slovakian Under-18 National Development team, has some good skills to be a successful player and he can be a useful defenseman when he plays a simple game
But he just could not put it together, and definitely buried any likelihood to be drafted. Krempasky’s decision making was very poor, and he had problems closing the gaps in the neutral zone. He gets caught out of the position often, and he does not avoid huge mistakes or horrible passes that lead directly to the goals against his team.
The upside on fellow defenseman Vojtech Zelenak grew throughout the season.
Coming out of average performance at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, there was little to no indicate he could be selected at the draft.
But Zelenak developed this year as much as anybody else playing in Slovakia or Czech Republic.
His game improved drastically in all three zones. He was calm, moved the puck pretty well, he was great in the defensive zone and had many scoring chances. He switches fast from offense to defense, and he is one step in front of his opponent when the puck is turned over in the offensive zone and he has to go back.
Zelenak is a big defenseman and he can use every inch of his body to his advantage, he works great with his long stick and the best part of his game is his physical game and ability to step up in the right moment and make a game changing hit. He has to improve his positioning in the defensive zone.
At the end of the season he got a lot of attention from the NHL scouts, and definitely raised his chance to get selected.
By Miro Simurka