Martin Necas is hoping a strong showing at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship will help his stock in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Necas, 23rd in Future Considerations’ Fall ranking for the 2017 draft, will enter the World Juniors as one of the most-watched prospects during the under-20 tournament.
“The chance to get drafted, it means too much, it’s the next step for me in my career,” Necas said through a team translator after the Czechs’ 5-0 loss to Canada in pre-tournament action Wednesday in Ottawa.
The World Juniors will add to an impressive resume for Necas.
Already playing pro hockey for HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Republic, the 6-foot, 175-pound forward leads all under-19 scorers in Extraliga. His 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 29 games put him well ahead of older World Junior teammates like Kristian Reichel and Petr Kodytek.
Among the 19 under-18 players in the Czech league, Necas is the only with more than three points. He has already played at a higher points-per-game pace than David Kase, a 20-year-old selected in the fifth round in 2015 by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Czech teammate Filip Chlapik, who was selected in the second round, No. 48, by the Ottawa Senators in the same year, is helping guide Necas through the tournament with some strong advice.
“Just enjoy it…it’s his draft year. Don’t think about it,” said Chlapik, who signed his entry-level contract with the Senators on Wednesday. “He’s a really good player he doesn’t have to worry about the draft or how to play.
“Just be himself. If he’s going to be himself the right team will pick him.”
Necas has had no problem letting his play speak for itself.
He led his U18 HC Kometa Brno team to their junior title last year. Along the way, he posted 30 points in 18 regular season games, and added 15 more in the playoffs before being selected 10th overall in the 2016 KHL Draft by Traktor Chelyabinsk.
As a 15-year-old playing in the Czech Republic’s top under-16 league in 2014-15, Necas posted a team-record 91 points in 34 games. In doing so, he led the league in scoring.
Now the youngest skater on the Czech contingent for the World Juniors, Necas hopes to add to an impressive international resume. He led the Czechs in scoring at the World Under-17 Challenge in 2015 and 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, where he picked up six points in four games as the team’s captain.
His World Junior experience started Wednesday in the exhibition loss to Canada.
Centering the third line, he created one of the Czech’s best opportunities of the game, forcing a turnover in the offensive zone before being denied on his backhand by goaltender Connor Ingram, a Tampa Bay Lightning third rounder.
“It’s difficult to play with the top teams, and obviously we didn’t score,” Necas said. “But Canada is a top team and I’ll be better in the tournament.”
Chlapik sees plenty of upside in his 17-year-old teammate.
“Necas is still really young, I’d never seen him play before we joined this team and it was the first time I’d really seen him and he’s so good,” he said.
“He’s really, really talented. He can be an excellent forward for us.”