Sunday, June 26, 2011

10 Czechs drafted

Perhaps it's a positive trend in the development of Czech hockey players. For the past decade, the number of Czechs drafted has steadily decreased, from 31 in 2001 to only five in 2010. However, this past weekend in Minnesota, 10 Czech players were drafted by NHL teams, the highest number since 2005. After having no domestic players picked last year for the first time since the fall of the Iron Curtain, three were picked this year, which was last accomplished in 2007.

David Musil was taken 31st overall by Edmonton. Photo: Bruce
Bennett, Getty Images.
Although there were none taken in the first round, the Edmonton Oilers led off round two by choosing David Musil, a native son of sorts. Musil was born in Edmonton while his father, František, was playing in the NHL. "I remember, a little bit, growing up there when my dad played there," he said after being drafted. "I've got a lot of good memories from there."

After his family returned to the Czech Republic, Musil played youth hockey in Jihlava, but has spent the past two seasons playing for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. On his chances of cracking the Oilers lineup this season, Musil said, "I'm getting ready this summer and I'm going to try my best to be in the NHL as soon as possible." Although the Oilers are a young team and not the deepest in talent, Musil will more than likely return for another season in Vancouver.

Dmitrij Jaškin was taken 41st overall by St. Louis.
Photo: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images.
Ten picks later, the St. Louis Blues selected Dmitrij Jaškin of Slavia Praha. There's almost no question where Jaškin will play next season. Last season, he was second in voting for the Extraliga's rookie-of-the-year award, but he is still not a dominant player in the league, and therefore not likely to crack an NHL lineup for the upcoming season.

The lone Czech taken in the third round was goaltender David Honzík of the Victoriaville Tigres, by the Vancouver Canucks. Honzík, who hails from Karlovy Vary, was ranked below Matěj Machovský on the list of North American goaltenders, but he was the only Czech goalie taken in this year's draft.

The other seven draftees were taken between picks 144 and 177. Dominik Uher was taken late in the fifth round by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and then six Czechs were taken in the sixth. In addition to Uher, the Penguins also picked Lukáš Sedlák of České Budějovice. Sedlak was a standout in the Junior Extraliga, as was Daniel Přibyl of Sparta Praha, who was taken by the Montreal Canadiens. Both players are expected to play full-time in the professional Extraliga in 2011-12.

Three teams went off the board and picked un-ranked Czech players. Detroit picked Richard Nedomlel and Tampa Bay took Ondřej Palát, who both play in the CHL. The most interesting pick may have been by the Philadelphia Flyers when they chose Petr Plaček, who plays high-school hockey in Connecticut. Plaček was born in Rakovník and grew up in the Kladno system, but has played the past two seasons in the US. He is committed to Harvard University for next season.

Below are the 10 Czechs who were taken in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft:

 31. David Musil      D    Edmonton      Vancouver (WHL)
 41. Dmitrij Jaškin   RW   St. Louis     Slavia Praha
 71. David Honzík     G    Vancouver     Victoriaville (QMJHL)
144. Dominik Uher     C    Pittsburgh    Spokane (WHL)
158. Lukáš Sedlák     C    Pittsburgh    České Budějovice
165. Matěj Stránský   RW   Dallas        Saskatoon (WHL)
168. Daniel Přibyl    C    Montreal      Sparta Praha
175. Richard Nedomlel D    Detroit       Swift Current (WHL)
176. Petr Plaček      RW   Philadelphia  Hotchkiss Sch.(HIGH-CT)
177. Ondřej Palát     LW   Tampa Bay     Drummondville (QMJHL)

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