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Czech List, European Edition: Prospects Preparing For World Juniors

By on November 25, 2013 in European with 0 Comments

By Radoslav Vavřina, Czech Correspondent for All Habs Hockey Magazine

LIBEREC, CZE — The season is slowly inching towards its highlights – both the Under-20 World Junior Championships in Malmö, Sweden, and the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are a matter of near future. While the Olympics are the pinnacle for many, the European part of the Czech List will be focusing on events leading to the pinnacle of junior hockey season.

czechlist1bThe Czech Under-20 team had one of its final pre-championships tournaments in early November, travelling to Russia, to a place called Novogorsk, which is just outside of Moscow. Many players from the team are expected to play in Malmö, including starting goaltender Daniel Dolejš, versatile defenseman Jan Štencel and a couple of first-round draft prospects Jakub Vrána and David Pastrňák, names that deserve their mentioning in every Czech List.

Ondřej Kaše

Ondřej Kaše

Among those is another draft prospect, born in late 1995, Ondřej Kaše. The native of Kadaň, a town not far from Chomutov, is the top prospect based in the Czech Republic and also a full-time Extraliga player, first since Tomáš Hertl got drafted in 2012. Playing on the fourth line and thus being limited to about six minutes of ice-time per game, Kaše is teamed up with David Kämpf who has been his long-time linemate in juniors and in Novogorsk, too.

Kaše is a flashy forward that loves being on the puck and being able to do something with it. While some forwards sometimes wait for the play to develop, he is always moving and if he’s not chasing down the puck carrier, he’s awaiting a pass and trying to find the best position. The defensive play might be his number one weakness.

You can read a full report on him up soon at hockeysfuture.com

Sixteen year-old phenom Pavel Zacha was also supposed to take part in the Novogorsk event, but failed to make the flight due to illness. His story is quite different as he is a different kind of a player and if somebody will win the Stanley Cup, you should bet on him. The similarity to Kaše is his current position, but Zacha is younger by about 15 months and he will also be ranked higher for his draft as renown agent Allan Walsh noted on his Twitter account saying “Pavel Zacha is considered by many the top ranked player from Europe eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft. #Wonderkid .”

Vítek Vaněček

Vítek Vaněček

We’ll get back to Zacha as other prospects, led by defenseman Filip Pyrochta and forward Pavel Jenyš, who showcased their skills at the World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Just like last year, the Czechs weren’t successful, but their netminders might have generated some interest, especially Karel Vejmelka who was supposed to be the backup of Vítek Vaněček, who was spectacular at the Ivan Hlinka, but the two eventually split time in Yarmouth.

With two goals allowed per game and a save percentage of 92.5, Vejmelka was a surprise even though he’s leading 2014 draft prospects of the Czech Under-20 Extraliga in most goalie stats. It did look like Vaněček was the only competitor for a draft spot of all Czech goaltenders, but now he’s got a challenger. Thankfully, there’s no limit so they can both be drafted. However, if they do, don’t expect their names to be heard earlier than in the sixth or seventh round.

That’s it for now and yes, it’s been a little shorter Czech List than usually. We’ll come back in two weeks with another look into North-American competitions and then around Christmas time it will be time to take a look at who will go to the Under-20 WJC in Malmö. Hopefully, the rosters will be announced by then.

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