This NHL Draft shows a very strong set of skaters not only from Europe but primarily the country of Slovakia. I had some insight into a few players but there was more than a handful I needed insight from was done by Mato Deraj. Mato is a Slovak ice hockey journalist @DennikSport who I have known for 2 NHL Drafts and he’s also part of McKeens Hockey. His Twitter @MatoDeraj and you can find him online at sport.aktuality.sk
Meet Our Slovak Scout
I am citing Mato’s notes he sent me and I’m going to do my best to interpret it for you the reader(s).
W Juraj Slafkovsky
Big and strong hulking forward not a typical power forward, but uses his body well; likes to have the puck on the stick, is more of a playmaker; could improve his shot, struggles with scoring at the men’s level. Rant Anne is a good comparable, should go Top 5-10.
Interpretation of Juraj Slafkovsky his floor is Pavel Zacha and his ceiling is Mikko Rantanen. For a team to draft Juraj they need to encourage him and get him to be more of a shooter and not rely so heavily on his power forward game. He’s definitely gonna be a far more effective winger than Kaapo Kakko in my eyes at the NHL level teams will really be high on. Slafkovsky really is a dangler and he moves very well for a skater his size.
RHD Simon Nemec
A two-way defenseman, more offensively minded; extremely smart, plays a mature game, great passer; there is room for improvement in his shot and physical game. Comparable to Roman Josi or Adam Fox, Top 5-10.
My view on Nemec is that he could be a very exciting player to watch who plays with a lot of speed, and high energy and his transition game and the ability to chip in offensively will make a lot of NHL teams realize he is on the right path for success at the NHL level.
C Servac Petrovsky
Two-way responsible center, solid both defensively and offensively; fantastic shot, haven’t seen such a Slovak shooter at his age in a long time; a bit smallish, but solid physically. 3rd-4th round.
The takeaway I see from Mato’s notes is that being a "smallish" player might actually benefit from a player who can be well-rounded physically or someone playing bigger than their size. Any team that really needs a two-way center that can shoot really well beyond his age group is great to have and should be able to convert to playing on the wing if an NHL team has too many centers but a great luxury to have I think could be 2nd-4th round.
C/RW Filip Mesar
Energetic forward, probably the best skater of the top 3 Slovaks, with a high hockey IQ; solid passer and shooter; physique is his weakness, doesn’t play physical and is undersized, but has improved recently. Top 20
I have to agree with the description on Mesar as a forward due to the tempo of play, and being a really good passer and shooter and any team bullish on him well wait on him for a few seasons will allow him to bulk up and fill in that hockey frame he has. This is most certainly a nice diamond in the rough pick similar to Dawson Mercer"s value in the Top 20 if Mato is proven correct.
W Adam Zlnka
Offensively skilled, very good shooter and plays smart; good skater; a bit smallish and not physical; 6-7th round.
C Patrik Gabriel
Playmaking center, creative with the puck; smallish and not physical, the defensive game can be improved; don’t think he should be drafted in my opinion.
After reading about Patrik Gabriel from Mato’s report Patrik would be a nice low-risk undrafted signing that could start in the AHL and get him accustomed to North American ice before a parent club brings him up. This goes from something Devils radio announcer Chico Resch once said on The Let’s Go Devils Podcast "if the speed of the American League (AHL) is 20 miles an hour. The NHL is 40 (mph) you don’t have time to relax and everything is boom boom boom." "When you come up you have to create something offensively. If you are just playing a safe game there are 10 other guys that can play a safe game."
W Alex Sotek
Offensively skilled, a very good shooter and plays smart; a good skater; a bit smallish and not physical; the 6th – 7th round.
Anyone who follows closely on the NHL Draft teams like the New Jersey Devils has made a living on European skaters in the late rounds like a Jesper Bratt the Devils have hit on in late rounds. If a team takes up on Sotek they might end up with a diamond in the rough in their prospect pipeline like Alex Sotek.
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