Adam Gold

Canes "Czech" all boxes in round one

Posted June 23
Updated June 26

For the first time in the last four years the Carolina Hurricanes did NOT select a defenseman with their first pick in the draft. Not that anyone is complaining when the return is likely a trio of strong NHL blueliners, most notably the 2015 product, Noah Hanifin. The Boston College product capped his second pro season with a very strong performance in the World Championship emerging as one of, if not the, best defensive defensemen on the United States team.

This year, however, the Hurricanes' needs were up front. You never want to box yourself in, but Carolina needed to add a feisty, competitive, speedy, skilled, center who played both ends of the ice, even knowing the player was unlikely to arrive in the NHL for at least another year.

With the 12th overall selection, General Manager Ron Francis selected Martin Necas, a center from the Czech Republic. He plays for Brno Kometa in the Czech Extraliga. Necas registered just seven goals and 15 points while playing 41 regular season games, but scored four times in 10 post season games as Kometa claimed their 12th title in franchise history, but the first since 1966.

He was one of the best players on the Czech team at the World Junior Hockey Championships this year, scoring once and figuring in on three of the team’s 12 total goals before being sent home by Canada in the quarterfinals. He will turn 19 in January, and will more than likely play at least another year for Brno.

Here’s the scouting report on the 6’1”, 168 lb center from Nove Mesto na Morave, CZE.

“Fast, skilled, dynamic forward with great offensive upside. He needs to add some size and strength, but he is not shy about playing a physical game and competing for pucks in the hard areas. He carries the puck with skill and confidence and is not shy about attacking defending players with speed. He needs a lot of developmental time and could be several years away.” — Dobberprospects.com (March 2017)

“A strong, offensive-minded center, with explosive, darting speed who wins races to loose pucks regularly. Dangerous when in possession of the puck and screaming down the wing with speed, can both make a play towards an open teammate or just drive the puck towards the net himself. He’s creative, sees the ice well and has good strength on the puck although he needs to improve his body overall. Strong work ethic and does many little things right to contribute. Has some room to grow, physically.” — Futureconsiderations.ca (November 2016)

“Shows all the skills you want in a top six center. Although still slight, he creates havoc with his quick release when playing near the crease. He plays with a high energy level with his feet moving at all times. His skating ability may be the most impressive aspect to his game as, beyond his good top speed, his initial steps have an explosiveness that tends to put him in pole position for puck races. Plays a responsible, two-way game, backchecking diligently and doing what he can to pressure the opposing puck carrier. Might be two or three years away, but should rise to a prominent spot in the forward rotation.” — McKeen’s NHL Draft Guide

“All the skill to be a very dynamic center in the mold of Claude Giroux.” — TSN analyst Craig Button. Button also added on NBC Sports Network’s NHL Draft coverage that he “has a man crush on Necas!”

For what it’s worth, Giroux has scored 180 goals and totaled 575 points in 656 games for the Flyers in a 10-year (and counting) NHL career.

Speed? Check.

Skill? Check.

Competes? Check.

Physical? Check.

Defensively responsible? Check.

Center? Not that it is the most important thing, but, check.

All he needs, it would seem, is time, added strength, and the patience of a fan base that is growing restless. There is still a ton of work to do, but it sounds as though Necas might be well worth the wait.

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