Every year for the past five years I’ve covered the international side of the sport, one thing has ultimately rang true about the Czech Republic’s blueline regardless of whether it’s World Juniors or World Championships:
The Czech Blueline is kinda...shallow, to put it diplomatically.
It’s not entirely their fault; most of their NHL caliber defensemen are usually already deep into regular season play in North America or in the Stanley Cup finals by the time they head to international play, and there have been some fun names that have represented the Czechs over the years, but for the most part it seems as though they simply haven’t been able to match the kind of offenses that have made it to the IIHF tourneys on the backend. They’ve been waiting for someone to take the reigns and become not just a blocking-transitioning god, but also a blueline threat. They’ve been waiting for yet another truly legendary talent to appear from their systems to re-define Czech hockey’s glaring weakness.
In short, they’ve been waiting for Stanislav Svozil.
Stanislav Svozil is a special young player, having been in the Czech Extraliga since he was 16, the youngest ever to play in that league, being almost PPG at the U17 level, and a standout talent in their systems. Playing for Kometa Brno this year and on-loan to his home town team of HC ZUBR Přerov, he once again distinguished himself as a player who seems head and shoulders above what his contemporaries should be like. He got there through some damn good skating, able to move around with quickness on the ice in any direction, and an active user of his stick in front of the net and while trying to disrupt cycles. If he ever creates a turnover off the opponent, pretty much everyone has to immediately turn up ice, because his very greatest skill is his ability to read the play in front of him and act on it. He knows exactly who’s going where and when they’ll be there, and he adjusts on defense to compensate for that, and on transition he can wire an excellent pass to the upcoming forward that can split defenses in twain. And if he can’t find any ways out from a friend? He’ll take it out himself. And when he gets to the offensive end, Svozil’s ability to read plays yet again allows him to create space for his offense to do what they need to. If you’re looking for a 200-foot defender who can also maybe quarterback a power play unit, he’s definitely one of the guys you’d want.
But of course, Svozil is even an option for the Bruins because for as good as he is, he still has some things he needs to work on. Namely, he’s a thin 6’0, and that causes him to sometimes lose puck battles against bigger, older players that he’s been playing with. Further, while he is an active, aggressive part of his backcheck, he can sometimes get carried away in trying to make something happen that he can get caught out of position trying to put pressure on the puck carrier, and can be sometimes found floundering to try and get back into position from where he ended up.
Svozil has tons of hype from his homeland, but his decision to go straight to the Czech pros instead of to Junior (which, in hindsight, was probably the correct decision given that Ontario junior and Western provinces junior barely played) probably ate any ability for scouts to truly begin hyping this guy up or adequately gauge just how good he is in comparison to his peers, since his peers appear to be “Jaromir Jagr at 48 and parts of the Czech national team” most of the time, and only occasionally being seen by north Americans during the world juniors. Still, Svozil oozes talent, and as projected could make a team very happy.
- 22nd by EliteProspects’ Consolidated Rankings
- 17th by EliteProspects
- 33th by FC Hockey
- 14th by Neutral Zone Hockey
- 30th by McKeen’s Hockey
- 16th by NHL Central Scouting among European Skaters
- 16th by Recruit Scouting
- 18th by DobberProspects
- 19th by Smaht Scouting
- 28th by The Puck Authority
- 34th by TSN (McKenzie)
|2017-18||HC Prerov U16||Czech U16||23||9||26||35||70|
|HC Prerov U18||Czech U18 - 2||6||1||4||5||5|
|2018-19||HC Kometa Brno U16||Czech U16||17||13||16||29||29|
|HC Kometa Brno U19||Czech U19||40||8||19||27||27|
|Czech Republic U16 (all)||International||16||5||9||14||14|
|2019-20||HC Kometa Brno U17||Czech U17||3||1||7||8||0|
|HC Kometa Brno U20||DHL Cup||10||1||5||6||2|
|HC Kometa Brno||Tipsport Extraliga||41||2||3||5||8|
|Czech Republic U17 (all)||International||8||0||5||5||4|
|Czech Republic U18 (all)||International||11||1||0||1||14|
|HC Kometa Brno||Tipsport Extraliga||30||1||2||3||8|
|HC Prerov||Czech 1st Liga||3||1||1||2||2|
|Czech Republic U20||International||9||1||5||6||16|