The Czechs have always had a liking for great netminders.
The trouble is, aside from Dominik Hasek, the names of Czech Republic netminders at the NHL level are...well, not exactly a glittering constellation of stars. Only 13 have ever played an NHL game and...well, look at the list.
Tomas Vokoun, Ondrej Pavelec, Roman Turek, Roman Cechmanek and Milan Hnilicka. That's the top five most successful Czech goalies behind Hasek.
18-year-old Dan Vladar is hoping to carve his own legacy in the NHL. The youngster from Prague has become the latest Czech stopper to sign an NHL contract, joining the Bruins with a 3-year entry level deal today.
But who is he?
Vladar was ranked #2 among international netminders for the 2015 draft, and he was taken #75 overall by Boston.
He's a 6'5, 185lb netminder who has developed in the Czech system with Kladno and the international teams through the age groups, and has already spent time playing men's hockey with Kladno in the Czech 2nd division at the age of 16, playing 8 games with a 93.3% SV and a 1.97 GAA. This season with Chicago he's played 30 USHL games for a 92.0% SV and a 2.31 GAA...not bad at all for a goalie adjusting to his first season of North American hockey.
Vladar is a big, agile netminder with superb reflexes and movement for his size. His rebound control was considered to be the best in the 2015 draft class, and his lower-net coverage and pad movement, too, was something that had scouts excited. He is a raw goalie who plays the European fashion of staying deep in the net, and his positioning and reflexes can still get better - they will, however, only improve as he gets older and is given more time and coaching.
He is not a finished product by any means, and it will be a surprise (or a result of desperate circumstances indeed) to see him in a Bruins jersey in a meaningful NHL game for several seasons yet. However, netminders are traditionally given all the time they need to grow and develop, and one can expect Vladar to be given a lot of reps in the ECHL and AHL over the next few seasons before he's even considered close to the NHL level.
What Vladar is is 6'5 of raw netminding talent waiting to be moulded. Give him the time, and he could be a very exciting sight in Boston's net down the road.
InGoal magazine had Vladar ranked 38th of the top 50 goaltending prospects who have 10 or less NHL games and are under 25. Here is their brief writeup on him: