Ivan Hlinka Gretzky Preview: Slovakia

A team that has never made it past the placement game, Slovakia is a team that is likely due to have some struggles at this tournament. Never really been able to bring in high end talent and compete against those powerhouses like Russia, Sweden, USA, Canada, or Finland. They are usually at the bottom playing against Switzerland. This year is a bit more interesting for the Slovak’s however, they have a stud prospect on their team in Maxim Cajkovic, a player who led U18’s in points per game last year and will likely attract scouts to watched their games. They also have two interesting prospects in Oliver Turan and Michael Mrazik who are two players who have suited up with a Slovakian team of some sorts over the past year and had some success. They also have a pretty well touted 2020 draft prospect in Samuel Knazko. Slovakia has always struggled defensively, at times they can break out in offensive spirts and put up a few. This year will likely be a similar outcome, there defense is looking like it might struggle and their goalies are all under 6’0. Despite the pessimistic thoughts on the team though, I still think they have prospects to watch, more so in this year than the previous ones. Also might be looking at a first round pick come June 2019.

Previous Years Results: 

Marko Dano (2011)

Milos Roman (2016)

Adam Ruzicka (2016)

Notable Alumni’s:

2018: Placement Game lost

2017: Placement Game win

2016: Placement Game loss

2015: Placement Game loss

Forwards:

Maxim Cajkovic

Jozef Hascak

Simon Jellus

Adam Kormuth

Dominik Sojka

Adrian Valigura

Juraj Elias

Martin Schromiak

Dominik Jendek

Michal Mrazik

Artur Turansky

Martin Volko

Defense:

Michal Beno

Andrej Golian

Marej Ilencik

David Murdrak

Fransitek Gajdos

Viktor Hatina

Samuel Knazko

Oliver Turan

Goalies:

Dominik Antala

Patrik Kozel

David Borak

Players to Watch: 

Maxim Cajkovic – The highlight player on this years Slovakian Ivan Hlinka team, Cajkovic is a legit NHL prospect who is expected to shine at this years tournament. He stood out last year at the WJC U18 tournament where he finished second in scoring with 11 points in five games. He’s a dynamic player who is slick in his puck controls and shifty in the offensive zone. Constantly moving and attacks different lanes with and without the puck. Smart and able to anticipate where the puck is going to be. Expect him to hover around a point per game despite having a weaker team.

Michal Mrazik – The other big forward prospect to watch on this team, Mrazik is a big 6’4 winger who got the opportunity to play with the Slovakian U18 team last year. He scored three goals in five games with the U18’s and also put up 20 points last year in the Slovakia U20 league. A big power forward who can force his way through traffic without the puck and put his stick in a good scoring area. He is hard to knock around and plays strong on his skates. A great complimentray player for Cajkovic to feed the puck to. Expected to play in Rogle this upcoming year in the SuperElit.

Samuel Knazko – Slovakia’s top 2020 NHL draft prospect, Knazko is likely to be the guy to watch on the backend this year. A composed two-way defender who can make quick decision with the puck and move well laterally. His stride is long and efficient, it makes it simple for him to jump up in the rush off a first pass. Expected to play in the SM-Liiga with TPS this upcoming season.

Schedule:

August 6th Monday 3:00pm MDT against Sweden

August 7th Tuesday 7:00pm MDT against Canada

August 8th Wednesday 3:00pm MDT against Switzerland