Despite all that seems to go wrong in Polish hockey the light at the end of the tunnel has been the amount of great young talent that Poland has in their system right now. This is the deepest depth of young talent Poland has had this century. Regardless of what happens in regards to management and coaching with the talent that Poland has coming, they should be able to push forward. In this list, I wanted to rank Poland’s young talent to create a better picture of what the future look likes. This is part 2 of the series as we look at the players ranked 26 through 21.
Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team
#26 – Marcin Plachetka (F), 18, JKH GKS Jastrzebie U20. I like to judge players more on their club season than IIHF and international events. Plachetka was the 6th leading scorer on SMS PZHL Katowice and 10th in point per game among players in Poland’s U20 league. Both of these are impressive feats, but he is ranked above many of the players who finished above him. This is because of just how impressive Plachetka was during his stint with Poland U18. In the four exhibition games before the U18 World Championship, Plachetka managed two goals and two assists. Then at the U18s, he had two goals and three assists in five games. He was consistently Poland’s best forward. Whether that was killing penalties or being trusted with top offensive roles.
#25 – Jakub Michalowski (D), 21, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. One of Poland’s finest young defensive defensemen. Michalowski has already earned a full-time defensive role in the PHL. He played a lot with the national team this year, getting five games at non-IIHF events. Michalowski’s biggest battle will be beating out other defensemen for a spot on team Poland. He is a strong skater, and he can shut down any opposing top line. His lack of offensive skills will hurt him as Poland continues to move more and more towards two-way defensemen. Michalowski has shown some decent puck skills, but not a threat to rush the puck. The strongest credit to him and why I would like to see more of him at the top level is the ability to break the puck out.
#24 – Dominik Jarosz (LW), 21, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. Long regarded as one of the best young players in Poland Jarosz has been representing Poland at IIHF events since he was 16. He always played above his age and at high levels for his age. This made his transition to the top level of hockey in Poland during 2015-16 season expected. At 20-years-old he has already played 154 regular season and playoff games in the PHL. He has been a good player in the PHL, that always feels like a candidate to break out offensively. He continues to be outproduced though by other younger PHL forwards like teammates Dominik Pas or Jan Soltys. Jarosz has a lot of the key abilities that Poland is looking for in forwards; speed and size. He already is good enough to make team Poland with his game away from the puck and was given those chances by Valtonen this year. If Jarosz can begin to produce offensively at a higher level, he would easily be a top 6 forward for Poland for years to come.
#23 – Olaf Bizacki (D), 20, GKS Tychy. Bizacki is a special defenseman with a complete toolset. He just needs to keep maturing his game. He has been named the best player on team Poland at the U18s, and the best defensemen at the 2018-2019 Division 1B U20 Championship. He has been one of the top players for Poland at the junior levels. The next step in his game is just to improve his all-around skill set against men’s teams. He will continue to have a lot of competition when it comes to getting chances on GKS Tychy’s defense. It may be a few years before we see Bizacki appear at a World Championship, but expect him to slowly earn a spot on team Poland. I imagine he will get some senior games this season.
#22 – Igor Smal (C), 19, MH Automatyka Gdansk. Smal turned pro full time this year at just 18-years-old and proved that he may be one of the top centers of the future for Poland. He had the 7th most points by a U20 player in the PHL. In the second league, he really showed off with nine goals and twelve assists in eight games. His 2.63 points per game were the second highest by any U20 player behind Kamil Walega. He played for team Poland at the U20 World Championships. His excellent offensive play continued there. Smal has performed well beyond his age and could begin to start getting senior international games as early as next year. The true question about Smal is what his ceiling is? It may not be as high as other forwards, and that is why he ends up outside the top 20.
#21 – Patryk Krezolek (F), 21, GKS Katowice. Krezolek recently earned a three year deal with GKS Katowice. Krezolek has been able to produce strong numbers in the PHL, despite his age. His 27 points were tied for the most by a U23 player in the PHL. He was able to recover strongly after not playing a lot during the 2017-18 season. A player of outstanding offensive ability, Krezolek is extremely smart and always seems to be in the perfect position to make something happen. I would expect him to start consistently being a part of team Poland at international events.