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 9 and 8.
Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team
#9 – Kamil Walega (F), 19, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. This year Kamil Walega and Jan Soltys did something that I thought was impossible in making PZHL U23 a competitive team. In 22 games with PZHL, Walega had 11 goals and 3 assists. His 11 goals are the most ever scored by any player apart of a PHL junior squad in the history of the PHL. When you throw in his 20 games with JKH GKS Jastrzebie, his season totals at 16 goals and 7 assists in 42 games. That is the highest goal and point total among U20 players and the second highest point per game among players with at least 5 games played. In the history of the PHL, it is the 16th highest overall total by a U20 player in the league.
There exist only a few production matches for Walega, but they do us no good in projecting his future. The players are Bartlomiej Jeziorski, Dominik Pas, Mateusz Goscinski, and Pawel Polacarz. Jeziorski, Pas, and Goscinski are all still fairly young great players, but still there careers are too young to judge. Polacarz, on the other hand, faced a lot of injury problems and retired at only 22 in 2011. Such a rare season should be considered good, especially based on how much players like Jeziroski or Pas improved their production the following year.
Walega also made his senior national team debut playing in two exhibition games against Hungary. He was a leader on Poland’s U20 team as well at the U20 World Championships. He had 1 goal and 4 assists, which was tied for the second most points on the team. He is only 5’10 but plays like he is much larger. He has some great edge work that he uses to protect the puck and drive the net. A true powerhouse on the offensive front. Walega will be able to return to team Poland U20 next year, and I imagine he’ll get more games with the senior national team as well. Walega is a player that has outgrown Poland. I don’t think he can gain much more from playing in the PHL and it would be best for his development to try and move up to a stronger league. Poland’s U20 coach agrees with this idea as shown by an interview after the U20 World Championship, “Our problem is that players like Pasia or Wałęgi should go to Sweden two years ago to continue to develop. In Poland, they will learn nothing more.”
#8 – Damian Tyczynski (LW), 19, HK Poprad U20. Tyczynski was an absolute scoring machine last year in the Slovak U20 league. In 46 regular season games, he had 22 goals and 47 assists for 69 points. That led the regular season in scoring by 16 points. It was also the second highest points per game among players with 15 games played.
He was unfortunately injured in his first playoff game and missed the rest of the postseason, but still managed assists before going down to bring his point total up to 70. Even when overall totals are applied, Tyczynski lead the league in scoring by 6 points!
With a performance like that you have to imagine HK Poprad would be pleased enough for him to get a chance in the Tipsport Liga right? Nope. Tyczynski saw 6 of his teammates get a chance with the team, but never got his. Tyczynski set the U20’s team record for assists in a season and the second most points in a season. The answer is simple as to why he didn’t get a chance and that is because he is Polish. Tyczynski knows this pretty well and has said it in multiple interviews, but still hoped to earn a chance with the top squad. In an interview with Sport.sk Tyczynski talked about why some chances have fallen through when asked if he is interested in being drafted to the NHL, “Of course. It is my dream. But there is one problem – I am a Pole and they do not want the Poles. When they learn that I am from Poland, they lose interest. I do not know. There were some chances for me as well, but when they learned that I was a Pole, it fell. I see the problem in a lack of tradition. They don’t believe us. ”
Most players who produced like him at his age have gone on to the Canadian Hockey League or turned pro in Europe. That is what makes the future of Tyczynski so interesting. His resume says that he should be getting a lot of interest from stronger leagues, but apparently, the Polish factor is holding him back. He will be able to play for team Poland next year at the U20 World Championships, but that is the only known team he will be on. He will always have a chance to play in the PHL, and had offers last offseason to come over including from Cracovia Krakow. He deserves to be in a higher league though.