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. In this part, we look at the player ranked second.
Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team
2 – Jan Soltys (F), 19, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. The second player on my list is one who can do it all. Soltys has the best all-around game of any Polish player. The 5’11 forward is a perfect fit for North American hockey. He has a game that could make Don Cherry fall in love with a European player as his head explodes from trying to pronounce a Polish name.
Soltys has been a staple of Poland’s junior teams since he was 16. He made his first IIHF appearance at the 2017 Division 1 Group B U18 World Championships. He was the youngest member of Poland at that tournament and recorded a goal and an assist. The following season he was named to both Poland’s U18 team and U20 squads. He captained the U18 team as they took silver in Division 2 Group A, recording three goals and four assists. At the U20s, he was once again the youngest member of a Polish national team. The only 2000 born player at the tournament for Poland recorded two goals in five games.
This year he was a crucial part of Poland’s U20 team again. He recorded three goals and two assists, tied with Kamil Walega for the second-most on the team. Soltys was an absolute beast in this tournament. He was the most physically dominant player at the tournament. He was also able to make his senior team debut this year playing two games. His play style really makes him a strong contender to make his senior World Championship debut soon.
Soltys has been playing a majority of his seasons in the PHL since he was 16. His age 16 season in 2015-16, saw him put up four goals and one assist in 31 games. He was the only 16 years old to play more than 15 games that year. The five points are tied, with Bartlomiej Jeziorski, for the 4th most points by a U17 player in PHL going back to 1990. The following year, he only played 28 games between Poland’s two pro leagues as Soltys was quite busy with many junior national team endeavors. He still recorded two goals and two assists in the 18 games at the PHL level for SMS U20 Katowice, which was part of a four-way tied for the team lead.
This year was really his breakout year offensively in the PHL. Anyone who saw him on the junior stage knew it was coming and he delivered in a massive way. This season between JKH GKS Jastrzebie and PZHL U23, Soltys had 22 points (8-14-22) in 38 games. This was tied for second in terms of points by a U20 player in the PHL, and the highest point per game. It ranks as the 7th highest point per game posted by an 18-year-old player in the PHL going back to 1990.
David Leger, the former head of Poland’s junior teams, was quite the fan of Soltys’ game. He had him at both the U18s and U20s in 2018. After the season, Leger commented on him, “He scored two big goals for us at the u20 tournament. I spent the whole year with him on the SMS team. Soltys is physically dominant, competes and battles, and not afraid to go to the net, plays very similar to a North American. Skates well and good puck skills. I was disappointed a little bit, I had a team contact me from the CHL asking about him and saw he wasn’t selected in the import draft. I think he would be really suited to play major junior hockey. I think he’s got a really bright future.”
Soltys is an all-around great player with a complete toolset with no major flaw in his game. He is a strong skater which aids every facet of his game. I don’t think there is another junior player in Poland that throws some of the hits that he does. He is always going to forecheck and backcheck, usually winning that puck battle. Soltys annoys the opposition to the point they wish they chose football as a kid. His offensive skills have continued to improve tremendously. His puck skills now rank among the best for young Polish players. Soltys is going to be a star, no doubt in my mind.
While I may sound like a broken record in this list series saying players need to go aboard to develop, that applies to Soltys as well. The specific target in my mind for him would be to go to the United States Hockey League. The league is the top junior league in the United States. I think he would excel in this league and attract a lot of professional interest. For next season, Soltys will be a leader for Poland at the U20 World Championship, and probably get more senior national team games in. On the professional side, Soltys has been training with JKH GKS Jastrzebie. He is likely to play a more significant role for the team and spend less time with the PZHL u23 squad.