Now down to the final three. These are three players that will be very special for Polish hockey. What they have accomplished is already unique and rare for Polish players. Every time we see a Polish team get relegated, or the men’s team suffers a cruel loss that leaves us devastated. Remembering players like these, are why I have so much hope in Polish hockey. Unfortunately, with our player coming in at number three, there is not much to talk about with their season. They already had a 99% chance to be in the top five, but what he did in the offseason set it in stone.
Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on June 30th, 2021. We are only judging play that occurred before that date as well. Players are evaluated based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. Players must have played at least five hockey games to be considered. While most of the ranking is my opinion, numerous Polish hockey people contributed their thoughts on players. One hundred forty-five players were considered for the list and reviewed. Eighty players received a ranking. Players 80-51 will be revealed at the end of the series in the breakdown article. Only the top 50 players receive a report.
Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2020, change in rankings)
3 – Jakub Lewandowski, 20, HC Vitkovice U20, (2, -1)
Jakub Lewandowski has done everything perfectly to succeed outside of Poland. He has the size, skills, and success in strong junior leagues. That made it no surprise when he was listed as a potential late NHL draft pick, along with moving over to the United State’s top junior league, the United States Hockey League. For the 2021 season, with covid causing havoc, Lewandowski returned to Czechia to play junior hockey. After five games, Lewandowski’s season would end due to Czechia canceling the U20 season. Lewandowski did record five points (1G-4A-5PTS) in his five games.
During the offseason, Lewandowski made a big career move. He announced an NCAA commitment to Bemidji State University. He will be only the third Polish player to play in the NCAA and the first since Filip Starzyński in 2018. Bemidji State University has been playing at the top level of college hockey since 1999. Tom Serratore has coached the Beavers from Northern Minnesota since they made the NCAA jump. It was also the former home of NHL players Brad Hunt (Canucks) and Zach Whitecloud (Golden Knights).
It was hard to rank players that had a situation like Lewandowski. If Lewanowskoski had just played the whole year, he would no doubt be the Polish player of the year. But losing a year of development is a big thing for young players, there is also not much to judge a player on for the season. Lewandowski is no doubt a special player and, based on his freshman year in the NCAA, is easily on pace to surpass past Polish players that appeared in the NCAA. For the age 20 season, his point per game average is slightly above Mike Cichy’s 20-year-old season.