Category: Free Agent News

Alan Łyszczarczyk Returns to the Czech Republic

The offseason continues to be in full swing and we have the next home of the Polish Prince. Alan Łyszczarczyk will be playing with HC Frydek-Mistek in the Change Liga according to the team’s website. He will be playing for them on a loan from top Czech league team HC Ocelari Trinec.

While this return had been previously reported about for the Podhale native. I was curious to see if anything would change after a fantastic end to season that Łyszczarczyk had with Fort Wayne, including winning the Kelly Cup. Overall Łyszczarczyk played the most games of anyone in professional hockey last year recording 52 points (22G-30A-52PTS) in 84 games across the ECHL and Polska Hokej Liga.

Łyszczarczyk will be reuniting with his countrymen and Polish national team members Bartosz Ciura and Filip Komorski. Both players signed similar deals earlier in the offseason. Last year HC Frydek-Mistek finsihed 14th in the Chance Liga, missing the playoffs. This was the team’s worst finish since being promoted to the 2nd league. It makes sense the team added three Poles with winning experience.

If you want to keep up with all the Polish hockey action, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey, like our Facebook page, and add us on Instagram @PolishPuck_.

Radosław Sawicki Signs in Belarus

The departures from JKH GKS Jastrzebie continue, as the team has lost another one of their top Polish forwards. Radosław Sawicki has made the jump to go abroad signing with Shakhter Soligorsk in Belarus. This will be Sawicki’s second trip away from Poland in his career, after spending a junior season in the USPHL Elite.

Sawicki has long been considered a top young Polish forward, but only truly started to breakout in the past couple of years. After spending the early part of his career in Poland with GKS Katowice and KH Sanok, he moved over to JKH GKS Jastrzebie. In his two years with the team, he produced two above point-per-game seasons including 45 points (23-22-45) in 44 games in 2021. The 25-year-old also helped the green and white to their first PHL championship this season.

The 5’11 center in total recorded 177 points in 254 games with three clubs in Poland. On top of his one PHL championship, he also won a silver medal and and two bronze medals in the league. While I had my doubts about his 2020 season and how many points came up against weak teams. His 2021 season contained no such flaws. Its clear that the skilled center has high goals, as he told the Belarusian Extraleague A website, “In Jastrzęba I have achieved everything that can be achieved in Poland. I want to develop, so I must raise the bar for myself. I think Shakhtar and the Belarusian extraliga are very good places for this. I will come to a new country, a new culture and I will develop in hockey. Awesome! If I play as I expect, I will have a chance in the KHL – as part of Dynamo Minsk.

Shakhter Soligorsk has been a force in the Belarusian Extraleague A since their arrival in 2010, the team has made 4 final appearances winning one championship. Last year the team finished second in the regulars season, eventually losing in the semi-finals. Sawicki will be the first Polish player in Shakhter Soligorsk’s history. The Sanok native will be the sixth Polish player overall to play in the top level of hockey in Belarus.

If you want to keep up with all the Polish hockey action, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey, like our Facebook page, and add us on Instagram @PolishPuck_.

Bartosz Ciura and Filip Komorski Sign With HC Ocelari Trinec

I have had players tell me before that some foreign clubs don’t sign Polish players due to the poor reputation of Polish hockey. One team that is certainly not scared to take a chance on Polish talent is HC Ocelari Trinec. The club of Aron Chmielewski has added a pair of players from GKS Tychy in Bartosz Ciura and Filip Komorski per Hokej.net. Both players have signed one-year deals that will have them splitting time between HC Ocelari Trinec and HC Frydek-Mistek.

Bartosz Ciura is a stay-at-home defenseman with some physical chops. The 28-year-old captained team Poland at the three seas tournament, where he recorded three assists in three games. The three-time Polish champion with GKS Tychy recorded one goal and four assists this year in 46 games. He has played for Tychy since 2016.

Filip Komorski also joined the squad and is one of the most underrated Polish forwards, in my opinion. The sniper from Warszawa is one of the best goal scorers for the Polish national team, recording two goals at the three seas tournament. Since 2013, when Komorski debuted in the PHL, he is eighth in goals with 153. This included 20 goals and 20 assists in 45 games this year with GKS Tychy.

Both players are more than likely to start the year with HC Frydek-Mistek. HC Ocelari Trinec is one of the best clubs in the Czech Republic, winning the Tipsport Extraliga championship in 2021. They are technically back-to-back champs since no champion was awarded in 2020. HC Frydek-Mistek finished 14th in the Czech second league this past season. This is their fourth straight season where the club missed the playoffs. Bartosz Ciura and Filip Komorski are the third and fourth Polish players to sign abroad this year. Previously, Filip Stopinski signed with IceFighters Leipzig, and Michael Luba re-upped with Cholet.

If you want to keep up with all the Polish hockey action, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey, like our Facebook page, and add us on Instagram @PolishPuck_.

Former NHL First Round Pick Gilbert Brulé Signs In Poland.

Unia Oswiecim continues their string of big moves under new head coach Kevin Constantine. This time it is former 6th overall pick Gilbert Brulé. The 34-year-old Brulé is a physical forward with 299 NHL games, along with 278 KHL games. He joins ECHL top scorer Brett McKenzie and former NHL defensemen Victor Bartley in recent big moves by the club.

Brulé was drafted 6th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2005 NHL entry draft, after a successful junior career with the Vancouver Giants. He made his NHL debut during the 2006 season playing in seven games recording two goals and two assists. After a few years in Columbus, he was traded to Edmonton for Raffi Torres during the 2008 offseason. Struggling with consistency he found himself scratched, injured, or playing in the minors a lot during his time in Edmonton. After a strong start to the 2012 AHL year, he earned a call up to the Oilers. He had to pass through waivers first, which is when the Arizona Coyotes placed a claim. He played the rest of the year in Arizona, along with getting his only NHL post-season action during the Coyotes’ playoff run. The following year, he signed in Switzerland during the lockout. He would request to terminate his contact though after just 14 games with the ZSC Lions. The Edmonton native would return to the Coyotes for the 2014 season, but would retire from professional hockey on January 1st, 2014.

This retirement would not hold as Brulé signed in the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2015 season. He would play the next six seasons in the KHL with six different clubs, most recently with Kunlun Red Star. In 2018, he was named to the Canadian Olympic team that took bronze at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Now in 2020, he signed in Poland with former Kunlun Red Star teammate Victor Bartley.

The expectations were high for Unia Oswiecim after their second place finish in 2020. Injuries and few disappointments among imports led to the team struggling from the start. Things reached a peak when head coach Nik Zupancic resigned from the team after an altercation with an official. The team hired former NHL head coach Kevin Constantine in his place. It appears they are making a quick turn around as well, as the team has made it to the finals of the Polish Cup vs. JKH GKS Jastrzebie.

If you want to keep up with all the Polish hockey action, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey, like our Facebook page, and add us on Instagram @PolishPuck_.

Alan Łyszczarczyk Returns to the USA, Signs with Orlando Solar Bears

Alan Łyszczarczyk will be returning to the USA, and back to playing the in the ECHL. The top Polish forward started the year playing in Poland for Podhale Nowy Targ. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the ECHL to delay their season til late 2020. Before the season, Łyszczarczyk’s rights were traded to the Idaho Steelheads by the Fort Wayne Komets. The Steelheads though forfeited his rights, once it was announced they won’t be apart of the of the first ECHL start date. In his lone PHL season, he recorded 10 goals and 10 assists in 23 games. He would often play in the bottom forward lines for Podhale, as the team prepared for a future without him. That future has come as the team announced that Łyszczarczyk was returning to the USA.

Hokej.net is now reporting that his return is to be with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL. It is an interesting move as the Solar Bears is the ECHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that has taken their development in the minor leagues very seriously. The previous year, Alan played with the Fort Wayne Komets putting up 19 goals and 27 assists in 57 games. One of the best seasons among ECHL rookies. Recently some his teammates from that Fort Wayne team signed in Poland. Former Canucks draft pick Brett McKenzie, who played on a line with Łyszczarczyk, signed in Unia Oswiecim, while defensemen Taylor Doherty signed in Krakow.

The Orlando Solar Bears are off to a good start with four wins in their first five games. The team finished fifth in the ECHL last year, but the playoffs were cancelled due to COVID. The team’s head coach and GM is Drake Berehowsky. Berehowsky is a former long time NHL player with over 500 NHL games to his resume. He also has a connection with Łyszczarczyk, as Berehowsky was an associate coach with the Sudbury Wolves from 2015 to 2017, the same years that Alan played for the OHL club.

If you want to keep up with all the Polish hockey action, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey, like our Facebook page, and add us on Instagram @PolishPuck_.

Belarus Club Neman Grodno Signs Krystian Dziubiński and Oskar Jaśkiewicz

Two significant contributors to the Polish national team are going to be trying their hand abroad this year in Belarus. Forward Krystian Dziubiński and Defenseman Oskar Jaśkiewicz have both signed one year deals with Neman Grodno.

At 32-years-old, this is the first time that Krystian Dziubiński will be playing abroad in his senior career. He did play high school and junior hockey in the United States. Dziubiński has played in the PHL since 2008, racking up 578 games, and 514 points (243-271-514). The Nowy Targ native has also been an irreplaceable member of the national team, appearing at IIHF senior events for Poland in 12 straight years. Last year, he played with Podhale Nowy Targ recording 60 points (29-31-60) in 53 games, a new career-high. Dziubiński had made his intentions of playing abroad known after the PHL playoffs were canceled.

Per Planetofhockey.com, Oskar Jaśkiewicz will be joining his national teammate for his first trip abroad. The 24-year-old two-way defenseman is one of the best Polish defensemen right now. The Nowy Targ native had spent his entire career with Podhale Nowy Targ, up until he signed with GKS Katowice last season. A big part of his signing in Katowice was experienced head coach Risto Dufva, who controversially left mid-season. Jaśkiewicz recorded 13 points (2-11-13) in 49 games this year with Katowice. He also recorded a goal and two assists at the Olympic qualifiers.

This will be a valuable experience for both players. They will gain more experience against stronger competition regularly. This was also a big deal for former national team forward turned agent Krzysztof Zapała, as these are the first two clients of his to sign a deal with a stronger league outside of Poland.

Neman Grodno is one of the top clubs in Belarus. They have won four championships this decade and finished first or second in the regular season every year since 2016. The team will also be playing in the Champions Hockey League this year. Grodno is also where GKS Katowice captain Grzegorz Pasiut played from 2016 to 2018.

If you want to keep up with all the offseason news, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

Dawid Zabolotny Moves to New Oberliga Squad

Dawid Zabolotny will be staying in the Oberliga for a fourth straight season. The Polish-German goaltender has signed on with the EC Hannover Indians on a one year deal. Hannover finished fourth last season in the North division of the Oberliga.

The former JKH GKS Jastrzebie starting goalie has played in the third tier of German hockey since 2017. Last year with Deggendorfer SC, he recorded a .879 sv% and 3.46 GAA, while among the leaders for goalies in ice time and shots faced. The 26-year-old goalie has been named to a few non-IIHF Polish senior team rosters but has yet to face in-game action.

In the team’s press release, Head coach Len Soccio commented on the signing, With David we were able to guide our dream player to Hanover for the position of the goalkeeper. We have been watching him for a long time and had it on the slip. I am very happy that he will join our team in August.” (Translated from German).

Hannover had a desperate need for goalies after both of their previous netminders departed this offseason in free agency. The team announced in the same press release they also signed 23-year-old German goaltender Lukas Schaffrath. Schaffrath served as a back up on Herner EV 2007 last season playing nine games.

Zabolotny is the third Polish goaltender that will be playing aboard this season. He joins Ondrej Raszka and Michael Luba. Raszka recently signed with Trinec in the Tipsport Extraliga but is expected to play in the Chance Liga Luba is signed with Cholet in the second tier of French senior hockey.

If you want to keep up with all the offseason news, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

Ondřej Raszka Signs In Tipsport Extraliga

Polish national team goalie Ondřej Raszka has signed in the Tipsport Extraliga with HC Ocelari Trinec. The 30-year-old goaltender had previously announced he was leaving JKH GKS Jastrzebie. Raszka will most likely be playing with HC Frydek-Mistek in the Chance Liga, the second tier of Czech senior hockey. HC Ocelari Trinec is the same club of Polish star Aron Chmielewski and Polish-born former NHLer Wojtek Wolski

The 30-year-old goalie was born in Trinec Czech Republic, but arrived in Poland with KTH Krynica in 2010-11. He has played in Poland since then, besides being loaned to lower Czech leagues in 2012-13 and part of the 2018 season with Telford Tigers (EPIHL). Raszka gained a Polish passport and has represented Poland at numerous non-IIHF tournaments. The goalie had one of his best years to date in the PHL, leading JKH GKS Jastrzebie, to both a Polish Cup and Visegrad Cup championships. He posted a .926 SV% in 33 regular-season games. Raszka is the first new national team member to go aboard this offseason but could be the first of many. Raszka is the third Polish player under contract in the top Czech league for 2019-20, joining Aron Chmielewski (HC Ocelari Trinec) and Pawel Zygmunt (HC Litvinov).

If you want to keep up with all the offseason news, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

Noureddine Bettahar Will Not Return to EC Kassel Huskies

The EC Kassel Huskies announced plenty of players departing the club, among them was Polish national team forward Noureddine Bettahar. Bettahar had his best year in the DEL2 to date. The Polish right-winger posted 23 points (3-20-23) in 49 games. In parts of the past three seasons in the DEL2, he posted 29 points in 80 games.

The 6’2 native of Trier made his long-awaited senior IIHF debut for Poland this year at the Olympic Qualifiers, he posted one assist in three games helping Poland advance to the next round of qualification. He was supposed to make his debut the previous year but received a concussion in practice that derailed his entire season. There is currently no word on where the 25-year-old will be suiting up next year.

If you want to keep up with all the offseason news, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.

Four National Team Members Won’t Return to Cracovia Krakow

After a disappointing fifth-place finish in the PHL regular season, Cracovia Krakow came into the playoff as an underdog. However, the team still was able to take JKH GKS Jastrzebie to seven games in a back and forth first-round series. In the end, the green and black would get the better of Krakow in the series. The results are clearly not up to par with what is usually expected from Cracovia, as the 2019-20 season is the first season since  2014-15 that club did not compete for the championship or for bronze. While the rest of the world doesn’t know what to do right now, Cracovia knows they want to reshape their roster.

Per Hokej.net, Adam Domogała, Kamil Kalinowski, Maciej Kruczek, and Mateusz Bepierszcz, all will not be returning to Krakow. Most of these players excelled in the 2018-19 season but struggled as the league improved this year.

Adam Domogala posted 28 points (11-17-28) in 46 games during his fifth season in the red and white. The Katowice native played his junior hockey in Germany, along with spending his first few professional seasons in the DEL2 and Oberliga. He made his senior IIHF debut for Poland at last year’s World Championships and recorded two goals in five games. I have to imagine GKS Katowice could be a likely destination for the soon to be 27-year-old forward.

Kamil Kalinowski recorded 14 points (6-8-14) in 32 games in his first full season with Cracovia Krakow. He joined them in the middle of last year after spending the previous three seasons with GKS Tychy. He made quite the impression in a short time recording 16 points (5-11-16) in 22 games, but could not repeat that success. Kalinowski last represented Poland at a non-IIHF event in 2018. The 28-year-old center is a product of the Torun junior system, and brother Michal plays for Torun. Given KH Torun’s emergence, I wonder if Kamil could return to the program like Bartosz Fraszko did.

Maciej Kruczek posted 16 points (5-11-16) in 44 games during his sixth season with Cracovia Krakow. The defensemen served as captain of Krakow in 2018. Kruczek has represented Poland three times at the World Championships, and most likely would have been four if not for an equipment issue in 2019. The veteran defensemen should have a large number of suitors for his strong two-way game.

Mateusz Bepierszcz posted 23 points (7-16-23) in 52 games with Cracovia this season. This is a far cry from his production last year, where he posted 55 points (24-31-55) 58 games. The 6’3 left winger has bounced around plenty of top teams in the Polish league and will be looking to join his fifth team this offseason. The 28-year-old has only represented Poland at one World Championship but has represented Poland at two Olympic qualifier tournaments, and is a regular at non-IIHF events.

If you want to keep up with all the offseason news, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.