Category: Mens Hockey

Tomek Valtonen Named Head Coach of Team Poland

In Valtonen We Trust! Tomek Valtonen has been named the head coach of team Poland. He will also be coaching Podhale Nowy Targ, who compete in the top level of Polish hockey league. Valtonen steps into quite a challenge with team Poland. The team was relegated to Division 1B last year and face very big financial problems that will be more clear when the PZHL’s audit is complete. The biggest goals for Valtonen will be to get Poland back to the elite division, help gets Poland youth training get to a better place, and bring stability to the national team that it has been missing.

Valtonen is a former Finnish-Polish player, who played a physical game. He as a 2nd round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1998. He would play one season in North America for the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League. After that, he returned to Finland, where he played 8 straight seasons with Jokerit in the Liiga. He would retire in 2009 playing one for more season with Jokerit after he played only 4 games in the Swedish Elite League. In total, Valtonen would record 68 goals and 65 assists in 421 games along with 738 penalty minutes. He would also play over 90 games with Finland’s national team.

Right after he retired from playing at the age of 29, Valtonen went into coaching. He was an assistant coach for Jokerit’s u20 team. The following season, he would take over as head coach for the U20 team and hold the role for two seasons. Valtonen moved up to professional hockey as an assistant coach for Jokerit. This same year, he also served as an assistant on Finland’s World Junior team. The following year Vlatonen would already get his professional head coaching chance with Jokerit after replacing Tomi Lämsä midseason. Jokerit would not retain him and Valtonen would take a head coaching job with Vaasan Sport. He would hold the title from 2014-2018.

His job in Podhale should allow him to get acquainted with plenty of key national team players including Przemyslaw Odrobny, Patryk Wajda, Krystian Dziubinski, Marcin Kolusz, and Krzysztof Zapala. Podhale was able to capture bronze in the PHL last year and will look to replicate that again under Valtonen. Joining Valtonen on Podhale is former Jokerit junior coach, Marko Ronkko. Ronkko was an assistant coach for U16, U18, and U20 Jokerit junior teams from 2003 to 2015.

 

 

The 6 Candidates to be Poland’s Next Head Coach.

Hokej.net has reported the six candidates for Poland’s next head coach.

“Przeprowadziliśmy więc własne śledztwo. Wynika z niego, że aplikacje złożyli Tomek Valtonen, Andrej Husau, David LegerAndriej Sidorenko, a także Krzysztof Majkowski i Słowak z czeskim paszportem Ernest Bokroš. ”

Glen Hanlon was also interested in the job but did not submit an application in time.

Tomek Valtonen 

Valtonen is a former Finnish-Polish player, who played a physical game. He as a 2nd round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1998. He would play one season in North America for the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League. After that, he returned to Finland, where he played 8 straight seasons with Jokerit in the Liiga. He would retire in 2009 playing one for more season with Jokerit after he played only 4 games in the Swedish Elite League. In total, Valtonen would record 68 goals and 65 assists in 421 games along with 738 penalty minutes. He would also play over 90 games with Finland’s national team.


Right after he retired from playing at the age of 29, Valtonen went into coaching. He was an assistant coach for Jokerit’s u20 team. The following season, he would take over as head coach for the U20 team and hold the role for two seasons. Valtonen moved up to professional hockey as an assistant coach for Jokerit. This same year, he also served as an assistant on Finland’s World Junior team. The following year Vlatonen would already get his professional head coaching chance with Jokerit after replacing Tomi Lämsä midseason. Jokerit would not retain him and Valtonen would take a head coaching job with Vaasan Sport. He would hold the title from 2014-2018.

Valtonen has a lot of pros that make him the leading candidate for Poland’s head coaching job. Valtonen is the youngest candidate at only 37 years old. He has Polish roots and even speaks Polish. He has coached at the highest level most recently and has the most recent top-level playing experience. He also would be in Poland year round as he will be coaching Podhale Nowy Targ. He comes with negatives, during his 4 years with Sport in the Liiga, he never had a winning record and only made the playoffs once.

Andrej Husau

Husau, or Gosuov, is a Belarusian former player. He spent most of his career in Belarus, Poland, and Russia. He represented Belarus in tons of international tournaments and at multiple World Championships. He retired in 2004-05. That year he was also a coach for HK-Brest’s second team and Belarus’ u18 team. Husau would later become a head coach for Keramin Minsk and eventually get a head coaching chance with Dynamo Minsk in the KHL. Minsk would not bring him and Husau would serve 7 seasons as the head coach for Shakhter Soligorsk. He would also serve as an assistant coach for Belarus, during his time in the KHL and with Shakhter Soligorsk. In 2017-18, Husau would leave Belarus and take a job coaching GKS Tychy in Poland. In his first season in Poland, he won a championship. Husau comes with a long of good experience and knowledge of the Polish hockey league. He also has already committed to coaching GKS Tychy again next year and would be in Poland year round. He has won championships in both Belarus and Poland as a coach.

David Leger

Leger never played professional hockey and spent his entire career in hockey coaching. He got his first coaching job in 1998 with the Hawkesbury Hawks in the Canadian Junior Hockey Leauge. He would work his way to head coaching chance with them but would leave the following season to work at the University of Ottawa. After 3 seasons as an assistant coach for the University, he would take over as head coach and hold the role for 8 years. Afer his stint at Ottawa, he would move around a lot of coaching in the OHL, Asia League, Erste League, and ECHL as head coach and assistant coach. Last season he coached Poland’s u18 and u20 team internationally and coached the PHL’s SMS U20 Katowice. Leger is a coach, who has spent his entire career in developing players and helping mold them as people. Poland’s youth is their most important asset and Leger’s experience with coaching young players would be quite the asset for Poland. Leger also knows most of Poland’s future core, coaching them already. I also was a fan of his work at the international level this year for Poland. I believe Leger has a lot of value for Poland. While that doesn’t qualify him automatically to be Poland’s head coach, I would hope Poland keeps him around.

Ernest Bokros

Bokros is probably the most shocking candidate outside of the reported Glen Hanon interest. Bokros played in the Czech league in the 80s when it was Czechoslovakia. He retired in 1993. He started coaching and became a staple of the Slovakian national team. He has served as the assistant coach on their World Championship teams and has held basically every role for their U20 and u18 national teams. He also served as the head coach for HC Zlin in the Czech league for 5 years. Bokros has plenty of other head coaching jobs across Czechnia and Slovakia, but the biggest one for Poland to pay attention to is his work as head coach of Team Slovakia U20. Team Slovakia u20 is a team that plays in Slovakia’s top league consisting of players under 20. Poland needs someone to help players develop and Bokros, like Leger, has a lot of experience under his wings. I’m not really sure what to think of Bokros, just due to how much of outsider he is and not knowing his plans for next season. He currently doesn’t have a coaching job, but Poland needs someone who will be in Poland year round.

Andrei Sidorenko

Sidorenko is personally my least favorite candidate. It is nothing personal against him or believing he is under qualified it comes down him wanting to keep his current VHL job if coaching the national team. Again Poland needs someone who is going to be in Poland year round and invested in Poland, there can not be another Ted Nolan type season. Sidorenko was a former player in the Soviet league and went into coaching upon his retirement. He has been a head coach in hockey since 1992 and includes head coaching in Belarus, KHL, VHL, and Poland. Sidorenko has also coached the national team before in 2004-05. He coached them to a great performance at the Olympic Qualifiers and a Silver medal in the Division 1 Group A worlds. He had also served as team Belarus head coach at multiple international events. There is a lot to love about him as a coach, but Poland needs a coach who will be focused on Poland.

Krzysztof Majkowski

Majkowski is former Polish player. He spent most of his career with GKS Tychy playing 17 seasons for them. He represented Poland once at the U18s in 1996. Majowski was never a top polish player but played a nice stay at home defensive game that kept him in the league for a long time. Since retiring in 2013, he has served as an assistant coach on GKS Tychy. Started in 2017, he has been an assistant coach on team Poland at the World Championships. At 40 years old, Majkowski is still young enough to continue working his way up the coaching ladder, but without a head coaching job yet and not a lot of experience it just doesn’t make sense for him to take on such a large project.

Ted Nolan Out as National Team Head Coach

Update: The PZHL has confirmed that Ted Nolan and Tom Coolen have left team Poland. pzhl.org.pl/konkurs-na-stanowisko-selekcjonera-kadry-seniorow/

The In Ted Nolan We Trust era is over in Poland it seems. Hokej.net reporters, Radosław Kozłowski and Sebastian Królicki, report that there will be a meeting on Tuesday next week. At that meeting, they are expected to terminate the contracts of Ted Nolan and Tom Coolen. Krzysztof Majkowski and Marek Rączka could also be gone. At the meeting, they could announce the search for a new head coach.

Ted Nolan came to Poland with a successful background, but couldn’t find that success with the national team. At the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge, Poland went 0-3 and looked bad. At the World Championships, Poland went 1-4 and was demoted to Division 1B. You could put the blame on injuries, poor roster choices, the talent just not being there, or his style being too much of a challenge. The results were not there and after the tournament, Nolan angered many in the Polish hockey community with comments saying Polish training methods are similar to ones used in the 60s. There were other controversies that surrounded Nolan in his short time and despite only being year one, you could see the writing on the wall if you looked hard enough.

Coolen was Ted Nolan’s right-hand man in Poland. It is easy to see that if Nolan went then Coolen would. Coolen spent the year coaching GKS Katowice. It is not known if he is returning to that role now, but I would guess that is unlikely. In his lone season as head coach, Coolen lead Katowice to the finals where they lose to GKS Tychy.

A Perfect Storm of Disaster. 5 Thoughts 2018 Men’s World Championships

In Ted Nolan We Trust? My meme that has become a legitimate question. A question, where I still think the answer is honestly yes. The problems in Poland are bigger than just on the ice. We all know the problems. Who will fix them?

The Nolan Influence

There were at points during the World Championship, where I did see the Ted Nolan style from Poland and it was effective. The North American physical style works in division 1A look no further than Great Britain, who play a game very similar to North America and were promoted. This forechecking team was honestly really fun to watch at points and they dominated the ice when they did. They’re of lesser talent, but when the team was firing on all cylinders of the Ted Nolan engine you would think Poland was the more talented team. This team didn’t stay consistent like that, in fact, a majority of the time they were no were close to it.

Everyone Was Basically Hurt

Injuries played a big part in Poland’s lack of talent and poor play. Maciej Kruczek, Patryk Wronka, Bartosz Dabowski, Grzegorz Pasiut, Kasper Bryniczka, and Jan Steber all missed the tournaments due to injuries. Wronka and Pasiut are top 5 forwards for Poland, Wronka is number 1. Losing them was devastating for the team. Michael Cichy and Adam Borzecki that didn’t play due to retirement and personal reasons. While I have been critical of Cichy’s play with the national team, the potential is there. He dominates the PHL and was an NHL draft pick for a reason. Then even at Borzecki’s 39-year-old season, he was still an effective defenseman. His retirement leaves Pawel Dronia as the lone Polish defensemen playing outside of Poland in a higher league.

Taking a Pass on Pas

Here is the thing that I do think Ted Nolan more than deserves criticism for; his roster choices. First, the initial roster choices come out and I’m not really happy with them. Nolan talks a cultural change, but he brings no change to the table. You could make an argument there is more young talent for Poland to test now than any time in the last decade. Ted Nolan only used Łyszczarczyk. Bartosz Fraszko, Radoslaw Sawicki, Dominik Pas, Bartlomiej Jeziorski, Lukasz Krzemien, and Oskar Jaskiewicz were all players, who I felt could have played on team Poland this year. It would have been great for their careers and development. The biggest one that I would say is a gigantic mistake is cutting Dominik Pas. Pas actually got added to the roster late. He played in Poland’s two exhibition games before being cut. Dominik Pas also had 3 assist in those 2 games. How do you want to promote a cultural change and have a focus on youth than cut Pas after his season and performance?

The Legend of Łyszczarczyk Begins

If you want to name the most important player in Poland hockey then it is Łyszczarczyk. The forward made his first World Championship appearance for Poland and he did well. He didn’t get on the score sheet much with one assist, but he had plenty of chances. He was a force in the opposition’s zone and honestly, it made me believe Łyszczarczyk is ready for pro hockey if he chooses too. He can either return to Owen Sound in the OHL for his overage season or turn pro if a team presents an offer.

Division 1B

That is where Poland will play next year. Poland will take on Japan, Estonia, Ukraine, Romania, and the Netherlands. A far cry from their opponents of the last few years. You see countries you could claim are on the decline like Japan and the Ukraine and hockey countries on the rise like Estonia. Poland will have to decide where they are on this scale. The young talent is there, but the cloud of uncertainty and politics around the PZHL places them on the downside.

Small Thoughts

– Chmielewski is great on the ice and off it.

– Both Murray and Odrobny played great. Poland’s goaltending is in more than good hands. Muray’s ability to move the puck is so beneficial.

– At 36 years old, Zapala still has it. 3 goals in 5 games including this one. giphy (6)

– The defense needs to be rebuilt and it was not good. If you want to bring on imports please let them be defensemen.

World Championships Player Availibility Report

Welp, Ted Nolan’s first World Championship appearance for Poland might be a rough one. Yesterday Hokej.net reported that Maciej Kruczek, Patryk Wronka, Damian Tomasik, and Bartosz Dabowski will be out with injuries during the World Championships. Wronka is a huge loss that I do view as unreplaceable. In my roster picks, I also had Tomasik and Kruczek making the team. Three defensemen being out is a hard pill to swallow.  Outside of injuries Alan Lyszczarczyk and Owen Sound Attack appear to be making a pretty deep playoff run. In Germany, both Pawel Dronia’s and Adam Borzecki’s club have continued to advance in the playoffs. They are playing each other as I write this. Poland is guaranteed one will be free, but the other will remain an unknown.

Out for Sure 

Maciej Kruczek (Injured)

Patryk Wronka (Injured)

Bartosz Dabowski (Injured)

Michael  Cichy (Personal Reasons)

Grzegorz Pasiut  (Injured)

Kasper Bryniczka (Injured)

Jan Steber (Injured)

Possibly Out

Adam Borzecki (Playoffs)

Aron Chmielewski (Playoffs)

Added to the Team

Oskar Jaśkiewicz

Mateusz Michalski

Kacper Guzik

Dominik Pas

Update 4/18/18. 8:49 PM. Per Hokej.net. Jan Steber was hurt in the pre-championship game against Japan. Lyszczarczyk’s season ended last night and he will join the team. 

Update 4/14/18. 2:50 PM. Per Hokej.net The injury Bryniczka suffered in an exhibition game against Ukraine is serious and he will miss the World Championships. 

Update 4/14/18. 3:43 PM. Per Hokej.net, Grzegorz Pasiut will not be available for Poland. 

Update 4/13/18. 7:44 PM. As Reported by Hokej.net, Damian Tomasik will not undergo hand surgery and is available for Poland. 

Update 4/9/18. 3:28 PM. Mateusz Michalski and Kacper Guzik have been added to the team. 

Update 4/8/18 5:46 PM. Borzecki’s Steelers eliminated Dronia and Frankfurt. Dronia will be available for the team while this really hurt Borzecki’s chances. Chmielewski scored for HC Oceláři Třinec to help send them to the finals. Game 1 is on the 14th and could go as long as 26th. Chances are very slim for Chmielewski. Lyszczarczyk and Owen Sound are tied 1-1 with the Greyhound in the 2nd Round of the OHL Playoffs. The earliest it could end would be April 13th. 

Update 4/7/18 12:46 PM. Michael Cichy has left Poland and returned to the USA for personal reasons. 

Update 4/6/18 5:27 PM. Bietigheim Steelers (Borzecki) defeat  Löwen Frankfurt (Dronia) 5-2. Steelers take a 3-2 series lead. 

Update 4/6/18 3:14 PM. Grzegorz Pasiut could also miss with Injury.

Ted Nolan Will Rely On Veterans at the World Championship.

When Ted Nolan released “his” list of 36 for the upcoming World Championships, I was disappointed by a lack of youth. In total there are 4 players under the age of 25. This includes both Patryk Wronka (22) and Alan Lyszczarczyk (20), who are locks to the make the final squad. The other two are Damian Tomasik (23) and Michal Kieler (22). Kieler has no chance of making the team as Poland’s goalie race is a 4 horse race. Despite having no chance of cracking the roster, this will be a valuable experience for him. Tomasik’s chances of making the team are pretty slim. Overall I would expect Wronka and Lyszczarczyk to be the only players under 25 on team Poland.

Now if there were no young players who deserved their shots, I would understand Poland taking veterans, but there were plenty of interesting options. Playing in Poland; Bartosz Fraszko, Radoslaw Sawicki, Dominik Pas, Bartlomiej Jeziorski, Lukasz Krzemien, and Oskar Jaskiewicz all had great seasons and outproduced some of the veterans picked over them. Pas and Jeziorski were a part of the best line in Poland’s World Juniors division. We wrote about why they should make team Poland here. Sawicki, Krzemien, and Jaskiewicz were on the entry list last year when Platcha was coaching Poland. These players have to get their shots when they’re outproducing veterans. Outside of Poland, one player I would argue for sure is Noureddine Bettahar. Bettahar is signed to a DEL team but was loaned to EC Bad Nauheim of the DEL2. He did have some struggles this year with only 13 points in 42 games.  He played 27 games in the DEL last year picking up 1 assist and also had 7 points in 8 DEL2 games. Bettahar was also appointed to the team last year, but due to some German contract rules could not play. Last year, Bettahar said he eligible this year to hokej.net. That could have also changed with his demotion to the DEL2, but I have yet to hear anything like that.

I have to ask what is Ted Nolan doing in regards to the youth. It really feels like Poland is going backward in promoting them. It was something Ted Nolan talked a lot about when he first got the job. This really is not a critique, more I was hoping for a different approach. I’m going into this thinking more long term. Not saying Ted Nolan doesn’t have a long-term vision, but he may think in the short term this is his best rosters and relying on veterans is better. Nolan does like to ice a defensive physical team and the veterans will perform better in it. Especially if young offensive players cannot take on a top 6 role they will be reduced to little impact in a checking role. If Ted Nolan gets results, who am I to judge.

Ted Nolan Names 36 Players to the National Team. We Make Our Picks.

April is just around the corner and with that comes the biggest event of the year for the Polish National team. The World Championships in Budapest have fans divided some are believing in Ted Nolan, while others have their doubts. We now have his first World Championship entry list though, and let us dive in.

Goalies

Przemysław Odrobny, John Murray, Rafal Radziszewski, Ondrej Raszka, and Michal Kieler.

There are no surprises here. There are four players who could tend the net for Poland in goal with my choice being Odrobny and John Murray. Of note, John Muray appears to have received his citizenship and can now officially play for Poland.  I like Michal Kieler getting some reps with the national team. He has had a good year for Orlik Opole and at 22, he is very young and could be a key player for Poland down the road.

Defensemen

Adam Borzecki, Mateusz Bryk, Bartosz Ciura, Bartosz Dadbowski, Pawel Dronia, Kamil Gorny, Maciej Kruczek, Bartlomeij Pociecha, Mateusz Rompkowski,  Damian Tomasik, Patryk Wajda, and Jakub Wanacki.

I blasted Poland’s defense at the EHIC in February. The lone defender not to return from that EHIC was Oskar Jaśkiewicz, who was not the problem. DEL2 defensemen Borzecki and Dronia both get named, but their inclusion on the team more comes down to if their season is over. Tomasik is getting a well-deserved chance. If I had to pick 7 I would go

Dronia – Pociecha

Kruczek – Wajda

Rompkowski – Borzecki

Tomasik

Forwards

Mateusz Bepierszcz, Aron Chmielewski, Michael Cichy, Krystian Dziubiński, Radoslaw Galant, Kamil Kalinowski, Damian Kapica, Filip Komorski, Marcin Kolusz, Mikolaj Lopuski, Alan Lyszczarczyk, Tomasz Malasinski, Bartłomiej Neupauer, Grzegorz Pasiut, Jan Steber, Maciej Urbanowicz, Jakub Witecki, Patryk Wronka, and Krzysztof Zapala.

The forward group is what you would expect too. Which disappoints me as I thought there some interesting possibilities. Players like Dominik Pas, Bartłomiej Jeziorski, Filip Starzynski, and Noureddine Bettahar to name a few. Also to note, Alex Szczechura has not received his citizenship and cannot play for Poland. Cichy returns and he should, but I can’t lie I’m not sure how many more chances he should get. For my 13 I go.

Malasinski – Wronka – Chmielewski

Lyszczarczyk – Pasiut – Kapica

Dziubiński – Cichy – Lopuski

Zapala – Kolusz – Urbanowicz

Kalinowski

Overall not much as changed from last year and nor did I expect much to change. I did want Ted Nolan to make some changes though and give younger players more chances. That really doesn’t appear to be happening this year at least. It is year one though and in Ted Nolan We Trust.

Lyszczarczyk, Jeziorski, and Pas Should Be At The World Championships.

At the World Juniors, Lyszczarczyk, Jeziorski, and Pas formed the most dominant line there. The trio combined for 33 points, they were responsible for 15 of Poland’s 23 goals. The trio also put up 73 shots on opposing goalies. Overall they tore up the World Juniors. I believe the line could also have an impact at the World Championships.

Chemistry

Despite, the three all playing on separate teams, there is a undeniable chemistry between them. No matter at the U18s or U20s, the three has terrorized opposing goalies and defenses. The 3 would be a breath of fresh air into the national team. The speed and skill they have would fit well with the likes of Wronka, Kapica, and Chmielewski. Poland would come to the World Championships with their fastest and most skilled team in a long time. I’m not saying making them the top line, but as a middle 9 or even a 4th line, they would be solid. It’s not just the line either, each one of these players deserves to make the team in their own right.

They’re Ready

Dominik Pas is setting junior scoring records in the PHL. You can read more about his great season here. Pas had 23 points in 40 PHL game as an 18-year-old. His point total ranks above a few national team forwards. He also has been complimented on his defensive play and compete level.

Bartlomiej Jeziorski is the best player under 20 playing in Poland. Like Pas, Jeziorski is scoring at a better rate compared to other national forwards. He has 23 points in 31 games. Jeziorski was also able to get a game with the national team this year. There is no doubt Jeziorski will have a long career with the national team. It is time to start it this year.

Alan Lyszczarczyk will make his senior IIHF debut at this year at the World Championships, if not I’ll run Ted Nolan out of Poland faster than Buffalo did when Babcock became a free agent. Lyszczarczyk should have been on the team the past 2 years and I will die on that hill. This year for Owen Sound, Lyszczarczyk is on pace for a career-high season in goals and shots. If you’re not convinced watch this.

giphy (1)

Great Exposure

Unlike being an online artist, exposure is actually useful for hockey players. Pas, Jeziorski, and even Lyszczarczyk will need to move on to better hockey leagues for their careers to advance. The World Championships are a great place to showcase them. Last year, Wronka was able to use his great World Championships performance into a deal with Orli Znojmo of the Erste Bank Hockey League.  Lyszczarczyk will most likely be able to turn his OHL career into a good deal, but Pas and Jeziorski will need more help. The move would help the team now and in the future. If they fail, which I doubt, are you really any worse off?

 

5 Dream Imports for Team Poland

Coming to HBO this summer is Game of Imports the story of countries in Division 1 Group A at the World Championships, trying to load up on Americans and Canadiens mostly to play one year in the top division. With that Ted Nolan has said he plans to bring more imports to the team and already added Jan Steber. Today lets take a look at some of my dream imports for Poland. The only rule, they must have Polish heritage. I feel I need to stress I have no inside information these are just dreams none of them are rumored or interested as far as I know.

Patrick Wiercioch 

Wiercoich is a great two-way defenseman with some strong underlying numbers. This season he has been a staple of the Utica Comets in the AHL after not making the Vancouver Canucks out of training camp. He would require 4 years of playing in Poland, due playing for Canada at the World Championships. If you want the perfect import then Wiercoich is it. Also, we already have the jersey printed out so lets make it happen.

weir.png

Matt Bartkowski

If any Bruins, Canucks, or Flames fan read this, they’ll probably laugh at the idea of a team desiring Bartkowski. In Vancouver, he got a rough deal from the coach making him unpopular among fans who wanted younger players. The same can be said in Calgary. He would be Poland’s best defense by a long shot. The Ohio State product’s time in the NHL is coming to an end. Last season he played most of the year on an AHL contract and finally signing with the Flames on a deal that might have been more for the NHL expansion draft. Bartkowski also has never represented the USA at any IIHF event so it would take him two seasons for him to play for Poland. He turns 30 before next year so he could play quite a few seasons for Poland.

Jamie Oleksiak

Oleksiak is a giant at 6’7. The defenseman currently plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins after being acquired from the Dallas Stars. He is a stay at home physical defenseman, who would fit perfectly in Ted Nolan’s system. He has also represented both the USA and Canada nationally so would adding a third country really be that much of a problem? His past IIHF experience would require four years in Poland, but at only 25, he would give Poland some long-term help.

Shawn Szydlowski

Szydlowski is a dynamic offensive player and currently leads the ECHL in points. In 258 ECHL games,  he has 305 points. He would also only require two years in Poland. I’m honestly curious what his PHL point totals would be. They would break Cichy’s record for sure. He also already seems comfortable playing with an Eagle on his chest.

SS

Ryan Kujawinski

Kujawinski was a former 3rd round pick of the New Jersey Devils. Since he has turned pro, he has struggled to produce. This season the Devils also traded him to the Arizona Coyotes. His struggle has worsened with the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate. He still shows a lot of potential though. Kujawinski comes from a Polish father. He is also the one I would view that has the highest chance of playing for Poland. It would only take two seasons in the PHL. He is also only 22 and would become a staple of the national team for a long time.

Honorable Mention

Wojtek Wolski. The 2018 Olympics eliminated the .0001% chance. Congrats to him on making Team Canada and making Poland proud.

5 Thoughts. A Rough Warm Up. EIHC February 2018

If you’re looking for a reason for why Poland might get promoted at this year’s World Championships than the EIHC wasn’t it.

Throwaway the Defense

It was like a hot knife through butter. Against opponents missing some their top players the Polish defense was ineffective. Forwards were just walking right through the Polish defenders. Breakouts were not existent. It wasn’t just the defensemen, the forwards seemed lost in their own zone too. If you want to win at the World Championships this will need to be fixed.

 

giphy-downsized-large

The Goalies are Alright

Behind a defense that left them out to dry all 3 goalies gave great performances. Murray demonstrated some great ability to move the puck. It really made Poland a more efficient team. Overall Ted Nolan will have a hard choice of who to start at the World Championships.  If I had to rank them.

  1. Murray
  2. Odrobny
  3. Radziszewski
  4. Raszka

Powerplay Problems 

The power play struggled. So many chances on the powerplay and only a couple of goals to show for it. You would hope the powerplay gets better when some key Polish forwards return for the Worlds, but with players like Wronka, Malasinski, and Kapica in the line up it should have performed better. The power play struggled to set up plays up eventually settling for a low percentage shot.

Is Cichy Working Out?

I was a huge fan of Cichy joining the national team as an import. Cichy has dominated the PHL and is one of the best players in the league. The offensive center only has 4 points in 15 international games and some really poor defensive play at times. I still want to see him at the Worlds, but I’m starting question if he can provide the impact imports have for other countries

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Warmed Up for the Worlds

This tournament was a warm-up for the World Championships. They were missing some players and trying out some others. Kapica also mentioned the team was still learning Ted Nolan’s style. There is no reason to panic at the result of this tournament, but it did help expose some holes in the current roster. More experience in Ted Nolan’s system will also be key for the World Championships.

Small Thoughts

-Wronka is amazing and I’m so happy he plays for Poland

– Kapica is going to be a key player for Poland at the World Championships. The 25-year-old keeps getting better and he had an amazing EIHC.

-At 36 years old, Zapala is winning his battle against time. He played great defensively, especially against Hungary, where he probably saved a couple of goals.

-Ciura had a really tough tournament. On a bad defense, he was one of the worst if not the worst. On this play, he lets the Kazaksthan forward screen the goalie and then the forward still has enough time to bang in the rebound. He needs to pressure that guy

 

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