Category: Mens Prospects

2020 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #20-16

This year was a pivotal year for Polish hockey. For many players that frequented the list last year or in the years past it was onto full-time professional hockey in Poland or testing their skills in another countries highest junior league, while plenty of players arose to challenge and cemented themselves as future pillars of the national team plenty of players couldn’t live up to their expectations causing drastic changes to the rankings.

This is not the time I wanted to start the list, as the World Championship and U18 World Championship are a great way for players to improve their stock, the U18 World Championship being the first significant exposure for a lot of players. Due to the coronavirus, there are no more tournaments, and hockey is done for the year. Polish hockey itself faces an uncertain future as the virus will leave a lasting effect for years to come.

The real world is a very dark and scary place right now, but I want to look forward to the future while stuck at home. The future of the Polish national team is something that fans should be excited about. I have maintained for years that Poland has more young talent right now then it did any other time this century. I still stand by that opinion today. Poland saw their ace prospect prove himself in professional North American hockey, another NHL draft prospect rise, and a vast increase in depth. Today we start our ranking of the top 50 Men’s U23 players in Poland.

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on March 27th, 2020. Players are judged based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. While a majority of the ranking is my own opinion, numerous people in the Polish hockey world contributed their thoughts on players. 140 players were considered for the list and scouted. 80 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 scouting report.

Players 50-41

Players 40-31

Players 30-21

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2019, change in ranking

20 – Jakub Blanik (F), 19, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (39, +19)

Blanik took a gamble on himself this offseason when he left JKH GKS Jastrzebie for Zaglebie Sosnowiec in the hope for more chances. JKH GKS Jastrzebie deserves some credit for allowing such a strong junior player to leave as it was best for their development. People in Poland always rave about how hard of a worker that he is. That is what you see on the ice as well. At 5’7 and only 146 lbs, his size will always be his most significant obstacle. But he has tons of playmaking ability. Without a doubt, he probably sets his teammates up as well as any Polish prospect. Blanik was able to play in 30 PHL games this year between PZHL U23 and Zaglebie Sosnowiec, a majority with Zaglebie Sosnowiec. In his 17 games with Zaglebie Sosnowiec, he posted seven points (1-6-7). He was held pointless in 13 games with PZHL U23. He represented Poland at the U20 World Championships, posting one goal and three assists in five games. Blanik also got 19 games in the MHL recording 47 points (12-35-47).

Blanik

19 – Maciej Witan (F), 19, KH 58 Sanok, (15, -4)

Witan is pretty similar to Blanik in a lot of ways, but Witan edges him out in most categories. He is an inch taller than Blanik, and his offensive skills are more well rounded. Witan has a shot that can be lethal, along with being able to make it easy for his teammates with crisp passes, and not to mention a nice set of hands. Witan has stayed a part of Sanok’s team for the past three seasons. This year he recorded 14 points (2-12-14) in 17 games with Sanok. He also posted 44 points (16-28-44) in 18 MHL games, along with five points (3-2-5) in six games for PZHL U23. Given his performance with PZHL U23, I hope to see him getting some more meaningful reps next season. Witan will also be returning to the U20 World Championship squad after a six-point (1-5-6) performance in five games this season. He did fall this year because of the strength of other PHL performances, I also would have liked to see his production in the Slovakia third league reach the heights of his first year, where he recorded 21 points (6-15-21) in 21 games.

Witan

18 – Jan Sołtys (F), 20, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, (2, -16)

There is no player that I feel has a better all-around game than Sołtys. He can do it all, he is excellent at both ends of the ice. He will always be hounding the puck and making his presence felt on the ice. It legit almost makes me sad to have him drop in the rankings by so much. This was kinda a lost season for Sołtys as the talented forward had to undergo knee surgery in November. This is a massive disappointment for the Jastrzebie native as he was scheduled to have a much more significant role in the club this year. His season started off strong in exhibition games versus foreign clubs. He did appear in 16 games for JKH GKS Jastrzebie, posting five points (2-3-5). The 5’11 forward did go pointless in five games at the Visegrad Cup, I was hoping the tournament would have been a nice showcase for him. His PHL production was also down compared to the previous year. Losing such a significant development year will be rough for Sołtys, but he is already so talented that he should have no problem bouncing back.

Soltys

17 – Grzegorz Radzieńciak (D), 22, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, (20, +3)

Radzieńciak continues to grow into a stronger and stronger defenseman each year. He continues to gain more confidence and better awareness. This year he was even able to jump into the offensive play a bit more and show his offensive traits. The 5’11 defenseman cemented himself as part of the Jastrzebie defense playing in 44 games. In those games, he recorded six points. He also posted both a goal and assist in eight Visegrad Cup games, his first goal at the senior level. In the MHL, he also recorded five points (2-3-5) in four games. The Lublin native really has all the traits to make him not just a solid professional player, but a defenseman that will be able to make an impact on the international stage. I have no doubt that Radzieńciak will continue to improve and become more confident in his play. He got in some national team games last season, and there should be more to come.

Radzieńciak

16 – Olaf Bizacki (D), 21, GKS Tychy, (23, +7)

Bizacki continues to rise up the ranks for Polish defensemen. At 5’7 he can be a bit small for his play at times, but his short stature never stops him from playing an aggressive two-way game. He definitely appeared more confident in the league this season, and that is not surprising given he is now a veteran of almost 150 PHL games and having played in the league since he was 17. This year though, he played primary with GKS Tychy, notching ten points (3-7-10) in 43 games. He also played six games with PZHL U23, where he picked up another assist. His 11 points this year were a career-high, and he only had nine career PHL points coming into this season. The Tychy native recorded one assist in two Champions Hockey League games as well. If Bizacki continues to improve like he has at both ends of the ice, the national team will no doubt follow.

Bizacki

Players 15-13

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

2020 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #30-21

This year was a pivotal year for Polish hockey. For many players that frequented the list last year or in the years past it was onto full-time professional hockey in Poland or testing their skills in another countries highest junior league, while plenty of players arose to challenge and cemented themselves as future pillars of the national team plenty of players couldn’t live up to their expectations causing drastic changes to the rankings.

This is not the time I wanted to start the list, as the World Championship and U18 World Championship are a great way for players to improve their stock, the U18 World Championship being the first significant exposure for a lot of players. Due to the coronavirus, there are no more tournaments, and hockey is done for the year. Polish hockey itself faces an uncertain future as the virus will leave a lasting effect for years to come.

The real world is a very dark and scary place right now, but I want to look forward to the future while stuck at home. The future of the Polish national team is something that fans should be excited about. I have maintained for years that Poland has more young talent right now then it did any other time this century. I still stand by that opinion today. Poland saw their ace prospect prove himself in professional North American hockey, another NHL draft prospect rise, and a vast increase in depth. Today we start our ranking of the top 50 Men’s U23 players in Poland.

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on March 27th, 2020. Players are judged based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. While a majority of the ranking is my own opinion, numerous people in the Polish hockey world contributed their thoughts on players. 140 players were considered for the list and scouted. 80 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 scouting report.

Players 50-41

Players 40-31

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2019, change in ranking)

30 – Michał Cychowski (F), 17, Krefelder EV 1981 U17, (57, +27)

Cychowski moves into the top 50 after a fantastic year in the Krefelder system, Krefelder is pretty much the primary home of Polish players in Germany. Cychowski came into this year and smashed his marks from last year. In 32 games, he recorded 46 points (21-25-46) in 32 games. His 46 points were 16th overall in the top German U17 league. He also got his chance with Krefelder’s DNL U20 team, where he recorded one assist in four games. Cychowski represented Poland at a few non-IIHF U18 events. It will be interesting to see his development over the coming years.

29 – Fabian Kapica (F), 18, EV Landshut U20, (29, 0)

Kapica began his journey dominating the German junior leagues after moving over from Poland. He kept moving up the German junior system, and this year he reached the top at just 17-years-old. In the top German junior league, he posted four points (1-3-4) in 18 games. Though his play continued to improve as he got more comfortable, he lost his spot in the line up to an older player. He then returned to Poland for a couple games with Podhale. He recorded five points (1-4-5) in nine games at the U20 level and six points (2-4-6) in three U18 games. Kapica did sign a professional deal with Podhale but never appeared with the team in the PHL. Kapica is young and very talented, but his growth hasn’t been as fast as one would have expected based on his earlier career.

28 – Mateusz Ubowski (F), 19, MOSM Tychy, (63, +35)

Ubowski was really one of the players who thrived in the new MHL system. The 6’1 forward racked up 54 points (16-38-54) in 29 games. His 48 regular season points were tied for third in the league overall and tied for the most among all U20 players. This was able to impress the GKS Tychy higher-ups.

The Tychy native played in 21 PHL games, 18 of them PZHL U23. He recorded five points (1-4-5), two assists coming with GKS Tychy. Since the 2010 PHL season, GKS Tychy has only had 11 U20 skaters play a game. While Ubowski didn’t get a long run, him getting any kind of run shows the potential GKS Tychy see in him. He also earned a spot on the Polish U20 squad, where he recorded one assist.

27 -Miłosz Noworyta (D), 21, Unia Oswiecim, (41, +14)

Noworyta established himself as a full-time PHL defenseman this year for a really skilled Oswiecim team. He is a brilliant stay at home defenseman with outstanding awareness, there is really no offensive side to his game, and he can be a bit undersized for the role he plays. Noworyta provides a lot of value on the penalty kill as well. Nik Zupančič, the head coach of Unia Oswiecim, spoke highly of Noworyta to hokej.net. There are many players who have raised their level this season. One of them is definitely Miłosz, who developed with every match.” He continues to gain more experience and should be a really valuable part of the top 6 for the Polish national team. 

26 – Mateusz Bezwiński (F), 19, Cracovia Krakow, (30, +4)

Bezwiński was one of the numerous young players that fought for ice time in a crowded Krakow lineup. In 24 games, with both Cracovia Krakow and PZHLu23, the 5’10 forward recorded four points (2-2-4). He finished above a point per game in 22 MHL games, along with recording three points (1-2-3) in five games for Poland at the U20 World Championships. He started the season strong but trailed off as the season went on. Part of this may have been due to him having an increased role as Krakow dealt with injuries. When he is on his game, he is a dynamic offensive player. I expect him to be a leader on Poland’s U20 World Championship team next year.

Bezwiński

25 – Michał Naróg (D), 19, Lotos PKH Gdansk, (28, +3)

Michał Naróg earns a slight rise in the rankings after becoming a full-time defenseman with Gdansk in the PHL this season. The 5’8 defensemen recorded four assists in 41 PHL games. He recorded 35 points (17-18-35) in 19 MHL games. He also made the Polish U20 squad, where he recorded one assist in five games along with 13 shots. Narog has so much offensive potential and a rocket of a shot. His real test is going to be if he can produce and get off shots like he does at the junior level. Senior players are smarter and won’t allow for so many clear lanes. His defensive side also will need to continue to evolve, but his ceiling is very high.

24 – Mateusz Gościński (LW), 23, GKS Tychy, (12, -12)

Gościński was one of the fastest rising players in Polish hockey. It seemed like he was about to become a staple of Poland’s top six for years to come. He recorded 24 points (11-13-24) in 58 games, and then had three points (1-2-3) in five games at the senior World Championships. I was really enamored with his play, he was always very aggressive towards the puck and showed great forechecking ability. He especially excels down low in the zone. This year though, the PHL got better, and he faced a slight role reduction. His production went down quickly by recording eight points (3-5-8) in 40 games. Gościński will still most likely develop into a solid player for Poland, but his game will have to rise to another level if he wants to lockdown that top-six spot.

Gościński

23 – Ernest Bochnak (F), 20, HC ISMM Koprivnice, (17, -6)

Bochnak appeared to have a brighter future than anyone else in Polish hockey when he made his first IIHF team at the age of 15 and posted four points (1-3-4) in five U18 World Championship games. That was also the last time he represented Poland at an IIHF event. His career took quite a rollercoaster-like ride after that year. His production didn’t spike in the Czech junior leagues like many thought it would. Then in 2018, he moved to the Finnish junior system for part of the year before finishing the year back in the Czech Republic with AZ Havirov U19. He returned to the Czech Republic for this year but turned professional.

Bochnak played a majority of the year with HC ISMM Koprivnice in the Czech third league, posting six points (2-4-6) in 22 games. This was tied for 13th among U20 players in the league. He also recorded 11 points (4-7-11) in 10 games for AZ Havirov’s U20 team, along with one assist in three games for PZHL U23. I’m still a big believer in Bochnak’s ability, but his game is missing something. His all-around game is better than most Polish players, but he just isn’t at that level to be considered an exceptional talent yet.

22 – Michał Bernacki (F), 22, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (37, +15)

One of the big things I was looking at for young players in the PHL this year, as the league quality improved, was for them to at least retain their production from the previous year. Bernacki was able to build on his production last year, which is a great sign. He had 21 points (6-15-21) in 49 games. The 6’3 forward posses a lot of great offensive attributes with substantial size to supplement his down-low game as well. He is very talented, and his production is nice to see especially considering for most of the year Zaglebie Sosnowiec didn’t have that healthy of offense and still finished second to last in goals for during the 2019-20 season. Bernacki should continue to grow into one of the top forwards in the PHL.

Bernacki

21 – Krzysztof Bukowski (F), 18, CP de Meyrin, (35, +14)

Bukowski started this year off with a bit of a puzzling decision when he chose to remain with CP de Meyrin. Meyrin plays in the very low divisions of Switzerlands for both junior and senior-level hockey. Bukowski, who had attracted interest and played for Genève-Servette junior team, Geneve-Servette’s senior team plays in the National League. Many believed that Bukowski would move to a more prominent club. Bukowski stayed with Meyrin though, and his older brother Jakub Bukowski also joined the club.

Bukowski posted 30 points (13-17-30) in 17 games in the Swiss U20-A league, the third level of U20 hockey in the country. He also played for Meyrin in the senior amateur league, 2. Amateur Regio League, as well. There he posted 17 points (14-3-17) in 19 games. The 5’10 forward also jumped a U20 level to play with Chaux-de-Fonds U20 in the U20-Top recording one assist in three games. Bukowski was also a constant presence on both Polish U18 and U20 teams for various events, though he was left off the U20 team roster. Bukowski is an immensely talented forward, but I do fear what playing in such low leagues will do for his overall development. He has the ability to play in higher leagues, and I would love to see how he does with that challenge.

Players 20-16

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

 

2020 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #40-31

This year was a pivotal year for Polish hockey. For many players that frequented the list last year or in the years past it was onto full-time professional hockey in Poland or testing their skills in another countries highest junior league, while plenty of players arose to challenge and cemented themselves as future pillars of the national team plenty of players couldn’t live up to their expectations causing drastic changes to the rankings.

This is not the time I wanted to start the list, as the World Championship and U18 World Championship are a great way for players to improve their stock, the U18 World Championship being the first significant exposure for a lot of players. Due to the coronavirus, there are no more tournaments, and hockey is done for the year. Polish hockey itself faces an uncertain future as the virus will leave a lasting effect for years to come.

The real world is a very dark and scary place right now, but I want to look forward to the future while stuck at home. The future of the Polish national team is something that fans should be excited about. I have maintained for years that Poland has more young talent right now then it did any other time this century. I still stand by that opinion today. Poland saw their ace prospect prove himself in professional North American hockey, another NHL draft prospect rise, and a vast increase in depth. Today we start our ranking of the top 50 Men’s U23 players in Poland.

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on March 27th, 2020. Players are judged based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. While a majority of the ranking is my own opinion, numerous people in the Polish hockey world contributed their thoughts on players. 140 players were considered for the list and scouted. 80 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 scouting report.

Players 50-41

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2019, change in ranking)

40 – Szymon Mularczyk (F), 21, KH GKS Katowice, (61, +21)

Mularczyk was able to escape a terrible season with Polonia Bytom and come out strong with GKS Katowice. The 5’11 forward has always seemingly been on the cusp of being a really promising player. He is the first player on this list to suffer from Janow’s effect on PHL scoring. Janow was so bad this year that players were able to post new career highs thanks to a couple games against Janow. This year Mularczyk posted 14 points (4-10-14) in 40 games, up from his total of nine points last year. He posted five of those points against Janow. Which without them is the same as his nine points from last year. It creates a muddy area of how much growth did he really have statistically? It was still twelfth in points among all PHL U23 skaters.

Mularczyk

39 – Marcin Płachetka (F), 19, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, (26, -13)

Płachetka earned a very high ranking last year due to a fantastic international performance. I was expecting big things out of him this year, but it was a pretty quiet club season. He was able to play in 13 PHL games, twelve with PZHL U23 and one with JKH GKS Jastrzebie, where he recorded a single assist. In the MHL, he didn’t produce much better with five points (2-3-5) in 11 games. He did have nine points (3-6-9) in eight games while appearing for the Polish U18 squad that plays in the third tier Czech U20 league. He received some U20 team consideration and scored versus Lithuania at a four nations U20 tournament.

38 – Bartosz Florczak (D), 18, UKS Sanok, (55, +17)

Florczak would have really shown his two-way abilities off at the U18s if he had the chance. He has a lot of talent but is still very raw at times. His development time will probably be a bit uneasy compared to other defenders, but you really have the makings of a good player. He got an extended look for the U20 World Championship squad, and even I had him on the squad as a seventh defenseman. In total this year, he posted two assists in nine games for PZHL U23. Well above a point per game at the U18 level, and nine points (3-6-9) in 13 MHL games for Sanok.

Florczak

37 – Łukasz Kamiński (F), 21, Cracovia Krakow, (18, -19)

Kamiński really excelled in the PHL last year as a 19-year-old recording 17 points (9-8-17) in 47 games. The league took a step up this year, and Kamiński didn’t step up with it. This year he recorded four points (1-3-4) in 41 games. He found himself mostly relegated to the fourth line. He needs to play, and if Krakow isn’t going to give him a more substantial chance, it might be time to take a similar route to Jakub Blanik, who left JKH GKS Jastrzebie for Zaglebie Sosnowiec. He has a really nice offensive game, and I don’t understand why Cracovia didn’t try to use it more.

Kamiński

36 – Karol Biłas (D), 18, UKS Sanok, (Unranked)

From one talented Sanok two way defensemen to another. It really is astounding how quickly Sanok has started producing excellent youth talent with no PHL club. I think that Slovakia’s third tier league is an excellent place for young talent, and you’ll see more Sanok players on this list because of that. It lets young players play against men, but not be overwhelmed, and the stakes a lower, allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them. Something that defensemen like Biłas desperately need to do to grow.

Biłas

Biłas needs more work on the defensive end but has really shown a jaw-dropping offensive game. He is a lot like Florczak in being a little raw on both ends, but I like his offensive side more. No matter where he went, the 5’11 defensemen put up numbers, 20 points in (4-16-12) 19 MHL games, 14 points (4-10-14) in eight U18 games, seven assist in 15 Slovakia3 games, and both a goal and assist in ten PZHL u23 games. This earned him a spot on the Polish U20 team for the U20 World Championships, where he scored one goal on six shots in five games.  I have to imagine he would have put up some outrageous numbers for a defenseman at the U18s. I believe Biłas will be quickly rising up this list for years to come.

35 – Patryk Pelaczyk (F), 22, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, (46, +11)

At 6’5, Pelaczyk stands as the tallest Polish forward in the entire PHL. He continues to learn how to use his size more to his advantage. In 45 games, he recorded 11 points (5-6-11). This year he was able to play a majority of the season with JKH GKS Jastrzebie, he assisted them to a winning the Visegrad Cup with one goal in six games. The big forward is earning his spot on an extremely competitive Jastrzebie roster. His size will always provide value to any team, but he is starting to bring so much more.

Pelaczyk

34 – Jan Krzyżek (F), 19, MOSM Tychy, (44, +10

Krzyżek is really developing as a solid all-around player. He has solid offensive instincts, solid shot, good forechecking, and great size at 6’3. The Aachen native has played in the Tychy system his entire career but has not been able to reach with PHL with GKS Tychy yet. This season he appeared in 18 PHL games for PZHL u23, recording three goals. In the Czech U20 third league, he recorded 12 points (7-5-12) in 8 games for Poland U18. In the MHL, he recorded 30 points (15-15-30) in 15 games for Mosm Tychy. Krzyżek represented Poland this year at the U20 World Championship, recording three assists in five games. He should be one of the key forwards on the team next year.

33 – Karol Sterbenz (F), 17, Okanagan HC Europe U20, (Unranked)

This year there were quite a few Polish players that joined Austrian junior leagues. Olaf Koslicki stayed with the Vienna Capitals, while Karol Sterbenz and Leon Zacharewicz joined the Okanagan HC program. European Okanagan HC has multiple teams that compete in top Austrian junior leagues. The teams are made up of mainly international players from all over Europe, including the highest newly ranked player on this year’s list.

As a 16-year-old, Sterbenz split the year between Okanagan’s U18 and their U20 team. At the U18 level, he recorded 22 points (8-14-22) in 21 games. While at the U20 level, he posted 14 points (6-8-14) in 24 games. This ranked thirty-second in the league, and eleventh among players under 18. Sterbenz represented Poland earlier this year at a U18 and U17 tournament. He would have most likely made his IIHF debut for Poland at the U18s.

32 – Konrad Filipek (F), 20, UKS Sanok, (68, +36)

Filipek makes a massive jump on the list after a fantastic year with Sanok. The explosive forward improved on his 18 point performance last year with 25 points (11-14-15) in 19 games. This was 39th in the Slovakia third league and the most by any U20 player in the league. He also proved he was too good for Poland’s MHL by recording 61 points (30-31-61) in 20 games, an average of just over three points per game. He also appeared in six games for PZHL U23 recording one assist. I really hope to see Filipek get some more significant chances next year, as he was so offensively dominant at the lower levels, and did fine with three points (2-1-3) in five games at the U20 World Championship.

31 – Sebastian Lipiński (G), 20, Unia Oswiecim, (19, -12)

Lipiński is the highest-ranked goalie on the list but had somewhat of a down year compared to expectations. After a very promising appearance at the previous U20 World Championship, Lipiński struggled mightily recording a .819 SV% in four games. The worst among goalies that played at least 40% of their team’s minutes. In the PHL, Lipiński split the year between Unia Oswiecim and PZHL U23. In 18 total games, he posted a .876 sv%.

Lipinski

With Oswiecim, the Torun native played in 11 games, starting 10 and coming in relief in one. In total, he posted a .897 SV%, including three shutouts, two versus Janow, and one versus PZHL U23. His save percentage drops to a .871 without the games versus Janow and PZHL U23. His save percentage was .858 with PZHL U23. While the numbers may not look great, Lipiński is really the only goalie that gets the chances that he does, because of his talent. Since 2000, there have only been 15 seasons, where a U20 goalie played 10 or more games in the PHL, two of those belong to Lipiński.

Players 31-20

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

2020 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #50-41

This year was a pivotal year for Polish hockey. For many players that frequented the list last year or in the years past it was onto full-time professional hockey in Poland or testing their skills in another countries highest junior league, while plenty of players arose to challenge and cemented themselves as future pillars of the national team plenty of players couldn’t live up to their expectations causing drastic changes to the rankings.

This is not the time I wanted to start the list, as the World Championship and U18 World Championship are a great way for players to improve their stock, the U18 World Championship being the first significant exposure for a lot of players. Due to the coronavirus, there are no more tournaments, and hockey is done for the year. Polish hockey itself faces an uncertain future as the virus will leave a lasting effect for years to come.

The real world is a very dark and scary place right now, but I want to look forward to the future while stuck at home. The future of the Polish national team is something that fans should be excited about. I have maintained for years that Poland has more young talent right now then it did any other time this century. I still stand by that opinion today. Poland saw their ace prospect prove himself in professional North American hockey, another NHL draft prospect rise, and a vast increase in depth. Today we start our ranking of the top 50 Men’s U23 players in Poland.

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on March 27th, 2020. Players are judged based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. While a majority of the ranking is my own opinion, numerous people in the Polish hockey world contributed their thoughts on players. 140 players were considered for the list and scouted. 80 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 scouting report.

Honorable Mentions (In No Order): Adrian Gromadzki (Not eligible due to age, but would have made top 50 if old enough), Bartosz Woloszyk, Adrian Duszak, Wiktor Bochnak, and Patryk Gosztyla

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2019, change in ranking)

50 – Patryk Wysocki (D), 21, Antwerp Phantoms, (16, -34)

We start this year’s list off with a major fall. Wysocki started the year in the top Russian junior league with ORG Junior Beijing. The promising stay at home defensemen finished last season with the Chinese junior team that plays in the top Russia junior league after being recruited by Andrei Parfenov, the former head coach of the Polish junior program. Parfenov took a job in the VHL for the 2020 season. While new head coach Yevgeni Yesaulov gave him a chance, in the beginning, the 5’11 Gdansk product eventually disappeared from the lineup.  He played his last game for the team on October 10th, where he played just under six minutes. In early December, he showed up in the Belgium league, recording four assists in 14 games for the Antwerp Phantoms. A step back year for a defenseman that is good enough to be at the top level, but not enough to secure a permanent spot.

49 – Kacper Gruzla (F), 20, MOSM Tychy (Unranked)

Gruzla makes his debut on the list after a promising performance at the U20 World Championship and solid junior league season. Gruzla posted two goals for Poland, one an empty netter,  at the U20 World Championship. He also made his senior debut for GKS Tychy, along with playing in the PHL for PZHL U23. In 15 PHL games, he posted both a goal and assist. His best offensive success came with Mosm Tychy, where he recorded 22 goals and 19 assists in 26 games in Poland’s MHL, which was eighth in the league. Lots of flashes of potential, but he is someone who needs to play against stronger talent more.

48 – Szymon Radzieńciak (D), 20, HC Ocelari Trinec U20, (66, +18)

Radzieńciak is mirroring the development of his brother Grzegorz Radzieńciak. While his brother Grzegorz has flashed more of a two-way game, Radzieńciak is more one dimensional with defensive being his specialty. The 6’2 defensemen represented Poland at the 2018 U18s and was under consideration for a spot on this year’s U20 squad. The long time HC Ocelari Trinec junior player had two assists in 30 DHL games, along with appearing in two games for the PZHL U23 squad.

47 – Mateusz Zieliński (D), 23, KH Torun, (70, +23)

Zieliński took a big jump this year, becoming a larger part of the KH Torun defense. Coming into this season, Zieliński had 11 points in his previous 125 PHL games, this year in 50 games, the 6’0 defensemen had 12 points (3-9-12). This was second among all U23 defensemen for points. He played more and more than handled that challenge, especially as Torun tested plenty of import defensemen that he was able to outplay.

Zieliński

46 – Igor Augustyniak (F), 19, Cracovia Kraków, (59, +13)

Augustyniak moved to the Krakow program this year after spending his entire junior career with Polonia Bytom. In his first year with Krakow, he was able to play more in the PHL, recording six games with Krakow, along with playing nine games for PZHL U23, where he recorded a goal and an assist. This came on top of a great junior league season, where Augustyniak posted 34 points (21-13-34) in 21 games, tied for twelfth in the league. The 5’9 forward should have a strong chance at making Poland’s U20 squad next year.

45 – Szymon Dobosz (F), 18, UKS Sanok, (43, -2)

Dobosz is one of the players that probably suffered the most from the cancellation of the U18s, as he would have no doubt been a leader on that squad. At an earlier U18 tournament in Hungary, he recorded four points (1-3-4) in three games. This year his season was split between PZHL U23, along with both Sanok’s U20 team and their Sovak second Liga team. In the PZHL U23, he recorded one assist in seven games. In Slovakia, he recorded eight points (4-4-8) in 16 games, down from 14 points last year. In limited U20 action, the career Sanok junior player recorded 15 points (8-7-15) in nine games. Dobosz already received U20 squad consideration this year, so I would say he has an outside chance at making it next year.

44 – Marcel Kotuła (G), 19, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (79, +35)

Last year I feel I didn’t give enough credit to goaltenders on the list, and I wanted to change that for this year. Statistics really don’t paint young goalies in a good light in Poland, given they face 40 plus shots in PZHL U23 games. Kotuła was a victim of that posting a .829 sv% in eight games with PZHL U23. When not on loan to the Polish U23 squad, he was much better. He saved 16 out of 17 shots against Janow in his lone PHL game for Sosnowiec this year and posted a .912 sv% in 18 U20 league games. His .912 sv% was the best among goalies with at least ten matches. He received some U20 squad consideration this season and most likely will have a spot on the squad in 2020.

Kotula

43 – Michał Zając (F), 19, Polonia Bytom, (67, +24)

Zając had a great year despite not being able to log minutes for a club in the PHL. In ten games with PZHL U23, he posted 4 points (2-2-4). In a season where PZHL U23 didn’t have many consistent offensive options, this was tied for third on the team in scoring. He also appeared on the Poland U18 team that plays in the Czech third-tier u20 league, where he posted eight points (5-3-8) in seven games. He also played for Polonia Bytom in Poland’s MHL recording another eight points (3-5-8) in ten games. He had some early U20 consideration and should be a strong candidate for next season. He is a good goal scorer, but a lot of his game needs refinement.

42 – Maciej Miarka (G), 19, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, (51, +9)

The main reason why Miarka is rising this year is me wanting to give goalies more credit, but I would call this a season Miarka might just want to bury and forget. It seemed no matter where the Lodz native went, he was lit up with not much help. He posted a .847 sv% for PZHL U23 in ten games as the team’s main goalie. Then at the U20 World Championship, in back-up duty, Miarka posted a .775 SV%, Poland needed a third-string with how bad he and Lipinski performed. In his two junior games, he posted a .891 sv% allowing 8 goals in two games. His lone bright spot came in five third-tier Czech U20 league games, where he posted .092 GAA. A season to forget for a very young and talented goalie who showed how promising they are at the U18 level previously.

41 – Armen Khoperia (D), 20, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (32, -9)

Armen Khoperia dropped in the rankings through nothing of his own fault, just the inject of new talent and players making larger jumps. Khoperia had a great year becoming a full-time PHL defenseman at just 19-years-old. In 38 games between PZHL U23 and Zaglebie Sosnowiec, with a majority coming with Sosnowiec, the 6’2 defensemen posted four points (1-3-4). Khoperia is really developing well and should start working his way towards becoming a member of the senior national team. He represented Poland at the U20 World Championships this year, posting two assists in five games.

Khoperia

Players 40-31

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No Defense Allowed. 5 Thoughts 2019 U20 D1B World Championship

This year the U20 team was packed with plenty of offensive talent highlighted by NHL Draft hopeful Jakub Lewandowski. The team possessed a very young defense that had a lot of returning players. The goaltending duo had impressed last year and even if they did half as well Poland looked have promotion secured on paper. Of the three units, only one of them was able to live up to their expectations. The offense did great while the defense and goaltending suffered. As a disclaimer, I was only able to watch a handful of games, which brings us right to the first thought.

Sorry Excuse for Streams

About a month before this tournament, Ukraine hosted a four-nation U20 tournament. All of those games were streamed on Youtube in okay quality. This year Ukraine originally only planned to stream Ukraine games on Facebook. In the end, random select games received very poor quality streams that appeared to be shot on a camera from the early 1990s. This comes at a time when there is a lot of criticism the IIHF has received for the lack of quality streams.

Streams for tournaments are decided by the host federation and them alone for most tournaments. IIHF senior world championships seem to be the only exception for that. It should be a requirement though for hosting a tournament that the host is able to provide quality streams for the tournament. For these junior players especially this is the most exposure they will get and a great chance to gain film. In a perfect world, these streams would be handled by the IIHF and streamed on their Youtube channel.

Put In The Third String

Poland’s goaltending was very disappointing in this tournament. The duo of Sebastian Lipinski and Maciej Miarka both played poor in their appearances. Of goaltenders to appear in at least 40% of their teams total minutes, Lipinski finished dead last with a .819 save percentage. Back up goalie Miarka posted a .775 save percentage in his limited time. While one tournament is not the end-all for everything, Poland’s goaltending future does not seem as secure as once believed.

An NHL Draft Worthy Performance

Jakub Lewandowski was a stud in this tournament and put in the performance one would hope with his resume. This tournament was his and he put up 13 points to lead the entire tournament in scoring. Lewandowski proved he is a step above all other Polish talents. He was off to a hot start in the United States Hockey League, but cooled off. Hopefully, the U20 World Championship will help bring back his early-season production.

JL gif.gif 

Bieniek’s Breakthrough

In my limited viewing, Szymon Bieniek was Poland’s most impressive defenseman. He has the two-way game to thrive at both ends. I think he has a very good chance to be Poland’s best defensemen since Pawel Dronia. He has excelled in the states being named both a player of the month and to the NAPHL all-star game.

Sarnik’s Second Chance

Poland’s U20 team head coaches usually have two to three years reigns. Jaroslaw Morawiecki had three seasons at the helm, Andrei Parfenov lasted two years at the top, Torbjörn Johansson led the team for three, then David Leger just had one year. This was Sarnik’s second chance at leading the team and he now has led them to their worse finish this century. The U20 team needs a new coach and Poland should bring in a foreign coach to aid with that development. I don’t believe Poland currently has a coach that can develop talent to higher levels and produce results.

Quick Thoughts

– Klaudiusz Libik’s lack of experience seems to be catching up with him in his development. He remains one of Poland’s best defensive prospects though.

– Kamil Walega maybe the best offensively talented player developed in Poland in the last few years

– There were plenty of special offensive players in this tournament. All of Damian Tyczynski, Igor Smal, Jakub Blanik, Maciej Witan, and Sebastian Brynkus deserve a lot of praise.

– As is custom for almost every tournament. Too many penalties. Poland ranked second in the tournament with 75.

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2019 Poland U20 World Championship Roster Prediction

Recently the U20 National team revealed their roster for the final grouping before the U20 World Championship in Ukraine from December 12th to the 18th. This year the U20 team has had an interesting journey to the World Championship. Poland U20 is going to be very young this year and has tried out a few combinations for lines and rosters. In the past few years, Poland has not been able to earn promotion despite talents like Alan Łyszczarczyk, Bartomiej Jeziorski, Dominik Pas, and others leading the team. This year Poland u20 may have their biggest star in a while as potential NHL draft pick Jakub Lewandowski could represent the team. Adam Kiedewicz is not listed on the roster, and this cast doubt on him ever representing Poland again in his career. Today we make our picks though on what players will be on the ice in red and white for the U20 World Championship.

Forwards

Kamil Walega- Jan Soltys – Jakub Lewandowski

Damian Tyczynski – Igor Smal  – Ernest Bochnak

Jakub Prokurat – Konrad Filipek – Maciej Witan

Jan Krzyzek – Kacper Gruzla – Mateusz Ubowski

Extra: Mateusz Bezwinski

This offense has a lot of talent. The top line could honestly rival the Alan Łyszczarczyk, Bartomiej Jeziorski, and Dominik Pas line that torn up the U20 World Championships a couple years ago. Walega and Lewandowski may be a bit one dimensional at times, but Soltys plays a complete game that will really benefit the line. It won’t be needed much, though, as this line will continuously be driving offense. The second line brings a lot of unique experiences and offensive potential. All three players have excelled in different places, Tyczynski tore up junior leagues in Slovakia, Igor Smal has been impressive at the senior level in Poland, while Bochnak has earned professional chances in the Czech Republic. The bottom lines still provide a lot of solid depth, size, and a chance at production. Bottom six production is something that Poland has been missing for a long time.

Defensemen

Szymon Bieniek – Klaudiusz Libik

Patryk Gosztyla – Armen Khoperia

Adrian Duszak- Michal Narog

Extra: Bartosz Florczak

There were not too many tough choices here, and there are four returners to the roster on defense. The defense lacked two big things experience and production last year. Everyone is now a year older and should have gained plenty of experience. While the production remains to be seen. Bieniek, Libik, and Narog can all make a significant impact on the offensive end. Florczak is included as my extra because of that. The 16-year-old is very talented and could provide offensively if needed. Libik and Bieniek have a chance to be two of the best defensemen ever for Poland, though the bar is pretty low. Poland has never had outstanding offensive defensemen, with Pawel Dronia being the highlight of this decade. Libik and Bieniek could change that.

Goalies

Sebastian Lipinski

Maciej Miarka

The same goaltending duo as last year and no need to change it. Lipinski is the best junior goalie that Poland has, and Miarka isn’t far behind. Lipinski had a great showing at the U20 World Championship last year, while Miarka put on a show at the U18 World Championships. I would expect Lipinski to play four of the games, but Miarka to get at least one.

Conclusion

This team has a lot of potential. They could be the team that earns Poland promotion after four straight silver medals. The group has a lot of speed and skill. They are going to be able to outsmart their opponent and dictate how the game is played. This is a very young squad, and if the defense falters, it could be disastrous for the team. Lipinski posted a .938% last year for Poland and that still wasn’t enough. Poland really needs the defense to stop opponents from getting high danger chances and providing some help on offense.

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2020 Polish NHL Draft Prospect Jakub Lewandowski Moves to the USHL

Poland’s top prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft has improved his chances quite a bit by making a move to the United States Hockey League (USHL).

The Sioux Falls Stampede announced their training camp roster on Tuesday and included on the list was Polish forward Jakub Lewandowski. Lewandowski will be only the second Polish national team player to play in the USHL, Rob Gubala played two games during the 1995-96 season. (John Murray and Mike Cichy played in the USHL prior to joining the Polish national team). Polish-born Kamil Sadlocha and Wojciech Stachowiak also played in the league during the 2017-18 season. Both made NCAA division 1 commitment after the season.

Last season, Lewandowski had 48 points (22-26-26) in 48 games with HC Vitkovice U19 in the Czech U19 league. He also played one game for PZHL U23 in the PHL recording 1 assist. Prior to last year, the 6’2 forward had played in the HC Vitkovice U18 system since 2016. Before moving to the Czech Republic, he played for Sokoly Torun in Poland. Lewandowski represented Poland at the 2018 U18s, where he recorded 7 points (5-2-7) in 5 games.

Lewandowski will be one of the 28 players trying to earn a spot on the 23 man Stampede roster. Last season Sioux Falls were the USHL Champions but will see of five of their top scorers move on in their careers.

The United States Hockey League is the top junior hockey league in the United States and a major source of NHL draft picks. Last year 47 NHL draft picks played at least 15 games in the USHL during their draft year.

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