Tag: Jakub Blanik

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

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“The Russian Trio” 2019-20 PHL Team Previews: Zaglebie Sosnowiec

Leading up to the start of 2019-20 season, we will preview every team in the PHL

Last year Zaglebie Sosnowiec was able to buy their way into the PHL shortly before the season began. This left a roster made mostly for the 1st league. They finished third to last in the PHL. This year Zaglebie is back for vengeance. They went out and had one of the biggest offseasons for any team in the PHL. Their biggest signings included signing the Russian trio of Daniil Orekhin, Robert Korchokha, and Semyon Garshin. The Russian trio dominated the PHL last year propelling KH Torun to 6th place in the league. Loaded up with some nice imports and young talent, Zaglebie Sosnowiec could potentially shock the league.

Forwards

Semyon Garshin – Daniil Orekhin – Robert Korchokha

Blazej Salamon – Damian Slabon – Tomasz Kozlowski

Filip StoklasaNikita Butsenko – Dominik Nahunko

Michal Bernacki – Lukasz Rutkowski – Jakub Blanik

Other forwards: Adam Jaskolski, Aleksander Gniewek, Andrzej Stojek, Kamil Sikora, Patryk Jarosz, and Vasili Yerasov. 

This forward group has so much talent. The Russian Trio of Daniil Orekhin, Robert Korchokha, and Semyon Garshin give them a line that can match up with any top line in the PHL. Blazej Salamon had a rough time in GKS Tychy last year, but still showed how much he can produce offensively with Polonia Bytom and Sosnowiec. Some of the young talents include Jakub Blanik and Michal Bernacki. Blanik was the captain of the Polish U18 team last year and had quite the strong performance. Bernacki was a goal-scoring machine during his junior days. Really excited to see what these players can do in a strong offense. Of the mid-tier teams in the PHL, they may have the best offense.

Defensemen

Vyacheslav Tryasunov – Marek Kaluza

Matej Cunik – David Turon

Lukasz Podsiadlo – Kamil Charousek

Other defensemen: Adrian Duszak, Marcin Horzelski, Michal Domogala, and Michal Dzialo.

The defense is pretty good but is nothing special. It is pretty veteran-led, with, in my opinion, only one player of their best six being under 30-years-old. Vyacheslav Tryasunov is an exciting import currently on a try-out basis right now. Tryasunov is a defensive first guy with experience in the KHL and has represented Kazakstan at the World Championships. I think he is the exact kind of player that young players like Adrian Duszak and Marcin Horzelski could learn a lot from. Matej Cunik is another good import. I think he brought a lot of value to Gdansk late last year and is a really great second pairing guy in the PHL.

Goalies

Rafal Radziszewski

Michal Czernik

Make no mistake Rafal Radziszewski is one of the best Polish goalies of all time, but he is no longer at his former status. Among goalies with at least 15 games played, he ranked 8th last year in the PHL for save percentage with .914. I would have liked to see them add another goalie, potentially a younger one, to split starts with Radziszewski. I think there were plenty of PHL goalie free-agent options for that like Michael Luba, Nick Vilardo, or Tomasz Witkowski. Michal Czernik has shown potential in the past but really struggled in the PHL so far. I think they could have really used another goaltender in that room to play some games.

Prediction: 7th

Zaglebie Sosnowiec is taking a big step forward this season, but a lot of veteran options need to help bring along the young talent this team has. As who knows how long some veteran players can keep up their production and play. Their goaltending is going to be in the bottom half of the PHL, and that prevents me from ranking them higher despite my high praise for their offense. This team is going be similar to KH Torun last year. A big part of Turon was the performance of Patrik Spesny in net, something Sosnowiec won’t likely have.

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2019 Top 50 Polish Men’s U23 Players. #44-39

Despite all that seems to go wrong in Polish hockey the light at the end of the tunnel has been the amount of great young talent that Poland has in their system right now. This is the deepest depth of young talent Poland has had this century. Regardless of what happens in regards to management and coaching with the talent that Poland has coming, they should be able to push forward. In this list, I wanted to rank Poland’s young talent to create a better picture of what the future look likes. This is part 2 of the series as we look at the players ranked 44 through 39.

Players 50-45

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team

#44 – Jan Krzyzek (F), 18, SMS PZHL Katowice. Krzyek was one of the biggest risers this hockey season. A huge part of that was his stellar performance with SMS and a great showing at the U18s. He was tied for the lead in points on SMS at 29 (13G, 16A). He has a lot of good offensive skills that if he just continues to improve, could become lethal. I hope he has done enough to earn a chance to appear in the PHL next year for PZHL u23, as he has proven to be too good for the 2nd league.

#43 – Szymon Dobosz (F), 17, KH 58 Sanok. One of the reasons I like the Sanok team in Slovakia’s 3rd league is that fact that young talent gets a lot of chances in the men’s league. While yes the opposing talent isn’t that strong it still is a valuable experience of the players. One player who impressed in Sanok this year was Dobosz. The 16-year-old had 14 points (3G, 11A) in 15 games with Sanok. He was also a member of Poland’s U18 gold medal squad, where was the second young player on the team. In 5 U18 games, he recorded a goal and an assist. Dobosz has some great hands which really contribute to his strong scoring and playmaking ability.

 

 

 

 

 

#42 – Adrian Pawel Slowakiewicz (C/LW), 20, Podhale Nowy Targ. Slowakiewicz returned to Poland this year after starting off the season in the Slovak junior leagues. Slowakiewicz came to Poland and would be under the watch of Tomek Valtonen. He didn’t really get many chances from the team though. He was described by Valtonen as having the potential to be a good player, but he has to play.  Which was odd based on Valtonen used him. Slowakiewicz was hot coming into the season after having a good year with Bodens HF J20 in Sweden, but it was a step back of a year. Everyone sees potential in him, but he has to unlock it. 

#41 – Milosz Noworyta (D), 20, Unia Oswiecim. Noworyta is a solid defenseman and has a defensive first game. In a Poland future that is filled with defensemen that do like to rush the puck, there is a value in the stay home guys like Noworyta, especially at the young ages when players are still learning when to rush or pinch at the right time. He was able to handle 2 on 1s really well, cutting down angles at the U20s. Noworyta is also pretty good at breaking out the puck. He does sometimes make some unforced mistakes, but those should go away as he gets more and more experience. He really needs to play more in the top league with a solid team around him.

#40 – Jakub Prokurat (F), 18, Krefelder EV 1981 U20. Prokurat is a great offensive talent for Poland but had a bit of a rough season. The previous year, Prokurat established himself as potentially one of the top offensive players in Poland’s system. At 16 he tore up the Poland U20 league with 48 points (25G, 23A) in 26 games. He earned a spot on the Polish U18 squad and finished 4th on the team in points with 8 (3G, 5A). His great year earned him a spot with the Krefelder EV 1981 U20 in Germany. This team had two fellow top polish players; Maciej Rutkowski and Adam Kiedewicz. Prokurat only ended up playing 11 games with Krefelder this year, but still had time to show off his offensive skills with 1 goal and 6 assist in those games. He was then at the U18s for Poland again, where he recorded 3 assist in 5 games. While maybe a bit of rust from not getting to play that much. Prokurat still has a lot of potential and I hope to see him play more. One attribute that didn’t affect my rankings, but I wanted to point for Porkurat is that the kid seems to be a natural leader.

#39 – Jakub Blanik (F), 18, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. Speaking of leaders, Blanik was the captain for Poland at the U18s this year. Blanik has been tearing it up in the Poland U20 league. In the 2017-18 season, he led the league in points with 60 (25G, 35) in 28 games. This year he finished second, one behind the leader Filip Mazurkiewicz, with 62 (26G, 36) in 27 games. Blanik also had a 12 game run with PZHL u23, where he recorded one assist. The big key for Blanik next year is to continue playing against senior teams. He isn’t going to get better playing in the U20 league anymore, he needs stronger competition.

Players 38-33     Players 16-13

Players 32-27     Players 12-10

Players 26-21     Players 9-8

Players 20-17

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