One of Poland’s best young players has taken another major step in their hockey career. 19-year-old Jakub Lewandowski has made an NCAA commitment to Bemidji State University. He will be only the third Polish player to play in the NCAA, and the first since Filip Starzyński in 2018.
Lewandowski quickly emerged as a special talent for Poland. He moved to Czechia at just 16-years-old to play at the top level of U18 hockey in the country. He moved up the ranks quickly making it to the top level in 2019. After his breakout year with 48 points in 48 games in the Czechia U19 league, he moved over to the USA. The Polish forward was able to make it to the USHL, the top level of junior hockey in the states. With the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, he recorded 20 points in 42 games. He was considered a possible late round NHL draft pick at the beginning of the year.
The Torun native has also represented Poland twice on the international stage. He had a seven point tournament in 2018 at the U18s. His best performance though was a 13 point performance at the U20s in 2019. Last season due to COVID-19, Lewandowski returned to Europe and HC Vitkovice. Unfortunately, the Czechia junior leagues would also stop playing after a handful of games. The 6’3 forward still managed four goals and one assist in five games.
Bemidji State University has been playing at the top level of college hockey since 1999. Their best year making it to the frozen four in 2009. Last year the team managed a 22-10-5 record. This was good for the second best record in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Beavers from Northern Minnesota have been coached by Tom Serratore since 1999. It was also the former home of NHL players Brad Hunt (Wild) and Zach Whitecloud (Golden Knights).
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.
I'm so glad that whilst World Juniors and the Spengler Cup are on every TSN, we get the great privilege of watching U18 Women's Worlds online through a glorified doorbell cam pic.twitter.com/lSS4paqvt8
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.
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.
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.
– 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. In this part, we look at the player ranked third.
Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team
3 – Jakub Lewandowski (F), 18, HC Vitkovice U19. One of the highest bars to hit when judging the growth of a small hockey country is getting a player drafted. It can make headlines and inspire so many young players in a country. For Poland, it has been a long time since that height was reached. The last was Marcin Kolusz, who heard his name called in 2003. There have been others since then to reportedly draw some interest and get invited to development camps, but that elusive status of being drafted has continued to evade Polish players. There is always talk of the next player who may potentially change that and that player in Poland right now is Jakub Lewandowski. Lewandowski is Poland’s next chance to have a player drafted to the NHL and his odds look promising.
Lewandowski moved over to the Czech junior system in 2016 after playing in the Sokoly Torun system his entire life. He even reached the Tourn U20 team as a 14-year-old in 2015. His jump to Czechia was dominant from the beginning he had 54 points (27G, 27A) in 30 Czech U16 games. He also got in 28 games at the U18 league, adding 25 more points (17G, 8A). He played full time in the Czech U18 league for the 2017-18 season, he scored 29 goals in 42 games while adding 15 assists for 44 points.
Now to this season his season before being draft eligible. Lewandowski got off to an extremely hot start. Being one of the leading scorers to begin the Czech junior year.
Jakub Lewandowski currently sits 8th in points in Czechia’s top junior league. He turns 17 in October and isn’t eligible for the NHL draft this year.
His scoring did cool a bit, but by no means was it not great production. Lewandowski finished with 22 goals and 26 assists in 48 games. This was the second most points by any player in their season before draft eligibility and the 6th highest point-per-game.
Lewandowski made his national team IIHF debut for Poland at the 2018 U18s. There he was able to score five goals and added two assists. This was tied for the second most goals on team Poland. This year he was left off the U20 World Championship in a controversial decision. That I view as one of the biggest roster mistakes this decade. He did get one game in with PZHL U23, where he recorded an assist against Orlik Opole.
Lewandowski is a sensational offensive talent with an eye for the back of the end. He will always be able to make his way to the front of the net and use his excellent patience before unleashing his lethal shot. He has some decent forechecking ability. He has all the offensive tools to succeed in some of the top professional leagues in Europe.
While his top professional league status in Europe is probably a guarantee. He is also the Polish player that has the best chance to be drafted. His draft year is next year and it is no were near a guarantee, but he has a lot going for him. First, he has the size that NHL team love, Lewandowski stands at 6’2. Second, he has the offensive skill to be drafted in my opinion. The third is the fact that how similar players and players he played with and against are doing. For the 2020 draft, there are six players popping up on draft boards who also played in the Czech u19 league.
Lewandowski while not the top scoring player is not the worst. A reminder he also had the second most points among players in their draft-eligibility -1 season. While an impressive stat part of this is because all the other players, besides John-Jason Peterka, were able to play some professional hockey games. That is the big key for Lewandowski, he needs to get on some larger stages. Even if that is just playing a handful of games in the second league. It would give the exposure and credibility that Lewandowski needs. He will be a key member of Poland’s U20 team along with returning to HC Vitkovice U19. Hopefully, Vitkovice will give him some professional chances.