Tag: Jakub Prokurat

2021 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #7-6

We are now at the lucky seven. The last ranking featured a few players that had run into some unfortunate career developments or had a season cut short due to covid. That is not the case with our following two players. Both in Poland or abroad, these players went into a senior league and crushed it. These are the kinds of players that make me so excited for Poland’s future, especially when a lot of things seem bleak for hockey in the country. What is so great about it is well is both players have such different paths and still became fantastic players. 

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on June 30th, 2021. We are only judging play that occurred before that date as well. Players are evaluated based on a combination of career history, current play, and potential. Players must have played at least five hockey games to be considered. While most of the ranking is my opinion, numerous Polish hockey people contributed their thoughts on players. One hundred forty-five players were considered for the list and reviewed. Eighty 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 report.

Players 50-41Players 15-11
Players 40-31Players 10-8
Players 30-21
Players 20-16

Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2020, change in rankings)

7 – Patryk Krężołek (F), 23, KH GKS Katowice, (11, +4) 

Krężołek ends his tenure on the list with a fantastic season. The Krynica native has established himself as one of the best goal scorers in the PHL. Even though he suffered a late injury to miss the end of the season and playoffs, Krężołek posted a new career-high of 18 goals in 36 games, .5 goals per game average. Over the past two years, his 38 goals are the eighth-most by any player in Poland. The players above him all having had success outside Poland. His 38 goals during that span are also 11 more than the next U23 player. 

Krężołek is a pure goal scorer with great offensive instincts and is extremely smart and dangerous in front of an opponent’s goal. He proved that it wasn’t just a lucky case of the right time and place in 2020 by increasing his goal count in 2021. It wasn’t just in the goal-scoring department either, as the 6’1 forward recorded 15 assists for a new career-high in helpers. It was also a new career-high in points with 33, finishing first among Polish U23 players. Unfortunately, the year would end on a low point as Krężołek would injure his collarbone and it required surgery. 

Krężołek Goal vs Sosnowiec

Krężołek was also able to earn more chances with the national team as he played in two games during a Euro Ice Hockey Challenge tournament. He was also named to the three seas roster but could not play. For the 2021 season, the talented forward has already re-upped with GKS Katowice. He should continue to be a crucial part of Katowice and a growing presence on the Polish national team.

6 – Jakub Prokurat (F), 20, Krefelder EV 1981 U23, (14, +8) 

The most significant way in my book to show you’re a legit top prospect is to move to a senior league before you turn 20 and rank up strong production. That is precisely what Jakub Prokurat did in 2021. The 19-year-old forward has played in Germany since 2019. After proving himself in Germany’s top U20 league, he earned a spot on Krefelder EV 1981 U23. As the name suggests, they are a U23 team that plays in Germany’s third league, the Oberliga. The Oberliga is a common place for Polish players and PHL free-agent additions, and the league regularly transition wells to the PHL in terms of production. 

Prokurat showed he was good enough to play there with a great year, posting 23 points (3G-20A-PTS) in 41 games. His 20 assists were the second-most by a U20 in the Oberliga, while his 23 points were the fifth most. His season is unique, and there are only 12 production matches for him. The good news is that 100% of them went on to play in a league comparable to the PHL, and 25% played at least 50 games in a mid-level European league. While it may not suggest that Prokurat is going to be playing for a top European club, it looks he is guaranteed to be a solid professional with a great chance of doing that in a league stronger than the PHL. 

Speaking of the PHL, that is where the product of the Torun junior system will be heading next season as the Warszawa native had a successful tryout with Katowice. Playing for a lower-standing Oberliga team is probably not as good as playing for a top PHL team. GKS Katowice head coach Jacek Płachta is coming off coaching Obelriga squad Crocodiles Hamburg to three straight top-five finishes. It is an excellent chance for Prokurat to develop his skills and patch up the rest of his game. He has surpassed the junior ranks and is already a pro-ready player.

Players #5-4

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2020 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #15-13

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

Players 20-16

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

15 – Igor Smal (F), 20, Lotos PKH Gdansk, (22, +7

Smal continues the steady rise up the ranks of Polish players. Smal originally was playing junior hockey in Sweden but returned to Poland in 2017 to continue his career. This year the center set a new career-high in PHL points with 12 (6-6-12). 2019-20 was also a new career-high in games with 47. He possesses good size, keen offensive awareness, with great hands. The 6’0 Gdansk native has the makings of a promising player. He started off strong but fell off as the season went on. Consistency is the biggest thing about his game that will need to improve. Smal is in an excellent situation for this as well. As he was able to move up and down the Gdansk lineup last year, even getting a go on the top line at times. Gdansk is the exact kind of opportunity that will allow him to play a lot of valuable minutes. Smal was also a valuable part of team Poland at the U20 World Championships, where he recorded six points (3-3-6) in five games.

Igor Smal

14 – Jakub Prokurat (F), 19, Krefelder EV 1981, (40, +26)

A Polish player being one of Krefelder U20’s leading scorers is a very common trend, and that continued with Jakub Prokurat. This season the 18-year-old forward led Krefelder in points after posting 43 points (18-25-43) in 32 games. His production also never dropped off and continued to rise during the year. This was good for fifth in the entire DNL U20, the top U20 league in Germany. It was fourth in points per game, among players with 15 games played. The top-level DNL U20 has been in effect for three seasons, and Prokurat’s year ranks as the 12th best season by an 18-year-old skater for points per game. I like to see how players with similar production faired. There are two matches for Prokurat; German Sebastian Hon and Latvian Patriks Marcinkēvičs. This season, Hon was able to turn pro in the DEL2, while Marcinkēvičs was a top scorer in the American NCDC.

His production in the DNL U20 bolds well for his development. Prokurat also made the Polish U20 squad this year but would go pointless in five games with two shots. I don’t believe he was given a significant role with the team, through the games I was able to stream, but I still would have hoped to see him produce against some lower competition. It will be interesting to see where Prokurat plays next year. I hope he would be able to get some reps in the Oberliga for Kredfleder’s U23 team. His patience with the puck at times is an attribute that should really benefit him at the pro level. His size may be a concern for some senior teams.

13 – Bartłomiej Jeziorski (F), 22, GKS Tychy, (10, -3

Jeziorski has long been one of Poland’s best forward prospects, but as he turns 22, his PHL career has not progressed like I thought it would. Jeziorski has played in the PHL since 2015-16 when he was 17. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the forward posted over 20 points. In 2019, he posted 17 points in 55 games. This season, Jeziorski posted 20 points (11-9-20) in 47 games. He really started the year off strong, looking good in the Champions Hockey League, and really an offensive force during the beginning of the PHL season, but fall off after the season went on, which was really a common trend among young Polish players this year. Jeziorski really needs to be able to consistently make an impact. He has a lot of great tools at his disposal, being 6’3, great hands, good skater, and an accurate shot. There are times like this goal here versus GKS Katowice, where you see his skill on display.

Jeziorski

There is just too often where his play like that is nowhere to be found. Often his goals come from his solid net-front presence and bounces going his way. He has the ability to drive plays, so I would like to see that more. Jeziorski definitely has impressed national team head coach Tomek Valtonen though, who included Jeziorksi on all three senior national team rosters this year, including the Olympic qualifiers.

Jeziorski 2

Player #12

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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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