Tag: Kamil Walega

2020 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #6

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 15-13 Player 9
Players 40-31 Player 12 Player 8
Players 30-21 Player 11 Player 7
Players 20-16 Player 10

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

6 – Kamil Wałęga (F), 20, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, (9, +3)

Wałęga has long been apart of one of the most impactful junior duos in Polish hockey. He and Jan Sołtys tore up IIHF junior tournaments, while leading PZHL u23 to actually be a viable team versus bottom tier PHL teams. This year both Sołtys and Wałęga we’re set to be a significant part of the JKH GKS Jastrzebie offense. Sołtys would be out most of the year, leaving Wałęga all the spotlight, and he definitely took it all in.

This year Wałęga posted career highs in points and assists. In 43 games, he posted 28 points (8-20-28). This was the second-most by any U20 player in the PHL. It was also the fifth-best Draft plus two season for points by a player in the PHL since 2000. The PHL was a stronger league overall this year, and seeing his statistical growth is such a great sign for the future of Poland. He also battled a knee injury early on in the season.

It was only a five-point jump overall, but the bigger deal was playing in the JKH GKS Jastrzebie lineup for pretty much the entire season. Only two of his games came with PZHL U23. Another great sign from his production is only six of his points were recorded against Janow or PZHL U23, giving him a much higher percentage of points against quality competition compared to other young players. 

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The Cieszyn native has five production comparables in Aron Chmielewski, Bartłomiej Jeziorski, Maciej Szewczyk, Patryk Kogut, and Patryk Wronka. That is quite a different selection of players with some of the most dominant forwards in Polish hockey right now, along with a couple that have never made it out of the bottom six on PHL teams despite some good production at times. Overall, it bolds very well for Wałęga. It would be interesting to see how Wałęga would fare outside of Poland like comparables Chmiewlewski and Wronka.

This year at the Visegrad Cup, Wałęga had the chance to test his skills against some teams outside of Poland. He would only record one assist in six games. I was hoping for a larger showing in the tournament from him. He did more than make up for it though at the U20 World Championships, where he recorded 11 points (6-5-11) in five games. This was second on team Poland and in the entire tournament for points. His six goals were tied for second in the tournament. As a result of his play, he was named the top player on team Poland at the competition.

walegta 2

Wałęga possesses all-around great offensive ability no matter it be firing the puck with a sniper-like accurate shot or setting up his teammates for an easy goal. He is a quality skater with great vision on the ice. The 5’10 forward is not the biggest player and will never likely be a strong two-way player. In Wałęga, Poland has a forward that is already a top 6 forward in the PHL and should reach the same role on the senior team as his national team career progresses. He is someone who, in the right situation, would be able to make it outside of Poland as well.

Coming into this next season, Jastrzebie should be a top team in the PHL. Although they are likely to be losing top import talents like Artem Iossafov and Jesse Rohtla. These openings in the line up are the next opportunity that Wałęga should quickly fill. A larger role will only help him continue to grow on his fantastic 2020 season. After this season though, it is up in the air.

“In the upcoming season I will still be associated with the Jastrzębie Hockey Club, but after that I end my contract. If I am doing well, I would like to try my hand abroad as much as possible” –  Kamil Wałęga to wiadomosci.ox.pl

I was curious how Wałęga would do without Sołtys alongside him in the line-up. I pretty much have always linked the two forwards together, with Sołtys all-around game often giving him the edge over his often linemate. Wałęga more than proved he isn’t a robin to batman, he is his own star.

Player #5

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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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“Breakout Stars?” 2019-20 PHL Team Previews: JKH GKS Jastrzebie

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

JKH GKS Jastrzebie is the team that it would be great if every other PHL team could be them. They are the best at developing talent by far. This has created an amazing young core of talent that will have them being a contender for years to come if players stay.  Last year, after a strong start their season ended quickly at the hands of Cracovia Krakow. There is no doubt that they have the young talent and potential, but the production hasn’t been there. 40-year-old center Peter Fabus led the team in points last year. Fabus and Tomas Kominek were the only two players with more than 25 points last season and now both are gone. They found upgrades over both in my opinion, but if they’re going to win it all, they need their young talent to start producing offensively.

Forwards

Dominik Jarosz – Jesse Rohtla – Maciej Urbanowicz

Artem Iossafov – Radoslaw Sawicki  – Dominik Pas

Martin Kasperlík – Jan Soltys – Kamil Walega

Radoslaw Nalewajka – Kamil Wróbel – Patryk Pelaczyk

Other forwards: Lukasz Nalewajka, Patryk Matusik, Tomasz Kulas

The offense has a lot of young talent and they have done a better job of surrounding them with strong veterans then in years past. Jesse Rohtla is one of the biggest free-agent additions of the PHL offseason. The talented Finnish center spent the last two seasons with GKS Katowice ranking up 117 points during that time. That is the third-most points by a player in the PHL since the 2017-2018 season. He is the exact player that Jastrzebie needed. Rohtla was not the only major addition from GKS Katowice, as Maciej Urbanowicz joined the team as well. Urbanowicz returned to the team after four seasons away. The power forward is always good for around point per game production and someone younger players would really benefit from having on their wing. Now to the young talent that needs to start producing at high levels. Dominik Jarosz has been quite impressive in pre-season action scoring quite a few goals. The 20-year-old winger had only 15 points last year and did attract some national team attention. Dominik Pas is a great two-way player and strong forechecker. He has had 20 points in each of the past three seasons despite being only 19. Jan Soltys and Kamil Walega are one of the best duos in Polish hockey. The two have produced great numbers on the international stage and in the PHL. Both forwards will be leaders on Poland’s U20 team and should be leaders on Jastrzebie. If young talent produces at high levels this could be one of the most fierce offenses in the PHL.

Defensemen

Jakub Giminski – Henrich Jabornik

Kamil Gorny – Maris Jass 

Arkadiusz Kostek – Grzegorz Radzienciak

Jakub Michalowski – Kordian Chorazyczewski

This defense isn’t exciting but is still above average among PHL squads. Henrich Jabornik was the first new import to the PHL this year and is a pretty interesting player. Jabornik was a highly thought of player in his junior days, he appeared at the U18 IIHF championships and World Juniors for Slovakia. He has played in over 250 Tipsport Liga games, but has spent four years in the Erste Liga as well. There in Hungary, he has shown a lot more recording at least 10 goals and 17 assists in each season. Kamil Gorny is a really solid defensemen and maybe the best Polish defensemen on the roster. Gorny returns to JKH GKS Jastrzebie after a three-year stint with GKS Tychy. Maris Jass will be a fun player to watch this season. The veteran Latvian defensemen has played in 15 different hockey leagues and represented Latvia at plenty of international events. He is not afraid to play physical or rush up the ice. Jass plays an all-around solid game. Grzegorz Radzienciak is one of the best young defensemen in Poland. His defensive skills are ready for professional hockey, but the other end of his game has kinda flatlined since his final junior days. The defense is a lot of like of the offense featuring some strong young talent with the right amount of imports and veterans insulating them.

Goalies

Ondrej Raszka

David Marek

Oskar Prokop

In net JKH GKS Jastrzebie has a three-headed dragon of Czech goaltenders. Ondrej Raszka is the third best goalie in Poland behind Odrobny and Murray. It is a shame that he has yet to play a game for Poland at an IIHF event. He is the youngest of the three though so he has time. Raszka is vital to his team’s success and led the league in save percentage last year. A better team around him offensively should make his job easier. Now the back-up position is a bit odd to me. This offseason, Jastrzebie added young Czech goalie David Marek. Now Marek seemed to have an inconsistent career in the Czech junior leagues and lower Czech pro leagues. As a backup, I’m sure he will be fine. The thing that is odd to me is that the team also has Oskar Prokop. Prokop has a similar story to Raszka. A decent, but somewhat inconsistent career in the Czech Republic before coming over to Poland, and later representing team Poland. Prokop had a rough year last year, he only played 12 total games and was left off the roster for Poland at the U20 World Championships. I don’t know if he was injured or what was the reason for his lack of appearances. This year already Prokop has played two games in the first league, posting strong performances in each match. My guess is the goal is to allow him more playing time, while Marek can take the few times Raszka doesn’t play.

Prediction: 3rd

This team has an above-average offense and defense that is combined with one of the best goaltenders in Poland. Their team as it is should be a contender in the PHL, if young players are ready to start producing and contributing a lot more though this team could be in line for a championship run. That is betting on a lot of players taking big steps in their career.

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2019 Top 50 Polish Men’s U23 Players. #9-8

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 9 and 8.

Players 50-45     Players 26-21

Players 44-39     Players 20-17

Players 38-33     Players 16-13

Players 32-27     Players 12-10

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

#9 – Kamil Walega (F), 19, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. This year Kamil Walega and Jan Soltys did something that I thought was impossible in making PZHL U23 a competitive team. In 22 games with PZHL, Walega had 11 goals and 3 assists. His 11 goals are the most ever scored by any player apart of a PHL junior squad in the history of the PHL. When you throw in his 20 games with JKH GKS Jastrzebie, his season totals at 16 goals and 7 assists in 42 games. That is the highest goal and point total among U20 players and the second highest point per game among players with at least 5 games played. In the history of the PHL, it is the 16th highest overall total by a U20 player in the league.

 

 

There exist only a few production matches for Walega, but they do us no good in projecting his future. The players are Bartlomiej Jeziorski, Dominik Pas, Mateusz Goscinski, and Pawel Polacarz. Jeziorski, Pas, and Goscinski are all still fairly young great players, but still there careers are too young to judge. Polacarz, on the other hand, faced a lot of injury problems and retired at only 22 in 2011. Such a rare season should be considered good, especially based on how much players like Jeziroski or Pas improved their production the following year.

 

Walega also made his senior national team debut playing in two exhibition games against Hungary. He was a leader on Poland’s U20 team as well at the U20 World Championships. He had 1 goal and 4 assists, which was tied for the second most points on the team. He is only 5’10 but plays like he is much larger. He has some great edge work that he uses to protect the puck and drive the net. A true powerhouse on the offensive front. Walega will be able to return to team Poland U20 next year, and I imagine he’ll get more games with the senior national team as well. Walega is a player that has outgrown Poland. I don’t think he can gain much more from playing in the PHL and it would be best for his development to try and move up to a stronger league. Poland’s U20 coach agrees with this idea as shown by an interview after the U20 World Championship, “Our problem is that players like Pasia or Wałęgi should go to Sweden two years ago to continue to develop. In Poland, they will learn nothing more.” 

#8 – Damian Tyczynski (LW), 19, HK Poprad U20.  Tyczynski was an absolute scoring machine last year in the Slovak U20 league. In 46 regular season games, he had 22 goals and 47 assists for 69 points. That led the regular season in scoring by 16 points. It was also the second highest points per game among players with 15 games played.

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He was unfortunately injured in his first playoff game and missed the rest of the postseason, but still managed assists before going down to bring his point total up to 70. Even when overall totals are applied, Tyczynski lead the league in scoring by 6 points!

 

 

 

With a performance like that you have to imagine HK Poprad would be pleased enough for him to get a chance in the Tipsport Liga right? Nope. Tyczynski saw 6 of his teammates get a chance with the team, but never got his. Tyczynski set the U20’s team record for assists in a season and the second most points in a season. The answer is simple as to why he didn’t get a chance and that is because he is Polish. Tyczynski knows this pretty well and has said it in multiple interviews, but still hoped to earn a chance with the top squad.  In an interview with Sport.sk Tyczynski talked about why some chances have fallen through when asked if he is interested in being drafted to the NHL, “Of course. It is my dream. But there is one problem – I am a Pole and they do not want the Poles. When they learn that I am from Poland, they lose interest. I do not know. There were some chances for me as well, but when they learned that I was a Pole, it fell. I see the problem in a lack of tradition. They don’t believe us. ”

Most players who produced like him at his age have gone on to the Canadian Hockey League or turned pro in Europe. That is what makes the future of Tyczynski so interesting. His resume says that he should be getting a lot of interest from stronger leagues, but apparently, the Polish factor is holding him back. He will be able to play for team Poland next year at the U20 World Championships, but that is the only known team he will be on. He will always have a chance to play in the PHL, and had offers last offseason to come over including from Cracovia Krakow. He deserves to be in a higher league though.

Player 7-6

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