Tag: Krzysztof Bukowski

2021 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #15-11

We now enter the final article before entering the top 10. We’re starting to get some of the most prominent stand-out players from the 2021 season. These players earned a lot of playing time and were critical to their team. All but one player in the next five moved up in the rankings—only one with a significant rise. When the list gets to as high as we are large player movement is pretty uncommon. 

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 50-41
Players 40-31
Players 30-21
Players 20-16

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

15 – Karol Sterbenz (F), 19, Okanagan HC Europe U20 (33, +18)

Sterbenz is a rare Polish player in the Austrian junior system as he suited up for Okanagan HC. Okanagan HC Europe is a team made of players from across Europe and the rest of the world that plays in the Austrian league. In his first year, the Katowice native showed well at the U18 and U20 levels. In 2021, he balled out while primarily playing in the U20 league. He finished second on his team in points with 30 in just 25 games. His 13 goals and 17 assists were also both second on the team. He would add another goal and assist in two playoff games as well. 

His 30 points were part of a three-way tie for fourth in the ICE Young Stars League and tied for first among draft-eligible players. It stands up while too historically. While the Young Stars league is newer, 55% of Sterbenz production comparables have competed in the ICE Hockey League, the top level of hockey in Austria. Another 36% went on to become a pro in a league around the PHL level. His performance in Austria indeed suggests that Sterbenz has a lot of professional potential. 

We also did see a small glimpse of him in the MHL, and it was not as strong of numbers. In four games for Janow, the 5’9 forward only managed a single assist. In one exhibition game in the PHL when Janow took on Katowice, and Sterbenz was able to score. Sterbenz tried to turn professional with GKS Katowice this year, but his tryout was unsuccessful. The talented 20-year-old forward is now going to the Slovak junior system. It will be interesting to see if his production can carry over or catch up with the Austrian numbers. 

14 – Igor Smal, C, 21, Zaglebie Sosnowiec, (15, +1)

Smal escaped a toxic situation in Gdansk and moved on to Sosnowiec. While he was avoiding a train wreck, Sosnowiec was a team with many holes in their roster. Smal was going to be tasked with being one of the top centers on the team. He was slotted in the second-line center role between Andrei Dubinin and Ivan Rybchik, Rybchik a late addition to the team playing 17 games. Sosnowiec only scored 88 goals as a team, with 47% of them involving first liner Ruslan Bashirov. 

Igor Smal Goal vs Gdansk

An increased role defensively and offensively was the challenge for Igor Smal. The 6’0 center had the physical tools to be ready for the position. The experience was there, as 2021 would be his third full PHL season. Still, he was only 20 and played a more sheltered role with PKH Gdansk. In the end, he would match his point total from the previous year in four fewer games. His four goals and six assists ranked 15th in the PHL for points, and it was 4th among players 20 years old. 

Smal is an intelligent player that processes the game well to avoid mistakes. From everyone we have talked to, he works very hard and sets his sights high, gaining consistently, and more experience will do wonders for him. I would love to see him abroad potentially again, but his PHL production will need to increase for that. For the following year, he is transferring to GKS Katowice. He will be on a much stronger team, going from poor teams where he was trusted with a more prominent role to a spot on a contender where his role will be vastly diminished. 

13 – Jakub Michalowski, D, 23, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, (9, -4)

After a year filled with team achievements, Jakub Michalowski drops a few spots on the list. Unfortunately, Jastrzebie had to make a few additions for his team to become champions. Jiří Klimíček, Mateusz Bryk, and Marcin Horzelski joined Jastrzebie in the offseason, while Eriks Sevcenko would join towards the end. Those four joined national team defenders Arkadiusz Kostek, Kamil Gorny, and Jakub Giminski. Add in Jakub Michalowski, and you have a pretty full defense. We saw this when Michalowski was the odd man and received a few conditioning games in the MHL. That is not something you want to see from a 23-year-old player, but understandable given the team. 

In total, the shutdown defenseman managed two assists in 39 games. The first time Michalowski failed to hit 40 games since 2017. In his 5 MHL appearances, he managed two goals and four assists. A rare outburst of offense from the usual one-way defenseman. He does so much well at the PHL level, including good size, strong skating, and puck-moving abilities. He more than makes up for what he lacks in his offensive skill in defensive talent and potential. After a solid and quick start to his career, his development pace has slowed down. His floor is still a bottom four defensemen. Michalowski still has a ways to go a top-line player. 

For the 2022 season, the long-time player and pupil of JKH GKS Jastrzebie is moving to the GKS Tychy. It will be interesting to see how the player performs in a different environment. There he seems poised to have the potential to move the lineup more than he would in JKH GKS Jastrzebie, who retained their core while adding Sergei Bogoleisha and Yevgeni Kamenev. 

12 – Olaf Bizacki, D, 23, GKS Tychy, (16, +4

Bizacki receives his last ranking on the list as he turns 23. It’s fun to see players develop over time, and Bizacki has been on junior national teams since I started covering prospects. He made his first U18 team during the 2016 season and his first national team appearance during the 2021 season. He crushed it at every level he played, with the PHL and national team included in that. 

Bizacki goal vs. Lithuania

While he may be considered an undersized defender at 5’7 he never plays like it. Bizacki is a solid two-way player, and I’m impressed with his production numbers, given he primarily used on the 4th line in Tychy. While he didn’t set a new high in regular-season points this year, he improved his point per game to a .26. In total, he recorded ten points (1G-9A-10PTS) in 45 games. He is a fixture on the team for sure, with Tychy having involved the young defender in a leadership role at times. 

He competed for team Poland at the Baltic Seas Cup on the national team. There Bizacki picked up a goal and three assists in three games. This included a goal and two assist performances against Lithuania. His three-point night earned him player of the game honors as awarded by the team captain’s Grzegorz Pasiut. As he gets older, it will be interesting to see how much he can move up the GKS Tychy lineup, as right now, that may be the only thing keeping him from higher production seasons. 

11 – Krzysztof Bukowski, F, 19, Kloten U20, (21, +10) 

The Swiss junior system is unknown territory for Polish players. There has only ever been one Pole to reach the top level of junior hockey in the country, Krzysztof Bukowski. The Pole, with a Swiss player license, made it to the top level for Kloten U20. Making it to a league of this magnitude is an outstanding achievement for any young Pole. 

It was not just making it there, as Bukowski proved he belongs with 19 points (7G-12A-19PTS) in 40 games. This was tied for 31st among all skaters in their draft plus one season. Given the prominent league, we have over 120 player comparables for him. The bad news is his current stat line does not suggest he will become a player in Switzerland’s National League or a comparable top league in Europe. Only 4.7% of his player matches went on to play at least 50 games in the National League. On the bright side, 24.2% of his matches played in a top or mid-level league around Europe (Swiss League, Extaliga). That is pretty good odds. Even if most of his comparables ended up below the top two leagues of Switzerland, his brother Jakub Bukowski seems to be translating well to the PHL from Switzerland’s fourth league. 

Bukowski appears to have a strong shot at making it outside of Poland. But even if he returns to Poland, he would easily slide into a top 6 role in the PHL. For the 2022 season, the 5’11 forward will be moving to Genève-Servette U20, another small move up the Swiss hockey ladder as Genève-Servette is a slightly more distinguished club. We will also get to see him at the U20 world championships, where he should be a key contributor on team Poland’s offense.

Players 10-8

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Breaking Down Poland’s U20 Team and Predictions

It feels so good to be back to our regularly scheduled IIHF events. While the Olympic Qualifiers were a load of fun. It feels nice to be back in the routine of seeing the IIHF tournament that we have grown accustomed to on our calendar, not just the ones that take place every four years. The first non-Olympic qualifying event for the red and white will be the Men’s U20 team traveling to Estonia to take on Estonia, France, Japan, Slovenia, and Ukraine from December 12th to the 18th.

The Men’s U20 squad plays in Division 1 Group B and has been since being relegated from Group A in 2014. The team won four straight silver medals from 2016 to 2019, often cruelly losing the gold medal… Then in 2020, the team fell to fourth place under returning U20 head coach Piotr Sarnik. Former PHL forward and long-time Polish development coach Artur Ślusarczyk will be taking his first shot at the U20 team. He was previously an assistant coach on the U18 squad that won promotion and a gold medal in 2019. Arkadiusz Burnat, Bartlomiej Nowak, and Tomasz Demkowicz will also be joining the staff form that same U18 team. While Marta Zawalska will be serving as the team’s manager.

The coaches are set, and we are only days away from the puck drop on Sunday. Team Poland has named their roster, and now it is time to break it down!

Goalies

Oskar Polak

Mikołaj Szczepkowski

Szymon Klimowski

A few years ago, it felt like Poland really had the goaltending situation figured out, and then a pandemic hit, and we lost what would have been some really lovely tandems. I thought that Filip Płonka would be taking the reigns up next, but it appears he was dropped off the final roster after being named to the initial camp. That makes picking this team’s tandem quite the struggle, as Plonka had the highest PHL SV% at .885% and was perfect in his lone MHL performance. Szczepkowski has preformed the best in the MHL, while Polak and Klimowski both have PHL experience. In the end, Polak currently boasts the best PHL numbers and is the elder of the three, so I’m running with him as the starter. Back up is really too much of a toss-up, but I’ll give it to Szczepkowski and his .920 MHL SV%.

Defensemen

Karol Biłas – Oliwier Kasperek

Bartosz Florczak – Kacper Macias

Michał Jaracz – Michał Proczek

Eryk Schafer

The first big thing that sticks out about this defense is there are no right-handed shots, and they didn’t even bring any right-handed shots to camp. I’m not sure how much impact it makes mathematically, but it is undoubtedly odd. To be fair, the next best available right-handed defensemen would probably have been 17-year-old Oliwier Kurnicki. It is understandable for the team to take a more experienced player. This is still a group with some interesting pieces. Macias has done really well in the top Czech junior league. Biłas is undoubtedly one of the best defensemen developed inside Poland in a long time. Schafer is a player from Torun who is really having a breakout year and played 13 games in the PHL. Oliwier Kasperek is a player Tychy seems really high on and will be the group’s veteran. Not the strongest or weakest group the U20 team has brought, some highlights and concerns.

Forwards

Krzyzstof Macias- Jakub Ślusarczyk – Krzysztof Bukowski

Wiktor Bochnak – Stanislaw Drozd-Niekurzak – Fabian Kapica

Szymon Dobosz – Tobiasz Kapica – Karol Sterbenz

Szymon Maćkowski – Sebastian Wicher – Paweł Wybiral

Dominik Kasprzyk

In my opinion, this line has the potential to be one of the strongest first lines Poland has iced in a while. Macias is absolutely tearing it up in the top level of Czech hockey with the 11th most points by a U18 player. Ślusarczyk’s is also teammates with Macias on HC Vitkovice U20. He has always been a standout player for Poland at junior events. Bukowski is doing well at the top level of Swiss junior hockey and has experience with one of the best clubs in the junior scene there. Lower the down the line up I have a lot of stock in Fabian Kapica, Dzord-Niekurzak, and Sterbenz, who have shown themselves well abroad or in the PHL. Dobosz is an interesting addition; given he has not played anywhere in the 2021 season, it will be interesting to see what shape he and his game are in.

Much like the defense, the team is very right-handed shot-heavy. I am interested in the bottom-six picks. It seems the SMS Katowice connection helped a few players. Adrian Gromadzki, Michal Kusak, Michał, and Nawrocki were all forwards that I thought would be in more significant contention, but given their age, I’m not too surprised. Right-handed Piotr Ciepielewski could also fall into that discussion, but I have no significant problems. The team will need the offense to help suppress shots and scoring chances. I don’t just mean being good defensively, but also keeping the puck controlled and away from their own zone. I have no doubt the top lines will be able to score a couple goals per game, and beat up on weaker defenses. But how will they fare against forward cores that are bigger and faster than them? That was something that made past U20 leaders like Pas and Soltys so valuable.

Conclusion and Predictions

I have some concerns about each position group, but none more than what is in the net. Last time at the U20s, goaltending and defense really let team Poland down. It is hard to assess how good these groups are compared to the prior ones. I think the offense has more depth than some of the past U20 silver medals, but I’m not betting on a better defense or net situation net. I will put my prediction for this group at a bronze medal.

Estonia (Host) – this is a winnable game to me. While they are starting to make a lot of progress and have quite a few players in the Finnish junior leagues, they are the youngest team in the tournament and don’t really have any standout players. Should be an easy win for Poland.

France – The French will still be a formidable opponent but don’t possess the NHL draft caliber players at past tournaments. Still a solid roster, thanks to a good development program. It will be close, but I expect them to be too much for Poland.

Japan – A very uneven team, Japan brings some of the highest highs and lowest lows. They have three players playing the United State’s top junior, the USHL, including 2022 draft prospect Kenta Isogai. Isogai is a former teammate of Karol Sterbenz. Outside that club stats for most of their team are not even available. But if it is close to normal, Japan will score a few goals but ultimately surrender too many to overtake Poland.

Slovenia – Relegated from Group A the last time the U20s were held, Slovenia will be the team to beat. With plenty of great players from around Europe, unless there are some major chemistry issues. It is hard to see them not winning gold and earning promotion.

Ukraine – Now it is time for the wildcard Ukraine, a quickly regrowing program. LA Kings draft pick Artur Cholach will be leading the defensemen. Forward Bohdan Panasenko has put up a point per game average above .50 in the NAHL, and Daniil Trakht and Hlib Tkach have looked good in Finland and Sweden. The Ukraine junior system and league is weaker than Poland, but they have quite a few players in stronger leagues. I think Poland gets the win here, but I would not be surprised if Ukraine beats Poland.

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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

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2019 Top 50 Polish Men’s U23 Players. #38-33

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 38 through 33.

Players 50-45

Players 44-39

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

#38 – Patryk Gosztyla (D), 19, HK 32 Liptovsky Mikulas U20. Gosztyla is a player with defensive skills that are ready for professional hockey. It appears he will be getting that chance as he is leaving the Slovak junior leagues to join Cracovia Krakow. He is a steady defenseman and I think Krakow is a great place for him to develop. I see him becoming a player like Dawid Musiol. Gosztayla continues to improve his game year by year and there is still a lot of work to do. This is one of the rare cases though were I agree with a player returning to Poland for development reasons. He most likely will not get a chance to play against men in Slovakia, and that is what he needs to keep evolving his defensive game.

#37 – Michal Bernacki (F), 21, Zaglebie Sosnowiec. A homegrown player by Zaglebie Sosnowiec having never played anywhere else. He was an important part their of their team this year as they avoided relegation. He has a lot of goal scoring potential, thanks to his strong shot. He also is 6’3 and needs to learn how to use that size better to drive the net. His 9 goals this year in the PHL were the 7th most by U23 player in the PHL. It has already been a busy free agency for Zaglebie Sosnowiec, and they should be an improved team next year. Bernacki will likely have more chances to produce offensively with more talent around him.

 

 

#36 – Yevgeni Kamenev (D), 22, HC Presov. Kamenev was considered highly skilled for his age at one point and appeared ready to play professional hockey. In 2016-17, he was able to get a handful of games in with HC Detva in Slovakia’s second league. He also made his senior team debut for Poland playing one game at a Euro Ice Hockey Challenge. For the 2017-18 season, he went professional full time by signing with Polonia Bytom. He would only play 23 games and missed the U20 World Championships. He moved to a stronger team in Cracovia Krakow. He was having a slightly better year with Krakow and playing with PZHL u23 at times. He left Krakow though late in the year and moved back to the second Slovakian league. Well, he couldn’t save HC Presov, he was one of their better defensemen and earned a spot in their starting line up. He is a defensive first defenseman, but his offensive game is pretty good. I imagine Kamenev will look to play aboard next year again. His transition to professional hockey has not been as smooth as thought, but he still has potential. 

#35 – Krzysztof Bukowski (C), 17, CP de Meyrin. My favorite European hockey to watch outside of Poland is swiss. I love NLA and am overall really intrigued by Swiss hockey. When a Polish prospect popped up in the Swiss junior leagues I was instantly excited. Bukowski has shown off his talents for a smaller Swiss team in CP de Meyrin leading their U17 team in points, while finishing fourth on the U20 team. His 1.28 points per game in the U20 league was the most by a u17 player with at least 10 games played. His performance in the junior leagues earned him two big opportunities. He got to play some senior games in Swiss Division 1 where he put up 1 assist in 3 games for Meyrin. Then the bigger was getting to play a couple games with Genève-Servette U17 in the Elite Novizen, which is the top u17 league in Switzerland. Bukowski also made his IIHF debut for Poland scoring two goals at the U18s. CP de Meyrin has been relegated to Swiss Division 2 for next year, and I believe Bukowski will be moving to a stronger Swiss club.

#34 – Tomasz Skokan (D), 21, GKS Katowice. Skokan will be continuing to develop his game in Katowice for 3 more years after signing a new deal with the club. Last year was his first full year back in Poland after playing abroad in the United States in various USPHL leagues. He was always a leader on Poland’s junior teams at IIHF events. Former juniors coach David Leger on Skokan at the 2017-18 U20 World Championships, “He picked up everything that we wanted to do right away. He was among the best players at that tournament. He is an undercover real good player, very effective is in his battles, makes smart decisions with the puck, competes, a good example all the time. He is another one in that next generation of Polish players I think.” Skokan has a really solid two-way game that just needs to mature. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a huge breakout year for GKS Katowice next season. Risto Dufva and a strong  GKS Katowice defense should aid his development.

#33 – Maciej Rutkowski (F), 17, Krefelder EV 1981 U20. The second Krefleder player to appear on the list and not the last. Rutkowski was the youngest of the Polish players in Krefelder and had quite the year. He split time between Krefelder’s U17 and U20 squads and was above a point per game at both levels.

Team League GP G A PTS
Krefelder EV 1981 U17 Germany U17 18 11 14 25
Krefelder EV 1981 U20 DNL U20 2 26 6 25 31

Rutkowski also showed he is ready to play in the top level of the DNL after chipping in 5 points (2G, 3A) in 6 games when Krefelder was fighting for promotion. Rutkowski is a great offensive talent and a player like him being this low on the list just goes to show the depth of the system right now. He will most likely stay with Krefelder in the top DNL division next year and make his IIHF debut at the U18s for Poland, maybe even at the U20 World Championship.

Players 32-27    Players 12-10

Players 26-21     Players 9-8

Players 20-17

Players 16-13

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