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.
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.
|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.