Tag: Mateusz Bezwinski

2021 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #30-21

The top 50 list continues to march on as the hockey season as already started. We are starting to hit the big names on the list. In this list, I separate players into four tiers based on their floors. The fourth and last tier are players ranked 80-50. These are players I feel will have a chance to make the PHL, but no guarantee. The third tier is players I think will have PHL careers but will not be your top-line players. The second tier is players I view with a chance to become top liners in Poland. The first and final tiers are your players I feel can be good players or stars outside of Poland. Right now, we are just about at the end of tier 3. 

The next set of players are primarily big risers. Only two of the following ten players fell in our rankings. When I say big risers, I mean it as well. Some of the players next up are the players I underestimated the most. We got to see a majority of the players spend their entire season in the PHL. 

Players had to be under the age of 23 and at least 16-years-old on June 30th, 2021. Players are judged 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

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

30 – Miłosz Noworyta (D), 22, Unia Oświęcim, (27, -3) 

Noworyta has made appearances for Oswiecim for the past three years, working his way to a full-time roster member last season. This year, he still spent more than a majority of his time with the senior squad. But found himself mostly relegated to the fourth line of defense with his older brother. He also missed a few games and played a couple of matches at the MHL level. His defensive play is the most notable highlight of his game, while his offensive game is lacking. While with the team, Unia Oswiecim has become more and more of a force in the PHL. They have continued to bring in better defenders ahead of him, which has played a part in dampening his development. 

29 – Konrad Filipek (F), 22, STS Sanok (32, +3)

Filipek has slowly been working his way up the Sanok system playing with the club in the MHL and third tier of Slovak hockey. Now this year, he finally got a full-time shot at the senior level of the PHL. He responded with a goal and five assists in 36 games. It was 6th among points for players his age. His late birthday allowed him to play at international events in Poland as one of the most mature players. Which always helped him stand out a bit. Now he is showing that was not the only reason why though. He does turn 22 in the middle of the season, he will need to show he belongs higher up the line up soon.

28 – Krystian Mocarski (F), 22, Stoczniowiec Gdansk, (55, +27) 

The Gdansk situation was not going to be an easy one for most players. A couple of players smashed it out of the park though, one of them was Krystian Mocarski. Mocarski had an excellent year for the blue and white in northern Poland. In total, he recorded eight goals and seven assists in 36 games. It was tied for 9th among U23 PHL players in terms of points, and his .42 PPG game average was 11th among U23 skaters. It was also second on all of Gdansk for points. Plus his total was also tied 44th among all Polish forward since the 2010 season in points per game. Next year Mocarski is moving to a much better Sanok team, and I’m excited to see how it goes. 

27 – Jakub Blanik (F), 21, Zaglebie Sosnowiec (20, -7)

Last year Blanik went to Sosnowiec in search of more chances after he was deemed too small for JKH GKS Jastrzebie. It was a breakout year for the 5’7 forward who posted 7 points in 17 games with Sosnowiec, though he was also pointless in 13 games with PZHL U23. This year, he was scheduled to get a more significant role with Sosnowiec on their weaker roster. Blanik was one of the players that suffered from a watered down roster, as he posted a meager two goals and one assist in 31 games. His .10 point per game average was 30th among U23 PHL forwards. This was a rough year for a good player, who should be able to recover. 

26 – Adrian Gromadzki (F), 17, HC Dynamo Pardubice U17 (NR)

Gromadzki would have been ranked last year if he met the age requirement. He was, unfortunately, playing in a Czechia junior system that shut down less than ten games in. He recorded three goals and four assists in his five games, Which were 9th among players in points per game that played five games in their draft-eligible -2 season. He has got the size and offensive touch that will get him attention outside Poland. He is set to play at the Czech U20 level next season. 

25 – Jakub Bukowski (F), 21, STS Sanok (64, +36)

Bukowski has long been a good player for a long time abroad, but it was mainly in the second level of junior leagues in Czechia and Switzerland. Still, he has shown a lot of promise, and we put him as the U23 player to watch on Sanok. Most of the professional level hockey players in Poland, Bukowski delivered on that with five goals and six assists in 40 games. The second most points by a player in the draft-eligible +2 season. His ceiling is hard to tell, and he will need to continue to bulk up. The more time we get with him on Sanok, especially on the team improves, will help see what he can fully become. Right now, though, it appears his floor is a solid PHL middle-six forward. 

24 – Sebastian Lipiński (G), 21, Unia Oswiecim (31, +7)

I think imports have a considerable place in Polish hockey, but there is no doubt that there is starting to be a problem with how few young goalies are playing.  Lipiński is our top-ranked goalie who played four games in the PHL last year. He recorded a save percentage of .900, which is the highest of his career in the PHL. The rumors suggest that Lipiński will be playing in the U.K.’s NIHL, the second level of men’s hockey in the country. Not much else to say about it. There is a problem with Polish goalie development in a significant way. There is nowhere for them to play appropriately. 

23 – Kacper Gruzla (F), 22, GKS Tychy (49, +26)

From barely making the top 50 to being right smack dab in the middle, Gruzla comes in at 23. Gruzla forced the Tychy staff to play him as much as possible. This was the first big taste of the PHL for the Mikolow native. He had previously played 14 games with PZHL U23, but only one with GKS Tychy. This year, he found himself with 22 games and responded with five goals and three assists. His nine points tied him for the 13th best point per game average among all U23 skaters, it is tied 9th among Polish players. Gruzla went from a young player looking to make an impression to a part of GKS Tychy’s everyday lineup. 

22- Klaudiusz Libik (D), 20, Vålerenga U21 (12, -10)

Libik is a player I like a lot and I see a chance for Poland to have something their lineup often lacks. Which is a defenseman good enough to play in leagues stronger than the PHL. Libik worked his way up to the top junior leagues of Norway. In the end, his lack of experience, inconsistency, and quick changing of teams has resulted in a player with mixed development. This past year Libik managed a goal and an assist in seven games with Vålerenga U21, his third U21 junior team. 

Now next year, he will be turning professional in Norways’ 2nd league. This is the perfect place for him to gain constant playing time against senior talent while developing. Hopefully, his flaws should not bite his game as much. 

21 – Mateusz Bezwiński (F), 20, Cracovia Krakow, (26, +5)

Bezwiński’s improvement seems to get larger and larger every year. As the soon-to-be 20-year-old finished 5th in points among U20 skaters with three goals and three assists in 19 games, it was 3rd in points per game. In the MHL, he recorded 12 points in nine games, which is a tad bit better point per game average than the previous year. This is a bit more notable because of how many players lost points from the year prior. Krakow has a large batch of young forwards; hopefully, Bezwiński’s growth rate continues. He no doubt would have been one of the leaders at the U20s this year for 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. #32-27

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 32 through 27.

Players 50-45

Players 44-39

Players 38-33

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

#32 – Armen Khoperia (D), 19, Zaglebie Sosnowiec. Khoperia really took a step forward this season and proved that he should be playing in the PHL next season. At such a young age, it is a good sign with how well both ends of his games have developed. He still has a lot to learn but should be one of Poland’s best defensemen at the U20 World Championship next year. He will also likely spend a lot of the year with PZHL U23. I think he is a really good piece for other young defensemen to be around. A trustable defensive partner.

#31 – Kamil Wróbel (C), 22, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. Another player on the list from Jastrzebie. Wrobel previously shot up in my rankings after a strong 2016-17 season, he had 10 goals and 4 assists in 36 games. He was also a leader for Poland at the U20 World Championships finished tied for 3rd on the team in points with 5 (4G, 1A). There were a lot of high hopes for him going into 2017-18, but he regressed and only managed 5 goals and 3 assists in 35 games. This year though, Wrobel re-emerged with 11 goals and 16 assists in 45 games. This tied him with Patryk Krezolek for the most points by a U23 player in Poland. Wrobel is an all-around strong player and should be a leader on Jastrezebie next season. He was named to the roster for Poland once during the 2018-19 season, and I imagine we will see more of him with team Poland next year.

#30 – Mateusz Bezwinski (F/D), 18, SMS Torun.  Bezwinski is a special player because of his ability to play forward and defense. He would be considered a top prospect at either of his positions. This year, with SMS Torun, he had 21 goals in 23 games in Poland’s second league. That is a remarkable feat, especially at his young age. It was the most goals by any U18 player in the league. He kept the scoring going by recording 5 goals and 5 assist at the U18s. He reportedly may move up to the PHL next year and is training with Cracovia Krakow. At the U18s, he was used as a forward, while it appears that he was used as a defenseman by SMS Torun this year. It will be interesting to see what position they use him in at Cracovia. I feel he would be best suited to continue at forward, given his goal-scoring ability.

 

#29 – Fabian Kapica (F), 17, ETC Crimmitschau U17. The youngest player on my list and one of the few who has yet to play for Poland at an IIHF event yet. Kapica was already a highly regarded in prospect in Poland, but his stock reached new heights when he moved to the German junior leagues. In the second level of the U16 league, he had 4 goals and 5 assist in his single game there. At the top U16 league, Kapica had 22 goals and 19 assists in 16 games. Kapica has not stopped his offensive run through of the German junior leagues. In the top u17 league with Crimmitschau U17, he led the North Qualification Round in points with 16 (7G, 9A). Kapica finished the year with 10 goals and 18 assists in 28 games. This season should be the one where we see Kapica make his debut for team Poland as he continues to move up the German junior system.

#28 – Michal Narog (D), 18, SMS Torun. Narog has to be the player that had the most significant rise in their stock this year. In 2016-17, Narog was still considered a fine defensive prospect, but nothing special. This year he exploded on to the scene and put up incredible numbers. In 23 games in the Polish second league, Narog posted 11 goals and 19 assists. At the U18s in a line up that was loaded with other strong offensive defensemen, Narog managed to outproduce them with a whopping 2 goals and 10 assists in 5 games. This was the third most points in the entire tournament.  Narog needs to get some playing time with a stronger team and possibly stronger league. His offensive ability is awe-inspiring. He is really good at walking the defensive line and is almost like a quarterback at the back end.

#27 – Lukasz Krzemien (C), 22, Polonia Bytom. I have a lot of respect for Krzemien. In what was an awful year for Polonia Bytom due to to their financial conditions, he stuck by the team and lead the players at such a young age. He put the struggling team on his back and tried to get as much out of the experience as possible. Numerous stars and longtime players of Polonia continued to leave, but not Krzemien. He stayed with the sinking ship. He led the team in points with 20 (8G, 12A). Krzemien will now be moving on to a stronger club in Unia Oswiecim. He is a talented player who deserves more of an actual shot to show what he can do. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to earn a roster spot on a Euro Ice Hockey Challenge team next year.

Players 26-21    Players 12-10

Players 20-17     Players 9-8

Players 16-13

Players 16-13

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Noureddine Bettahar Stays in the DEL2, Oskar Jaskiewicz Moves to Katowice. Weekly Offseason Update

This week in Polish hockey saw GKS Katowice take another former Podhale player, Cracovia invest in some young defensemen, and GKS Tychy getting a lot stronger, while outside the PHL Bettahar has found a DEL 2 club.

Noureddine Bettahar – One year deal with EC Kassel Huskies. Bettahar is going to be extending his stay in the German second league and with his fourth team in 4 years. Bettahar will be reuniting with Tim Kehler, one of his former coaches, in the team announcement of the signing Kehler said, “We are delighted to have signed Noureddine Bettahar for next season. I already know him from my time in Frankfurt in 2014. Noureddine is a young player who has not exhausted his full potential yet. He is a tall guy, but also runs well and also plays physically. I think that with the right environment and a given chance, Noureddine will be playing a strong season in Kassel.” (Translated via Google Translate) Bettahar was set to make his senior team Poland debut last year, til being concussed in a practice prior to the EIHC. This concussion ended up derailing his season as he missed a large chunk of the year and did not produce as well offensively when he returned to the line-up. He was not appointed to any other national team rosters. His national team status is once again up in the air.

Oskar Jaskiewicz – 2 year deal with GKS Katowice. National team defensemen Oskar Jaskiewicz has become the third national team player to switch to Katowice this offseason joining Mateusz Michalski and Patryk Wajda. The soon to be 23-year-old defensemen is one of Poland’s most promising young defensemen. It was rumored he was originally looking at offers in North America. He attributed part of the reason he signed in Katowice was Finnish coach Risto Dufva.

Radoslaw Sawicki – 2 year deal with GKS Katowice. GKS Katowice also extended the contract of Sawicki for 2 more years. The 23-year-old center had 25 points (7G, 18A) in 42 games last season.

Henrich Jabornik – 1 year deal JKH GKS Jastrzebie. The first new import in the PHL is here as Henrich Jabornik inked a one year deal with Jastrzebie. The 28-year-old represented Slovakia at the U18 and U20 IIHF World Championships in his junior career. He has spent in the last 3 years in the Erste Liga most recently with Dunaújvárosi Acélbikák. There he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 44 games.

Mike Cichy and Alex Szczechura to stay with GKS Tychy, and be joined by Jesse Rohtla. It appears that Mike Cichy and Alex Szczechura are close to new deals to stay in GKS Tychy as well is Jess Rohtla. Cichy and Szczechura have been two of the top scorers in the PHL since they arrived in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The two have played together every year since 2015-16. Rohtla arrived in the PHL in 2017-18 and lead the league in points with 53 (13G, 40). He returned to Poland this season and again played with GKS Katowice, where he had 44 points (22G, 22A) in 42 games. Now it appears the playmaking center is joining two of the other top scoring forwards in the PHL.

Patryk Gosztyla and Mateusz Bezwinski training with Cracovia Krakow. It appears Cracovia has invested in injecting some young defensemen in their line up next year. Gosztyla had played in the Slovak juniors system since 2015-16. The 19-year-old played last year for HK 32 Liptovsky Mikulas U20 and represented Poland at the U20 World Championship. Mateusz Bezwinski was a standout player at the U18s for Poland. The 17-year-old played mostly with SMS Torun last year, where he had 33 points (21G, 12A) in 22 games. He can move up and down the lineup.

Gdansk may have their goalie in Tomas Fucik. According to hokej.net, the 25-year-old netminder is close to a deal with Gdansk. Fucik previously played in Poland from 2016 to 2018 with JKH GKS Jastrzebie. He posted sv% above .930 in both his seasons where he played a total of 42 games. He spent most of last season in the Tipsort Liga with MsHK Zilina.

If you want to keep up with all the offseason news, make sure to follow us on Twitter @PolandHockey and like our Facebook page.