This past season has seen a lot of top imports play in Poland. We have seen a lot of notable North American names. There has also been a considerable surge in European talent with players like Marek Hovorka and Kirill Lyamin. The arms race in the PHL has undoubtedly proved to bring a lot of new talent. It is a shame fans are not able to see it in person.
We recently made a team looking at the best North Americans to ever play in the PHL. Now is a chance to look at the top Europeans to ever play in Poland. The North American team had fewer roster choices to make as the number of North Americans to play in the PHL is pretty low. It also had the advantage of almost every North American to play in Poland has done so since I have been covering the PHL. That is not the case for Europeans in the PHL, as they have been an extended part of the PHL’s history. This means relying more on statistics and achievements. And the enormous error that some statistics and accomplishments are missing.
I feel this is going to make some roster choices more debated. I reached out to some of my contacts and hockey fans in Poland to measure some players’ impact. I did have a final choice on all picks. For rules on players, all European players are counted. Yes, Russian players are counted. Players must have played at least one entire season in the PHL. I will only consider what they accomplished in the PHL. What they did before or after does not matter. We will select 13 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goalies.
Milan Baranyk – Josef Vítek – Martin Vozdecký
Petr Šinágl – Richard Karl – Karel Horný
Marián Kacíř – Teddy Da Costa – Andrei Gusov
Roman Skutchan – Peter Tabaček – Marek Hovorka
Josef Vítek (2009-Present) – Vítek is the first pick for this list and would be on the all-time PHL team. The talented Czech forward has recorded 645 points in 671 games. He is 7th all-time in PHL scoring, with the most amount of points by a non-Polish player. As well as one of only seven players to record 300 or more goals in the PHL. He is a two-time PHL champion and a three-time Polish Cup winner. At 40-years-old, he is still going with a 20 point season for Stoczniowiec Gdansk in 2021.
Martin Vozdecký (2009-2018) – Vozdecký career in the PHL is nothing but achievement after achievement. No matter if it was for Sanok, Tychy, Polonia Bytom, Jastrzebie, or Katowice the talented forward had success. In 384 PHL games, the Czech forward posted 460 points. The second most by a non-Polish player. He is also a two-time PHL champion that has led the league in both goals and assists in separate seasons.
Milan Baranyk (03-04, 07-11, 12-14, 18) – The talented Czech forward appeared for five different PHL clubs, usually with stops in other European leagues between them. During his long career, Baranyk appeared in the PHL over 11 seasons. He recorded 444 points in 439 games, the 4th most points by a non-Polish player in the PHL. He also is a two-time PHL champion wining both with Podhale Nowy Targ.
Richard Kral (2011-2014) – Kral is one of the most distinguished Czech players ever, with a long and outstanding career in the Extraliga. He finished his career with JKH GKS Jastrzebie, where he recorded four straight years of at least 50 points. The Czech forward was always among the leaders in points, including leading the regular season in scoring in his first season. Overall he finished his PHL tenure with 257 points in 192 games. His 1.34 PPG is the third-highest by a non-Polish player.
Petr Šinágl (2014-2018) – The long-time Czech2 forward made an immediate impact when he joined KH Sanok in 2014 with a 75 point season. He would spend five years in the PHL with Sanok and Krakow. In total, he posted 312 points in 266 games. His point total is the seventh most by a non-Polish player in PHL history. Šinágl also won 3 PHL championships and a Polish Cup while leading the league in assists twice.
Karel Horný (00-02, 05-12) – Horný was a journeyman in Poland, appearing for six different clubs and two different Polish hockey levels. The Czech forward started his Poland career off by winning two straight PHL championships with Unia Oswiecim. He would later post high-scoring years for Krakow, Krynica, and Tychy. He later helped Oswiecim earn a promotion back to the PHL. Horný ranked up 298 regular season PHL points in his career.
Teddy Da Costa (06-10, 12-13, 18, 20-Present) – While Das Costa comes from a Polish mother, he is french born and represents France on the international stage. He helped raise awareness of the PHL by playing in the World Championships’ Elite Division while playing in the PHL. Da Costa has played for six different clubs in Poland, even spending part of his junior career with Zaglebie Sosnowiec. A ten-year ongoing PHL career has resulted in 386 points in 424 games.
Andrei Gusov (1995-2000) – Gusov, or Husau, could probably be named the head coach of this team if I named one. He is a multiple-time championship coach in the PHL. His playing career was even more impressive as the Belarusian national team forward played in parts of 6 PHL seasons. His six years included three with Podhale Nowy Targ. He ranked up at least 250 points in the league, some statistics are missing. He was the captain for SMS I Warszawa in 1999.
Marián Kacíř (2006-2011) – When you look at the mid-2000s, Imports were not as prominent. There was a huge star among them in Kacíř. He was an NHL draft pick, former AHL, DEL, Liiga, and SHL player. More importantly, he was a star in the PHL. In 6 years from 2005 to 2011, only the Polish legend Leszek Laszkiewicz had more points than Kacíř. And that 2011 season, the Czech forward played just nine games in the PHL. In 2008, he led the league in assists and points while helping Podhale Nowy Targ to a PHL championship. His final stat line was 298 points in 258 games.
Peter Tabaček (2008-2019) – When looking at the best forwards all time to appear for Unia Oswiecim, Tabaček has to be up there. The Slovak forward spent 12 years in the PHL, the first two with Naprzod Janow but the next ten straight with Oswiecim. For his career, he racked up 385 points in 503 games. Tabaček sits fifth in all-time points for Unia Oswiecim and is one of only five players to hit 300 points. He also won two bronze medals with the club and served as captain.
Marek Hovorka (2021-Present) – Hovorka had an excellent European career and was an Olympian for Slovakia at the 2012 winter games. He is now nearing the end of his career and is on a long-term deal with JKH GKS Jastrzebie, similar to Richard Kral. While his first PHL season is not yet even complete. The Slovakian forward led the regular season in scoring with 51 points in 35 games. That is nine more than second-place Zack Phillips. He is also poised to lead the league in overall scoring. While it may be only a year, the PHL is the strongest it has been in a while.
Roman Skutchan (99-02, 05-11) – Players seem to fall in love with the city of Gdansk and stay for a long time. That was the case with Roman Skutchan, who doesn’t have much of a record playing outside Poland. Of his 14 year career, 11 years were in Gdansk, including all but one of his first 12 seasons. In total, he recorded 370 points in 378 games for Stoczniowiec Gdansk.On a side note, his son Adam Skutchan played for MH Automatyka Gdansk in 2017 and 2018.
Vitali Semenchenko (1998-1999) – Semenchenko was a record-setter in the PHL. He set both the regular season and overall PHL scoring records. In 1999, he recorded 88 regular-season points and 11 playoff points. His overall record would stand until 2014, while his regular-season record lasted until 2016. Both of his records made it past a decade. His record-setting year was also pretty much double his point total the previous year with Podhale Nowy Targ. In his two seasons combined, the Ukrainian left-wing posted 139 points in 120 games.
Miroslav Zatko – Tomáš Jakeš
Pavel Mojžíš – Nicolas Besch
Peter Novajovský – Peter Bezuška
Miroslav Zatko (07-15, 17-18, 20-Present) – You don’t see many careers like Zatko. While they were not all in a row, he spent 13 years in the PHL, making the playoffs in 12 of them. While he never won a PHL championship, he did win two Polish Cups. The Slovakian defenseman also led PHL defenseman in goals, assists, and points numerous times. His 467 games are the most by any non-Polish defensemen, and his 313 points are the third most by any defensemen in PHL history.
Tomáš Jakeš (2006-2014) – The only defensemen to come close to the longevity that Zatko has in the PHL is Jakeš. He has played in nine PHL seasons, making the playoffs in eight of them. He is a PHL champion with Podhale in 2007 and then won three straight Polish Cups with GKS Tychy from 2008 to 2010. His final stat line came in at 204 points in 447 games, along with over 500 penalty minutes.
Pavel Mojžíš (2012-2015) – While a lot of players made it in parts thanks to their longevity in the PHL, Mojžíš was an offensive dynamo. He did stay for four years with Sanok and Tychy. He was such a force to reckon with production-wise that he would easily make the team with just his two best years. In 212 PHL games, the high-scoring Czech defenseman produced 183 points. The third most by any import on the back end. His .86 PPG is the most by any defenseman in PHL history with at least 50 games. He is also the only defensemen in PHL history with two seasons, where a defender averaged at least a point per game.
Nicolas Besch (2012-2015) – With Besch taking a spot on this list, 50% of all French players to play in the PHL made the team. He is a three-time PHL champion who also represents France at the IIHF elite level while playing in Poland. Besch recorded 149 points in 210 games. The french defender finished top 5 in scoring among defensemen in all of his PHL seasons.
Peter Novajovský (2016-Present) – Strong two-way play has made Novajovský one of the best defensemen in the PHL for this decade. He is a four-time PHL champion and one time Polish Cup winner. Since the Slovak defender arrived in Poland in 2016, only two defensemen have more points than him. Only one defenseman has a higher point per game among players with a min of 50 games. Novajovský continues to be a top defender for the top teams of Poland.
Peter Bezuška (2016-Present) – Bezuška joined the PHL, the same year as Novajosky. Both post pretty similar numbers. The Slovak defenseman has managed to stay healthy and be a workhorse for Unia Oswiecim, with whom he has spent his entire PHL career. His 254 games are the third most by a non-Polish defenseman in the PHL. He is only one of nine import defensemen to record 100 or more points in the PHL.
Martin Ivicic (2009-2012) – Ivicic impacted the scoresheet one way or another as the physical defenseman with strong two-way abilities. The Slovak defender posted 101 points in 144 games, along with 174 minutes. He bounced around in the PHL, playing with a different club in each of his PHL full seasons. His journeyman run resulted in a PHL champion with Podhale in 2010 and a Polish Cup with Sanok in 2011.
Ondřej Raszka (11-12, 14-Present) – Raszka is one of those players who has a chance at making an all-time PHL team, not just the European squad. His 308 games are the 6th most by any goalie in PHL history and the most by an import. His career .933 SV% is one of the highest among goalies in PHL history. Add in two-time PHL champion and one-time Polish Cup winner. Plus, being the backstop to so many great PHL clubs, he was an easy pick here.
Tomáš Fučík (17-18, 20) – Picking the second goalie was hard. There were a couple of goalies with longevity. Then you had a few goalies with great short runs. Fučík was right in the middle of those categories. The Czech goalie posted an SV% above .930% in all three of his PHL seasons. His run was also split and showed dominance upon his return in a better league on a worse team. That cemented him in the lineup to me. While his accomplishes don’t match others on this list, besides leading the 2020 regular season in save percentage. Each of his seasons ranks among the best goalie seasons in the PHL.
If you wanted to know which country had the most here you go.
Here some honorable mentions of players by their country: (Belarus) Andrei Prima (Czechia) Richard Bordowski, Dusan Adamcik, Pavel Urban, Michal Fikrt (Finland) Jesse Rohtla, Jarmo Jokila, Joni Haverinen (Kazaksthan) Yuri Karatayev, Alexander Artyomenko (Latvia) Maris Jass (Russia) Alexei Trandin, Denis Sergushkin (Slovakia) Milan Furo, Andrej Themár, Zoltan Kubat (Sweden) Kevin Lindskoug