Tag: Patryk Krezolek

4 Polish PHL Free Agents That Could Jump To a Stronger League

Another PHL season is in the books. It was a historic one as Katowice took home the Championship for the first time in 52 years. The Silver medal went to Unia Oswiecim, who made it to the finals for the first time since 2005. Last year’s championships, JKH GKS Jastrzebie, had to settle for bronze, while constant contenders Krakow and Tychy went home with nothing. It indeed was a changing of the guard season potentially in Poland. That change may continue as a few teams will have significant roster shake-ups.

As the war in Ukraine continues, it is unlikely that many Belarusian and Russian free agents will be brought back or into the PHL. Cracovia announced they will not be carrying any Russian players next year after having 12 on their Continental Cup-winning roster. We will see a lot more Poles as well in the PHL, with most imports now likely coming from Czechia, Finland, and Slovakia. We may also see the import level rise as many players won’t be venturing into Russia or Belarus’ top leagues next year. On top of all that, it will be interesting to see who is at the helm of each club; we already know Tom Coolen won’t be returning to Oswiecim.

With all that happening in Poland, there are always a few players who leave Poland after the season. Polish national team defensemen Oskar Jaśkiewicz already left for Sweden after Sosnowiec was eliminated from the playoffs. Last year, we saw Dominik Pas, Jan Soltys, and Kamil Walega try their hand abroad in Czechia and Slovakia. While Pas and Soltys returned home, Walega became an essential player for HK 32 Liptovsky Mikulas. Here are a few players that should attempt to follow in their footsteps.

Jakub Bukowski

Probably the most obvious one on the entire list. Bukowski broke out this year in the PHL with 29 goals in 45 games. This was tied for the second-most goals by a player in their age 21 season, the most since Kacper Guzik scored 29 in 2015. Bukowski is no stranger to playing outside of Poland, as he played a majority of his junior career in Czechia and Switzerland. His stock will never be higher than it is this season, and it would probably be the best for him to take a shot outside Poland after being the third-best goal scorer in Poland.

Patryk Krężołek

A big reason why I would want Bukowski to take the jump now is you never know how the next season will shake. Krężołek was the last young player to put up eye-popping goal numbers after scoring 37 goals between the 2020 and 2021 seasons. In 2022, he only managed 12 goals as a stacked GKS Katowice won a championship. He really turned it up in the playoffs, where in just 16 games he scored five of his goals and added eight assists. He has the size and ability to play outside Poland and maybe hit his ceiling in Katowice.

Damian Tomasik

One of the better puck-moving defensemen in Poland, the 25-year-old Tomasik, has played the last two years on a poor Podhale squad. He has also seen his production dip from his U23 seasons. In 2018 alone, he posted 27 points, compared to just 11 points over the past two years. He did miss most of the season in 2021, but still only two points in 15 games. Already represented by Hockey Progress Management, which has given plenty of other Poles chances abroad, it may be time for the former national team defenseman to try a new location to refresh his career.

Christian Mroczkowski

A bit of a cheat here, as we have Polish Candian Christian Mroczkowski. Mroczkowski has a great story of coming to Poland on a try-out from USports and becoming one of the most dominant power forwards in the country. He also gained Polish citizenship and began to represent Poland internationally. Since Robert Kalaber took the head coaching reign, Mroczkowski has been left off most national team rosters. He has proved himself in Poland with 173 points in 154 games. Rumors already suggest he gets plenty of offers to go abroad, and if the national team is not going to utilize him, it may be time to take one.

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2021 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #7-6

We are now at the lucky seven. The last ranking featured a few players that had run into some unfortunate career developments or had a season cut short due to covid. That is not the case with our following two players. Both in Poland or abroad, these players went into a senior league and crushed it. These are the kinds of players that make me so excited for Poland’s future, especially when a lot of things seem bleak for hockey in the country. What is so great about it is well is both players have such different paths and still became fantastic players. 

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 50-41Players 15-11
Players 40-31Players 10-8
Players 30-21
Players 20-16

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

7 – Patryk Krężołek (F), 23, KH GKS Katowice, (11, +4) 

Krężołek ends his tenure on the list with a fantastic season. The Krynica native has established himself as one of the best goal scorers in the PHL. Even though he suffered a late injury to miss the end of the season and playoffs, Krężołek posted a new career-high of 18 goals in 36 games, .5 goals per game average. Over the past two years, his 38 goals are the eighth-most by any player in Poland. The players above him all having had success outside Poland. His 38 goals during that span are also 11 more than the next U23 player. 

Krężołek is a pure goal scorer with great offensive instincts and is extremely smart and dangerous in front of an opponent’s goal. He proved that it wasn’t just a lucky case of the right time and place in 2020 by increasing his goal count in 2021. It wasn’t just in the goal-scoring department either, as the 6’1 forward recorded 15 assists for a new career-high in helpers. It was also a new career-high in points with 33, finishing first among Polish U23 players. Unfortunately, the year would end on a low point as Krężołek would injure his collarbone and it required surgery. 

Krężołek Goal vs Sosnowiec

Krężołek was also able to earn more chances with the national team as he played in two games during a Euro Ice Hockey Challenge tournament. He was also named to the three seas roster but could not play. For the 2021 season, the talented forward has already re-upped with GKS Katowice. He should continue to be a crucial part of Katowice and a growing presence on the Polish national team.

6 – Jakub Prokurat (F), 20, Krefelder EV 1981 U23, (14, +8) 

The most significant way in my book to show you’re a legit top prospect is to move to a senior league before you turn 20 and rank up strong production. That is precisely what Jakub Prokurat did in 2021. The 19-year-old forward has played in Germany since 2019. After proving himself in Germany’s top U20 league, he earned a spot on Krefelder EV 1981 U23. As the name suggests, they are a U23 team that plays in Germany’s third league, the Oberliga. The Oberliga is a common place for Polish players and PHL free-agent additions, and the league regularly transition wells to the PHL in terms of production. 

Prokurat showed he was good enough to play there with a great year, posting 23 points (3G-20A-PTS) in 41 games. His 20 assists were the second-most by a U20 in the Oberliga, while his 23 points were the fifth most. His season is unique, and there are only 12 production matches for him. The good news is that 100% of them went on to play in a league comparable to the PHL, and 25% played at least 50 games in a mid-level European league. While it may not suggest that Prokurat is going to be playing for a top European club, it looks he is guaranteed to be a solid professional with a great chance of doing that in a league stronger than the PHL. 

Speaking of the PHL, that is where the product of the Torun junior system will be heading next season as the Warszawa native had a successful tryout with Katowice. Playing for a lower-standing Oberliga team is probably not as good as playing for a top PHL team. GKS Katowice head coach Jacek Płachta is coming off coaching Obelriga squad Crocodiles Hamburg to three straight top-five finishes. It is an excellent chance for Prokurat to develop his skills and patch up the rest of his game. He has surpassed the junior ranks and is already a pro-ready player.

Players #5-4

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2020 Top 50 Men’s U23 Players. #11

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
Players 40-31 Player 12
Players 30-21
Players 20-16

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

11 – Patryk Krężołek (F), 22, GKS Katowice, (21, +10)

Krężołek was the ultimate net-front presence in Polish hockey this season. The 6’1 forward will win any battle for the puck in front of the net and has the art of tipping pucks down. He reminded me of former Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmström. This truly should earn him some national team consideration just to help with the powerplay.

Krzelok 1

While his net-front presence was the biggest thing I saw out of him this year, he is not a one-trick pony by any means. If the puck is on his stick and there is even a millimeter of an opening his accurate shot will find a way to bury the puck. He is a goal-scoring machine that has only become more dangerous with each passing season. Krężołek will likely be a consistent 20 goal scorer in the PHL, and maybe hit or at least flirt with 30 goal years.

PK 2

Krężołek posted new career highs this year with GKS Katowice. In 53 games, the former KTH Krynica junior player posted 20 goals and 10 assists. This was the first time he hit 20 goals in a year, which is very impressive when you consider the increased quality of the PHL this year, along with the fact he played six fewer games when compared to 2018-19. This led all U23 players in goals, and he finished fourth in points.  He did seem to struggle in games outside of Poland though, at the Continental Cup and Visegrad Cup tournaments, he would post just one assist in 13 games.

One of his more impressive feats as well was looking at the Janow effect. Janow was so bad this season it inflicted quite a few point totals, but zero of his goals came against Janow. Only one of his goals came against PZHL U23, meaning pretty much all his goals came against quality competition. That is something that has been really hard to find in the PHL this year with how many multi-point games young players posted against Janow and PZHL U23.

His career up to now has been a journey where the goal-scoring machine has faced his fair share of hurdles. He missed a majority of the 2017-18 season, including the U20 World Championships. Missing years like that can be a major blow for a young player as it is so important to their development. It didn’t seem to affect Krężołek at all who came back and did what he did best, ruin goalie’s save percentages.


He currently faces another hurdle this offseason. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, GKS Katowice released all their players on long term contracts as a cost-cutting maneuver. This means the young forward is now a free agent. He reportedly is being courted by both GKS Tychy and JKH GKS Jastrzebie, while Katowice is still hoping he would return on a new deal. His free agency should be one of the most interesting deals in Poland this offseason. If he goes to somewhere, where he’ll get ice time and powerplay chances I have no doubt he’ll repeat and grow on his success from this season. GKS Katowice put him on their first line and he more than excelled in the role.

His potential is a hard one to chart. Looking at how other players have fared in their age 21 seasons, we only see that nine other players have posted a 20 goal season at that age since 2000-2001. This list is an impressive one featuring Bartlomiej Neupauer, Damian Kapica, Damian Słaboń, Grzegorz Pasiut, and Teddy Da Costa. Of those ten players to record a 20 goal season in their age 21 season, Krężołek has the lowest assist and points per game totals.

pk 5

His points per game total is the 54th highest by an aged 21 player since 2000-2001. He has 29 production matches during this time span, the most popular outcome among these players is a top 6 forward on a PHL team, with national team careers ranging from regular to a bit sporadic, but not accomplishing much outside of Poland. Which is how I would describe Krężołek’s potential. He is going to be a great player in Poland, that should be on the national team in a top-nine role with powerplay time. I feel he has one of the highest floors among any player on this list, but is also the closest to reaching his ceiling. His ceiling isn’t bad at all either, as their not many players who will be able to record the goal numbers he does.

Player #10

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“Team Finland” 2019-20 PHL Team Previews: KH GKS Katowice

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

Lets put yourself in the shoes of KH GKS Katowice. After making it to the finals in the 2017-18 season, KH GKS Katowice had to settle for a bronze medal in 2018-19. This was a very disappointing result when the team finished first place in the PHL regular season. This included just losing 7 games along with scoring 200 plus goals while allowing less than 80. Now, of course, this was a disappointing result, but that regular season was so dominant can you really afford to make changes? KH GKS Katowice had an aggressive offseason. Only 10 players are returning from last year’s bronze medal team. This includes a change in the head coach as Tom Coolen is replaced by Risto Dufva. Are these new players enough to finally take Katowice to the top though?


Nestori Lähde – Grzegorz Pasiut – Patryk Krezolek

Tuukka Rajamäki – Jussi Makkonen – Jaakko Turtiainen

Tadej Cimzar – Oula Uski – Teddy Da Costa

Mateusz Michalski – Filip Starzynski – Kamil Paszek

Other forwards: Mikolaj Lopuski, Szymon Mularczyk

This offense features some great Polish players and a lot of talented players with a majority of the imports coming from Finland. This is easy explained by Finnish head coach Risto Dufva, we saw the same thing happen with Tomek Valtonen last year in Podhale. Jussi Makkonen is the most notable of those Finnish players, he has recorded over 700 games in the Liiga and over 330 points. I’m really curious to see how he will produce in the PHL. I have to imagine he should at least be a point per game player. Slovenia player Tadej Cimzar is a player that I’m really curious about. He had a really strong year in the Alps Hockey League, a breakout performance that it seemed like he once had the potential to achieve his junior days and finally hit it at 26-years-old.  Teddy Da Costa also returns to Poland after a year away. It will be his ninth PHL season. The talented French forward is honestly one of the biggest players to come out of the PHL this century. In terms of Polish players, the biggest name is Grzegorz Pasiut. Pasiut is such a talented player and a joy to watch. He has been a key member of 7 championship teams both in Belarus and Poland. Patryk Krezolek is the biggest young name of this forward group and I expect him to do quite well offensively this year. This could be a huge breakout year for him and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him representing Poland at quite a few international events. This group is supremely talented and there is no line here that wouldn’t be in the top 6 of most PHL teams. A lot of teams would love to even have Lopuski or Mularczyk, whom I couldn’t find a spot for in my initial roster. This group should have no problem being as strong as the one GKS Katowice showed last year.


Martin Cakajik – Dusan Devecka

Patryk Wajda  – Oskar Jaskiewicz

Damian Tomasik – Marcin Kolusz

Juuso Salmi – Miika Franssila

Other Defensemen: Oskar Krawczyk, Tomasz Skokan

The defense posses some of the top Polish defensemen. There are some really good imports surrounding them making this one of the best defenses in Poland. A big thing I like about this group is how many players are able to contribute on the offensive end. You don’t see a lot of defenses in Poland with such an aggressive defense attack. Oskar Jaskiewicz joined the team from Podhale. The 23-year-old is a really strong two-way defenseman with a preference for the defensive side. He reportedly had offers to move over to North America but chose to stay in Poland with a big part being head coach Risto Dufva. Patryk Wajda also made a similar choice of jumping from Podhale to GKS Katowice. The national team defender is a force on the back end. The best things come in threes and Marcin Kolusz was the third defensemen to make the move from Podhale. Kolusz already had a great career as a forward, but has found a second life to his career as a defenseman. His strong skating and puck handling skills really compliment the position well. He is able to effortlessly rush the puck up the ice. Dusan Devecka and Martin Cakajik are very similar, both are 39-year-old Slovakian defensemen in their third season with GKS Katowice. They are both all-around players that really bring a lot to the team as well. They are the kinda players you like to have young players learn more from, giving their longevity in leagues stronger than the PHL. One of those young players is Tomasz Skokan who plays a similar game to them. He will be out for a while with an injury, but when he returns this should be a big year for the 21-year-old defensemen. I love an aggresive defense that contributes offensively and GKS Katowice has that. This unit could contend for the best in the PHL.


Robin Rahm

Michal Kieler

The goaltending group is just as good as the offense and defense. Robin Rahm was a great choice to take over the reins from Kevin Lindskoug. Though If I had to bet my life on anything it would have been GKS Katowice signing a Finnish goaltender to be honest. Rahm made it to the Swedish Hockey League and posted okay numbers there, but also had a two-year ban for steroids. Rahm was a much better goaltender in the Allsvenskan posting save percentages in the .920%s. He also did well in Denmark but last year posted his lowest career save percentage, .901%, since 2013-14. This came in the EBEL, which is a very strong league. Rahm should be a great goalie in the PHL, but the goal is a championship and GKS Tychy’s offense showed no struggles against HC Bolzano goaltender Leland Irving, who posted a .922 SV% in the EBEL. Now, this is a very minor thing, but again the goal for GKS Katowice is a championship and the biggest roadblock to it is GKS Tychy. Both teams are so close so extremely minor things were used to make my decision.

Prediction: 2nd 

Yes GKS Katowice is an all-around good team. Every aspect of this team is at the top of the PHL. There is just one team that is slightly better in my opinion, but hey GKS Katowice won the first battle of the two teams 4-3, so maybe they can pull it off.

2019 Top 50 Polish Men’s U23 Players. #26-21

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 26 through 21.

Players 50-45

Players 44-39

Players 38-33

Players 32-27

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

#26 – Marcin Plachetka (F), 18, JKH GKS Jastrzebie U20. I like to judge players more on their club season than IIHF and international events. Plachetka was the 6th leading scorer on SMS PZHL Katowice and 10th in point per game among players in Poland’s U20 league. Both of these are impressive feats, but he is ranked above many of the players who finished above him. This is because of just how impressive Plachetka was during his stint with Poland U18. In the four exhibition games before the U18 World Championship, Plachetka managed two goals and two assists. Then at the U18s, he had two goals and three assists in five games. He was consistently Poland’s best forward. Whether that was killing penalties or being trusted with top offensive roles. 



#25 – Jakub Michalowski (D), 21, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. One of Poland’s finest young defensive defensemen. Michalowski has already earned a full-time defensive role in the PHL. He played a lot with the national team this year, getting five games at non-IIHF events. Michalowski’s biggest battle will be beating out other defensemen for a spot on team Poland. He is a strong skater, and he can shut down any opposing top line. His lack of offensive skills will hurt him as Poland continues to move more and more towards two-way defensemen. Michalowski has shown some decent puck skills, but not a threat to rush the puck. The strongest credit to him and why I would like to see more of him at the top level is the ability to break the puck out.

#24 – Dominik Jarosz (LW), 21, JKH GKS Jastrzebie. Long regarded as one of the best young players in Poland Jarosz has been representing Poland at IIHF events since he was 16. He always played above his age and at high levels for his age. This made his transition to the top level of hockey in Poland during 2015-16 season expected. At 20-years-old he has already played 154 regular season and playoff games in the PHL. He has been a good player in the PHL, that always feels like a candidate to break out offensively. He continues to be outproduced though by other younger PHL forwards like teammates Dominik Pas or Jan Soltys. Jarosz has a lot of the key abilities that Poland is looking for in forwards; speed and size. He already is good enough to make team Poland with his game away from the puck and was given those chances by Valtonen this year. If Jarosz can begin to produce offensively at a higher level, he would easily be a top 6 forward for Poland for years to come.

#23 – Olaf Bizacki (D), 20, GKS Tychy. Bizacki is a special defenseman with a complete toolset. He just needs to keep maturing his game. He has been named the best player on team Poland at the U18s, and the best defensemen at the 2018-2019 Division 1B U20 Championship. He has been one of the top players for Poland at the junior levels. The next step in his game is just to improve his all-around skill set against men’s teams. He will continue to have a lot of competition when it comes to getting chances on GKS Tychy’s defense. It may be a few years before we see Bizacki appear at a World Championship, but expect him to slowly earn a spot on team Poland. I imagine he will get some senior games this season.


#22 – Igor Smal (C), 19, MH Automatyka Gdansk. Smal turned pro full time this year at just 18-years-old and proved that he may be one of the top centers of the future for Poland. He had the 7th most points by a U20 player in the PHL. In the second league, he really showed off with nine goals and twelve assists in eight games. His 2.63 points per game were the second highest by any U20 player behind Kamil Walega. He played for team Poland at the U20 World Championships. His excellent offensive play continued there. Smal has performed well beyond his age and could begin to start getting senior international games as early as next year. The true question about Smal is what his ceiling is? It may not be as high as other forwards, and that is why he ends up outside the top 20.




#21 – Patryk Krezolek (F), 21, GKS Katowice. Krezolek recently earned a three year deal with GKS Katowice. Krezolek has been able to produce strong numbers in the PHL, despite his age. His 27 points were tied for the most by a U23 player in the PHL. He was able to recover strongly after not playing a lot during the 2017-18 season.  A player of outstanding offensive ability, Krezolek is extremely smart and always seems to be in the perfect position to make something happen. I would expect him to start consistently being a part of team Poland at international events. 

Players 20-17

Players 16-13

Players 12-10

Players 9-8

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