Tag: Tomasz Skokan

“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?

Forwards

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.

Defensemen

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.

Goalies

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. #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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