After more delays, we are now into the top half of the rankings with our best 15 players. Some players in the top 15 definitely benefit from their reputation as their amount of games was limited. The next five players are a mix of players that have made big strides or taken a big fall in our rankings, along with one defender that continues to just miss out on making the top ten. We will also see our top-ranked goalie, a spot that was up for grabs after Sass aged out of the list.
Players had to be under 20 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. While most of the ranking is my opinion, numerous Polish hockey people contributed their thoughts on players. Ninety-five players were considered for the list and reviewed, and fifty players received a ranking. Players 50-31 will be revealed at the end of the series in the breakdown article. Only the top 30 players receive a report.
Rank – Player Name (Position), Age During Next Hockey Season, Team (Ranking in 2020, change in rankings)
15 – Katarzyna Zaborska (D), 19, Unia Oswiecim, (27, +12)
We finished the last article with two straight Oscwiecim players and open the list with one to make it three straight. Zaborska makes her biggest jump up the list in her final year in the rankings. The almost veteran of the PLHK at this point had a great season in the PLHK. The biggest reason for her large jump was she became a full-time member of Metropolis Katowice in the EWHL, playing 13 games. Zaborska was one of two U20 players to play in the EWHL for Poland this year. Clearly a sign of what the management and coaching staff think of her. She is definitely one to watch for senior national team games soon.
14 – Karolina Baran, (F), 19, KS Cracovia 1906 (9, -5)
Baran drops in her final year on the list. The talented forward remains a big part of Poland’s future. This drop was more about a couple of new players receiving huge debut rankings versus her own play. The Debica native posted 25 points (13G-12A-25PTS) in 16 games, down two points from her 2020 total. Her regular season 20 points were tied for fourth in the PLHK B. I would imagine Baran has a chance to start vying for national team spots soon, but no chances have come in the EWHL.
13 – Alicja Kobus, (F), 17, PTH Kozice Poznan (18, +5)
Kobus climb up the rankings after posting 17 points in 12 regular-season games, and this was up from her last season in the PLHK A. Her 17 ponts were also sixth among all skaters in the PLHK B. Kobus would have made her third appearance for the U18 squad in 2021 if not for Covid. Kobus has performed exceptionally well at the B level but not as strong against Poland’s top teams, that should change as she continues to gain more experience.
12 – Helena Grzybowska (G), 19, PTH Kozice Poznan (12, +6)
Grzybowska took a large fall in the rankings and only didn’t fall further due to it being a covid season. A break-out year in 2020 saw success in the EWHL, PLHK, Slovakia’s top league, and, of course, on the international stage. It was the kind of performance that raised the question of Poland possibly having a lethal duo with Sass and Grzybowska. In 2021 though, Grzybowska only played in four games. The Poznan native posted a .760% save percentage in her lone regular-season appearance but did appear in form with a .906% save percentage in her three playoff appearances.
11 – Vanessa Patla (D), 19, Polonia Bytom (11, +0)
Patla stays consistent in her final ranking. A rise in the ranking would have happened if not for a big jumper. The Polonia Bytom two-way defender posted a new career-high in points after recording five goals and three assists in 15 games. Patla appeared in the EWHL during the 2020 season but did not make any appearances for the team in 2021. The soon-to-be 20-year-old is already a three-time PLHK champion.