After plenty of delay for the rankings this year, we have reached the final piece in the series. Yours truly worked one full-time job and one part-time job so I apologize for the time it took. The PLHK playoffs for the 2022 season are ongoing as I write, and we’re still counting down the 2021 performances. The Men’s side finally saw the reign of Łyszczarczyk end as he aged off the list, and Zygmunt took the top spot. Every year on the men’s side, Łyszczarczyk was on top since I started the rankings. The women’s list has a similar standing, as every year, the same player stands on top. While Łyszczarczyk was on top for coming close to heights that Poles have not seen in decades, our number one on the women’s side is a revolutionary player.
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)
1 – Wiktoria Sikorska (F), 19, Göteborg HC, (1, 0)
Sikorska is the number one player for a third straight year. A truly revolutionary player for Poland. The confidence and skill that she plays with offensively is so fun to watch. She is the first Polish player to play in Sweden’s SDHL. The SDHL is considered by many to be the best women’s league in Europe. Many top national teams see their country’s best play their club seasons in the SDHL.
In the offseason, Sikorska signed with Göteborg HC of the SDHL. The signing got a bit of fanfare from the Ice Garden of SBNation in their SDHL preview.
“Sikorska led Karvina in scoring with eight goals and 10 assists in nine games. So, if you’re looking for a rising star on an underdog team to fall in love with, Sikorska is the player for you.”
While not the greatest club in the SDHL, they keep fighting off relegation. Sikorska recorded two goals and four assists in six games for her first season. While not eye-popping numbers, they were seventh on her team. When the team averages 1.27 goals per game, there will be some offensive struggles all around. It is rare for a U18 player to even appear in the league. Her six points were eight among all U18 players, and her two goals were tied for sixth.
Playing in such a major league, we have access to more numbers and more data to look up. It helps paint a more accurate picture of a player’s season instead of just basic stats and the eye test. First, with a long history, we have plenty of seasons similar to Sikorskas; 71% of Sikorska’s matches had long SDHL careers after their U18 season. This is great news, as being an SDHL regular would be a new high for Polish hockey. Next, we also have a much better tool to help us see where Sikorska is in the SDHL, thanks to Mikael Nahabedian’s SDHL player comparable pool, which gives players ratings. Here is how Sikorska compares to the other top U18 forwards. While both on the lower end, her defensive game rated better than her offensive, which was interesting to me given how much we talk about her offensive game.
|Linnéa Pettersson Dove||20||19||29|
Last, from Mikael Nahabedian and the Ice Garden, we have N-WHKYe. Networked Women’s Hockey Equivalency (N-WHKYe) is a metric that allows for the standardization of offensive production across more than 40 Women’s hockey leagues worldwide. We have a better idea of how Sikorska would fare in North America’s PHF or Russia’s ZhHL. Sikorska’s N-WHKYe was a 0.06. Which is t-197, out of 285 forwards from the PHF, SDHL, and ZnHL. It ranked t-90 out of 119 forwards in the SDHL.
There were some struggles for sure this year, and that is expected. She smoothly grades out as a below-average forward in the SDHL. As impressive as Sikorksa is, she was never going to make a massive impact right away in Sweden. It is the best league in Europe for a reason, and it is a significant step up from Czechia’s top league and the EWHL. There will be some growing pains, especially with the quality of Göteborg HC. She is a rising star with no ceiling, and it is going to be fun watching her develop in one of the best leagues in Europe.