Captain Marek Bartanus continued his international slide at the 2005 IIHF World U18 Championship and a lack of hockey sense seems to be his biggest issue. Our series of exclusive reviews and notes continues with a look at Bartanus and 16 of his teammates on the sixth place Slovak squad, including solid performances from LW Juraj Mikus and goalie Vladimir Kovac.
Vladimir Kovac, G (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: the Slovak starter in the tournament .. played a solid opening game against the USA team, where he had to face numerous quality chances when the Slovak defense broke down .. stood on his head in the game against the Czech Republic, where he was the undisputed best player of the team as he held the Slovak chances for a turnover for two periods .. registered an off-game against Sweden and had to be replaced by backup Branislav Konrad .. found himself between the pipes again in the game against Russia and pulled off a decent performance despite the loss, named Slovak 'Player of the game' .. ranked fourth among tournament goaltenders in minutes played (332:06) .. ranked fourth among goaltenders with more than 120 minutes in save percentage (.9319) .. ranked third among tournament goaltenders in saves (181).
Scouting: plays more of a butterfly style .. an athletic goalie with strong reflexes and quickness .. a solid skater with a good lateral movement in the crease .. decent when moving side-to-side .. adequate anticipation of plays .. decent leg quickness which could still be upgraded .. can carry his team through pressure .. goes down too early sometimes, which makes him vulnerable in the top half of the net .. good at angling the shots into corners .. adequate when handling traffic in front of him .. tends to flop around in the crease and lose focus occasionally .. should improve on his positional play in the crease .. adequate stickhandling skills, stops the pucks that end up behind the line .. always showing temper in the games and communicating with his defensemen .. catches right.
Lukas Bohunicky, D (2006)
Tournament wrap-up: displayed solid first-step quickness for a big man and was arguably the toughest Slovak player in the opening game against the USA .. didn't show a noticeable offensive effort, but minimized the number of his famous bonehead plays .. more physical style suited him better .. adequate on the defensive side in the games against Czech Republic and Sweden, but couldn't move the puck effectively in the latter and was thinking of offense too much .. his defensive gaffe in the last game against Russia cost the Slovaks one goal, but Bohunicky partially made up for it with his take-no-prisoners style .. was steadier as the tournament went on, even if he still needs to find a way to upgrade his reliability and positional play .. overall not a bad showing for the late '87 born rearguard, but still not a top-notch one .. most penalized Slovak player (14 PIMs).
Scouting: a solid skater for a big man .. possesses a powerful stride and decent agility .. decent lateral movement and pivots .. shows a solid first-step quickness .. won't jump at you with silky stickhandling and should improve on his pass reception .. adequate passing skills .. makes hard passes with solid accuracy, but overlooks some passing lanes and misreads on offensive chances .. average offensive vision .. adequate hockey sense .. a hard shot from the point which needs to be upgraded in terms of accuracy .. a feisty defenseman .. likes to throw his body around and punish opposing players .. always goes for the hit but is progressing at staying in position when hitting .. works hard down low .. shows aggressive pinching .. a determined crease-clearer .. a late '87 born defenseman.
Vladimir Mihalik, D (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: registered a so-so start to the tournament against the U.S. with a lack of offensive support while not responding very aggressively to the USA player's tactics to use him as a hitting target .. couldn't make use of his size in the next game against Czech Republic .. improved his game against Sweden, controlling the plays more and filling a steady defensive role with a minimum of mistakes .. his upgraded mobility enabled him to support offense and operate in front of the opponent's slot in the game against Russia .. at 6''7'', the gigantic rearguard towered over all tournament players and even if he still possesses glaring weaknesses in his game, he displayed solid progress in his play this season and will be snatched in the draft probably higher than expected .. tied for +/- lead on Team Slovakia with Ondrej Otcenas and Tomas Brnak (+2).
Scouting: a hulking mammoth on skates .. thanks to the progress this season is now an adequate skater for such a big body .. decent lateral movement and agility .. adequate acceleration and top-end speed, but his skating still needs further polishing .. decent balance .. tends to be too static at times .. has to stay back in his own end to not be out-skated on the transitional play .. leaves significant space between him and the opposing players .. solid positional play .. average puckhandling skills .. needs to develop softer hands .. should use his giant frame more to his advantage and punish the opposing players more often .. uses his stick in the battles along the boards rather than his body.. very good reach and massive wingspan .. limited passing skills .. plays a low risk game, but doesn't support the offense a lot, dishing off the puck rather than looking for a passing lane instead .. is now more courageous in joining the rush .. should fire his adequately accurate shot from the point more often .. possesses some impressive tools, but will need patience in his development.
Juraj Mikus, LW (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: bounced back from the sub-par showing at the February Vlado Dzurilla Under-18 tournament and pulled off a delightful performance .. delivered steady quality performances in all games and even if he still showed holes in his game, he turned out to be the undisputed Slovak leader at forward .. lacks only elite first step and physical strength to rank himself among the most impressive forwards of this tournament .. was smart and patient in puck-possession during the opening two games .. named Slovak 'Player of the game' against Finland after a strong showing .. was left alone as the only quality player on the attack in the quarterfinal game against Sweden .. the last game against Russia was the only one where he could show up more .. only Phil Kessel's outburst in the gold-medal game made him tied for the crown of the tournament's best passer with 7 assists .. leading Slovak scorer (7 points) .. finished eighth in tournament scoring.
Scouting: a decent skater with an okay stride .. displays adequate top-end speed, but doesn't win skating races .. solid agility .. could upgrade on lower-body strength and balance .. possesses soft hands and smooth puckhandling skills .. an offensive forward who wants the puck .. very smooth and patient in puck-possession .. waits for plays to develop and then makes the right decision .. brings himself into scoring positions, but should develop a bigger variety of shots .. uses mostly his solid wrist or snap shot .. average defensive play .. needs to read the plays in his own zone better .. should mark his man faster and return to his own end with more determination .. prone to inconsistent showings .. doesn't drive the net hard and shows odd moments when he refuses to create and battle traffic .. should throw his body around more often and hit harder .. a right-shooting forward.
Mario Bliznak, C/RW (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: one of the very few players who didn't disappoint in the opening game against the USA and the deserving Slovak 'Player of the game' .. played a diligent, multi-purpose style and contributed adequately well on the defensive end .. proved that he isn't blessed with elite talent or skills, but emerged as a valuable workhorse who gives his best for the team to succeed .. showed particularly upgraded speed and agility .. his second game wasn't as strong as his first, as he didn't keep his feet moving, but still was up to par with the team .. the game against Sweden was solid for him as he found his two-way prowess again .. didn't create much in the last game against Russia, mainly due to the fact that the coach iced struggling forward Richard Lelkes and Marek Bartanus in favor of the better but not-so-experienced workhorse Bliznak.
Scouting: a solid skater with a fluid stride and above-average acceleration .. decent lower-body strength and agility .. a diligent, multi-purpose forward .. plays a belligerent style but tends to take the odd shift off .. is willing to muck in the corners and play where it hurts .. a decent hitter along the boards .. some filling out for him left to do .. shows a good commitment to the defensive duties .. spots his man quickly and blocks him .. adequate puckhandling skills and hand-eye coordination .. a solid tape-to-tape passer but could use better vision and hockey sense .. possesses an adequate variety of shots, but should use his slap shot more often .. a solid special units player .. isn't flashy but knows his role and fills it well.
Ondrej Otcenas, LW (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: hardly noticeable in the tournament opener against the USA where he struggled with the pace .. played slightly better in the game against the Czech Republic, battling around the opponent's slot and playing a more gritty style .. registered the best game of the tournament against Finland, scoring two goals and making the most of the scoring chances he got .. didn't disappoint against Sweden, filling a checking role, working hard and making life miserable for the Swedish players .. deserving Slovak 'Player of the game' against Sweden .. took a slight step back in his play against Russia, where he wasn't such a hardworking pest as in the previous match-up .. finished 15th in tournament scoring .. Slovak best goal scorer (4 goals) .. finished second in Team Slovakia scoring (5 points) .. tied for +/- lead on Team Slovakia with Vladimir Mihalik and Tomas Brnak (+2) .. highest shooting percentage on Team Slovakia (.2667).
Scouting: a sturdy skater with good lower-body strength and balance .. should work on his agility .. adequate first-step quickness and foot speed .. average stickhandling skills .. can't make nifty puck dekes and shows trouble when having to deal with difficult passes .. a hardworking player who will score the odd garbage goal .. doesn't impress with his in-close finishing skills, but executes well in the slot, looking for possible rebounds .. adequate passing skills .. a solid passer on powerplay units, but doesn't really impress with his vision or hockey sense .. solid, accurate wrist and snap shot with a decent release .. needs to upgrade on the accuracy of the slap shot .. tends to dive occasionally, but keeps his diving to an acceptable extent .. a traffic player who plays a belligerent style and digs for the pucks .. solid tenacity .. willing to throw solid hits .. doesn't tend to take odd shifts off .. a valuable asset on a checking line.
Matej Cunik, D (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: a disappointment when comparing his play to the last two games of the February Vlado Dzurilla Under-18 tournament .. skated on the elite Slovak defensive unit with Lukas Bohunicky but failed to effectively fill his role as the offensive-minded blueliner .. looked slow against the USA squad in the tournament opener and hardly created anything .. repeated the same shaky performance in the next game against the Czech Republic .. had problems when skating on the penalty killing unit against the Swedish powerplay in the quarterfinals, but from the offensive side registered his best game of the tournament .. not a significant factor in the game against Russia.
Scouting: a decent skater with adequate acceleration and lateral movement .. shows quick turns and adequate speed both straightaway and backwards, but a middle-sized defenseman still could use better wheels .. an above-average offensive flair .. solid puckhandling skills .. supports the offense well with his strong passing skills but is inconsistent.. adequate timing of his passes .. can make plays from both sides of the stick .. good on the powerplay units .. solid shot from the point with decent accuracy .. suffers from the odd positional lapse and is average in the defensive zone coverage .. needs to work harder down low and clear the crease with more determination .. doesn't play afraid, but isn't much of a physical force despite a decent stocky frame.
Tomas Brnak, D (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: the tournament's smallest defenseman was paired with the biggest one in Vladimir Mihalik to form the most curious duo of the tournament .. registered a slow start to the tournament with an off-game against the USA where he couldn't handle the big forwards effectively .. picked up his offensive prowess in the next game against the Czech Republic and delivered numerous quality passes .. played two good games against Switzerland and Sweden, where he was the only Slovak defenseman who made accurate outlet passes on a regular basis, but lacked physical strength .. named Slovak 'Player of the game' against Switzerland .. delivered an average performance against Russia, where he couldn't support the offense as well as in the previous contests .. tied for +/- lead on Team Slovakia with Vladimir Mihalik and Ondrej Otcenas (+2).
Scouting: a solid skater with an okay stride .. good bursts of speed .. solid agility and lateral movement .. still could use more balance .. difficult to out-skate .. compensates his severe size deficiency with his creativity and smarts .. decent stickhandling skills and hand-eye coordination .. possesses adequate offensive flair .. solid offensive vision and awareness of his linemates .. capable of delivering crisp accurate outlet passes .. occasionally tends to over-handle the puck .. won't ever be much of a physical presence .. too small and gets out-muscled in physical battles .. tends to use his stick instead of his body .. adequate pinching .. should upgrade on the pep of his shots from the point as he shows trouble with getting them through .. slap shot is too telegraphed .. okay hard snap shot .. useful as a powerplay quarterback .. stays in position and doesn't fly around.
Marek Biro, D (2006)
Tournament wrap-up: the youngest Slovak blueliner didn't turn heads with his play, but was a steady defensive workhorse on the back end .. didn't see a lot of ice time .. focused on his role and filled it conscientiously .. showed that he doesn't have many tools to become more than a defensive blueliner who will take care of his own end .. marked his man and did his best to take him out of the play .. misread on offensive plays and hardly saw any powerplay time .. a good learning experience for the underaged defenseman, but no great performance.
Scouting: an average skater .. needs to develop a smoother stride and bigger bursts of speed .. gets beaten on turns and when asked to move laterally .. decent balance and lower-body strength .. average puckhandling skills .. shows a tough time when having to deal with difficult passes on the backhand side .. is at his best when playing a simple game with the puck .. uses his size to his advantage and is willing to throw the occasional hit .. decent crease-clearer .. a solid force in his own zone with his reach .. should upgrade on positional play in the defensive zone .. isn't very effective on powerplay units as he doesn't have the vision to quarterback them .. lacks the hockey sense needed to emerge as a two-way force .. a solid hard slap shot only hardly gets through .. an '88 born defenseman.
Richard Lelkes, C/LW (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: should have finally proven himself with this tournament after a disastrous international season, but failed to deliver a convincing performance .. virtually repeated his play from the February Vlado Dzurilla Under-18 tournament .. didn't pull off an impressive showing in any of the tournament games and didn't step up with his play .. skated with his head down for much of the tournament and refused to use his excellent size .. lacked effectiveness with the puck and lost one-on-one battles .. still 'sleeping' during his shifts .. lack of hockey sense is the major issue with this player .. possesses the size, but not the heart, smarts and determination to become a strong force .. finished third on Team Slovakia scoring (4 points) .. second-best Slovak goal scorer (2 goals).
Scouting: an adequate skater for a big man .. solid balance and lower-body strength .. should develop better first-step quickness and agility .. adequate puckhandling skills .. should be more lethal in one-on-one situations .. makes hard passes but lacks the hockey sense to create effective plays .. plays with his head down .. upgraded persistence around the goal area .. a heavy slap shot and a decent wrist shot, but sometimes looks for the open man rather than firing the puck .. willing to return to his own end, but has to mark his man better .. tends to take the odd shift off and doesn't look very interested in the games .. blessed with very good physical tools, but isn't using them at all most of the time .. a right-shooting forward.
Marek Bartanus, LW (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: the Slovak captain did nothing to impress all tournament long .. should have bounced back from an uninspiring performance at the February Under-18 Vlado Dzurilla tournament, but continued his international slump and faded .. skated on the elite line .. virtually invisible during the first two games against the USA and Czech Republic .. registered some solid shifts during the final two games against Sweden and Russia, but the vast majority of his on-ice performance was far from a quality one .. the lack of hockey sense is the most glaring issue with the sized forward and his stock is going to take a dive.
Scouting: a very good skater for a big man .. an effortless stride and above-average first-step quickness .. solid agility and balance .. soft hands and swift puckhandling skills .. can maneuver in heavy traffic and execute at top speed .. makes hard passes, but needs to upgrade on timing .. a strong wrist and snap shot .. could use his hard, accurate slap shot to a bigger extent .. tends to take the odd shift off .. not impressive when playing off the puck .. his intensity in the defensive zone drops .. needs to develop a bigger commitment to the defensive play .. isn't playing afraid and is solid in traffic, but should use more aggressiveness .. sticks his nose into corner battles .. prone to some undisciplined fouls .. shoots right.
Tomas Marcinko, C (2006)
Tournament wrap-up: centered the elite line .. the first game against the USA was an off-showing for him when he couldn't make effective plays and didn't find his usual defensive awareness .. conscientious on the backcheck and returned to the defensive end as first from the forward trio in the second game against Czech Republic .. lacked creativity with the puck and faded for much of the quarterfinal game against Sweden despite firing the puck several times .. picked up his game by a little notch against Russia with an adequate two-way showing, but looked lost in the offensive zone .. Team Slovakia's most frequent shooter (22 shots) .. defensive play once again saved the underager's showing at this tournament from being rated as sub-par.
Scouting: an average skater .. needs to upgrade on his acceleration and first-step quickness .. adequate balance and lower-body strength, but could use more agility in his play .. effective at both ends of the ice when on his game .. adequate vision and hockey sense .. good puckhandling skills and creativity .. needs to deal with difficult passes better.. uses his hard, accurate slap shot, but tends to looking for a passing lane instead of firing the puck .. solid wrist shot .. an above-average defensive awareness .. conscientious in returning back and is a good asset to the penalty killing units .. plays well in position in his own zone and stays with his man .. could dish out harder hits along the boards .. battles traffic effectively with his size, but should drive the net harder .. a right-shooting forward .. an '88 born player.
David Buc, RW (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: his decent performance in February set the stage for a potential breakthrough tournament for the bullish winger, but he wasn't able to meet the expectations .. destined for fourth-line duty all tournament long after a poor performance in the opener against the USA .. hardly caught up to the pace of the game in the contest against the Czech Republic and couldn't make use of his sturdy frame to check the opponents effectively .. looked lost also in the quarterfinal contest against Sweden and the fifth-place game against Russia, with pucks bouncing off his stick and ill-timed plays .. buried his potential draft stock with this performance.
Scouting: a solid skater with a fluid stride .. blessed with decent bursts of speed .. adequate top-end speed .. could use more agility in his play .. strong lower-body and balance .. not very impressive offensive instincts .. shoots the puck often, utilizing his solid shooting skills .. hard and accurate snap shot .. good wrist shot with a fast release .. isn't overly creative with the puck .. lacks vision and hockey sense .. forces opposition to make mistakes with his tight forechecking but is inconsistent there .. possesses the speed to return back in time on transitions, but is very raw in the defensive awareness .. should mark his man better .. doesn't back down from executing in traffic and isn't afraid of bigger opponents .. plays the body, but should hit more precisely.
Michal Klejna, RW (2006)
Tournament wrap-up: started the tournament as a member of the fourth line and saw a minimum of playing time in the first two match-ups against the USA and Czech Republic .. showed flashes of skill including a quick first step and swift puckhandling, which earned him a promotion to the elite line instead of the shaky Jakub Drabek .. busted in the quarterfinal game against Sweden, where he was floating all the time .. an average perimeter player also in the last game against Russia .. was particularly affected by the unimpressive play of the whole elite line, but failed to step up and provide offense when his linemates were struggling.
Scouting: an offensive winger with good skating skills .. has a fluid stride .. okay first-step quickness and top-end speed along with solid agility .. could use more balance on his skates as he still gets knocked down too easily .. a tricky puckhandler with solid hand-eye coordination .. a selfish player who needs to learn how to use his linemates more often .. even if he is capable of crisp accurate passes, he is greedy in puck possession during too many shifts and tries to deke his way to the opposing goal .. unleashes primarily a quick, accurate wrist shot .. doesn't show a commitment to the defensive play and needs to mark his man faster in the defensive zone .. doesn't have visible problems with the opponents playing his body, but isn't a player who throws hits every shift .. tends to take odd shifts off an is inconsistent .. a late '87 born player.
Michal Hrtus, LW (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: only a very limited factor in the tournament Slovak opener against USA .. made a decent impression on some shifts of the game against Czech Republic, but couldn't separate himself from the rest of the fading Slovak forwards .. continued the same trend in the playoff round against Sweden and Russia .. needs to be a factor for 60 minutes .. this tournament showed that he is a very raw player with numerous downsides, but with the overall progress he made this season he fits the mold of a possible late-bloomer for the 2006 draft.
Scouting: registered improvement in his skating skills .. a decent skater for a big man .. adequate agility and balance .. still should work on his first-step quickness and top-speed .. more of a playmaking forward .. solid stickhandling skills, but could use some work on his backhand .. decent hand-eye coordination .. aware of his linemates .. capable of making crisp, accurate passes, although they could use a bit more zip .. primarily uses his quick, hard wrist shot .. slap shot lacks hardness and accuracy .. an average player in one-on-one situations .. could use more flashiness .. doesn't play afraid and with his increased muscle mass is also progressing in his ability to lay a solid hit on the opponent .. shows noticeable reserves in his defensive awareness .. refuses to return back quickly on occasions and should mark his man faster.
Jakub Drabek, RW (2005)
Tournament wrap-up: started the tournament complementing Marek Bartanus and Tomas Marcinko on the elite line as the gritty banger, but didn't manage to find chemistry with his linemates and was subsequently demoted to fourth-line duty .. couldn't find a way to be effective in even one role and looked lost in all along .. benched during the quarterfinal game against Sweden .. should fill a checking role, but looked disinterested in getting physically involved .. a complete disappointment in this tournament, he left scouts shaking their heads as to where the player from the August Under-18 Junior Cup disappeared .. seriously hurt his draft stock.
Scouting: an above-average skater with adequate explosiveness .. possesses solid agility and top-end speed to go along with decent lower-body strength .. shows solid puckhandling skills .. likes to have the puck on his stick and create, but over-handles it on occasion .. more of a playmaker than sniper .. doesn't have elite vision and misses the odd passing lane .. doesn't hesitate to shoot the puck .. uses his good variety of shots, but needs work on his accuracy .. average in-close finishing skills .. boasts solid leadership skills but tends to take the odd shift off .. needs to further develop his average defensive awareness as his intensity in his own zone drops off .. added bulk during the off-season and this resulted in his upgraded confidence in traffic .. is willing to use his body, but could hit more often.
Branislav Konrad, G (2006)
Tournament wrap-up: served as the backup goaltender .. saw his only action of the tournament when he replaced starter Vladimir Kovac in the unsuccessful quarterfinal against Sweden .. handled the Swedish offensive raids better than Kovac and pulled off a decent performance in this match-up .. rode the bench again for the fifth-place game against Russia .. tournament's only goaltender to not give up a goal, but played just 27:40.
Scouting: an adequately-sized goalie who plays more of a butterfly style .. takes advantage of his strong reflexes and athleticism .. good resilience and dexterity .. decent anticipation of plays .. smart at reacting at the developing plays .. can move efficiently in the crease .. decent skating skills .. lateral movement can still be improved .. could use upgraded foot speed .. gets back up quickly when dropping to a butterfly .. needs to stay square to the shooter .. an adequately quick glove hand .. worse on the blocker side .. sometimes gets lost in traffic .. decent at angling the shots in the corners .. average stickhandler, but is willing to play the puck .. catches right .. a late '87 born goaltender.