Didn't mean to impose...
So, the SB Nation hockey managers came together to run a SBN-wide NHL mock draft, and it came to me, and I went with the name that's been all over our comment sections (and in two of our draft posts), one Radek Faksa.
So who is this Radek Faksa, and what is my justification?
First, you need to have an idea of how the first 8 picks panned out in the mock draft...
- Edmonton Oilers --- Nail Yakupov, LW, Sarnia (OHL)
- Columbus Blue Jackets --- Filip Forsberg, RW, Leksands (SEL)
- Montreal Canadiens --- Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec (QMJHL)
- New York Islanders --- Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia (OHL)
- Toronto Maple Leafs --- Ryan Murray, D, Everett (WHL)
- Anaheim Ducks --- Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer (WHL)
- Minnesota Wild --- Jacob Trouba, D, USNTDP (USHL)
- Carolina Hurricanes --- Teuvo Teravainen, LW,C, Jokerit (SM-liiga)
- Winnipeg Jets --- Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener (OHL)
As you can see, beloved Teravainen was taken right before us, which is depressing, but you know it's going to happen, especially if there's a run on the top defencemen as there was in this draft. As for Faksa, here are the vitals:
|Czech Republic U20||International/WJC|
|2010-11||HC Trinec U20/U18||Czech U20/U18||74||35||41||76||72|
|Czech Republic U18||International/WJC|
|2009-10||HC Trinec U20/U18/U16||Czech U20/U18/U16||51||28||25||53||66|
|Czech Republic U16||International|
What I love about this guy's last three years is that he's been a scorer everywhere, he's been a grinder everywhere, and he even popped up on an HFBoards discussions post of 2012 prospects in 2009 (from a Czech commenter) alongside Tomas Hertl and Martin Frk. So you know he's been on the radar for awhile, and hasn't really gone away. That's about as close to consistent testimony for a prospect as you're going to get. As for more-tangible testimonies:
Faksa is a big, strong two-way center who can skate very well for his size...[he] has an above average shot, is a good passer, and is never afraid to engage physically....capable of producing offense and is an elite defensive forward...
Faksa has good size and has demonstrated a consistent ability to be an effective two-way center that is capable of using his size to his advantage. He has an adapt (sic) scoring touch and occasionally shows flashes of high-end offense...
Faksa owns a hard accurate shot with good velocity and with softy playmaking hands and above-average puck protections skills he's a difficult player to compete against. Radek's best asset remains his overall balanced game and while he does not excel in one particular skill or area he offers a well-rounded package...his hockey sense is extremely underrated and it's an area that has many people thinking he is capable of reaching another offensive level.
- Brendan Ross, The Hockey Writers
Faksa pairs outstanding hockey sense and offensive insticts (sic) with his very good vision and passing skills to be an excellent playmaker. He also has a good wrist shot with an excellent release. Faksa is an above average skater, with good speed and strong balance which makes him difficult to knock off the puck. He isn't afraid to go into traffic and to take hits to make plays for the [Kitchener] Rangers...Faksa is also an excellent defensive player.
- Ben Kerr, Last Word On Sports
Outside of his aggressiveness, his other strong attributes are his strength down low and along the boards. He is very strong at wining (sic) puck battles, using his frame to shield out opposition defenders...He makes some very impressive and crisp passes in the offensive zone. He is a very strong skater who shows above average footwork and mobility. He accelerates quickly and displays strong outside speed...To this point he is one of the more NHL ready prospects for the NHL Draft, and projects out as a solid top 6 forward at the next level.
- Sean Lafortune, The Prospect Blog
Projecting as a two-way power-forward. Faksa uses his solid skating and ample frame to protect the puck on the rush and win battles all over the ice. He's fast but lacks the explosiveness out of the blocks that the true elite skaters in this class possess. He has very solid balance and it takes some real oomph to get him off his skates.
Faksa is extremely reliable defensively and backchecks diligently. Using his speed to recover and break up odd-man rushes, he can out-muscle opponents for positioning or strip them of the puck. Because of his size, athleticism and defensive willingness, he could easily become a shutdown-forward at the NHL level.
- Bob Mand, NHLMockDraft.org
...he’s not as offensively gifted as a potential top-10 pick up front can be.
- Cordell (link above)
Faksa lacks a wow factor in his game.
- The Scouting Report
...he does not excel in one particular skill or area...
We'd...like to see Faksa use his size advantage to be a more effective body checker, especially on the forecheck...[He] could stand to improve on his faceoff skills in order to be a true shutdown centre in the NHL.
If he wants to continue to be a strong and physical down low player at the NHL [level], he needs to continue to develop his physical strength. Secondly, Faksa does struggle at times in the faceoff circle.
Detractors will point to Radek's skill level as something short of elite. He's not really the type to wow with incredible displays of puck-handling (though he's got some nice power moves)...
Boy, that sure sounds like a Mark Scheifele-type player...though the ready-for-NHL defensively part sounds like Sean Couturier-level defence. Either way, it's important to remember we already have "wow" players (Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, Alexander Burmistrov), so it's not necessarily a bad thing to have solid, two-way, lunchpail types. I will say the faceoff thing is a nagging concern, but oh well. The final word goes to the best, Corey Pronman:
He's a solid to above-average skater with nice acceleration...who can get to a desirable top speed. Faksa's puck skills are above-average as well and he's certainly effective controlling the puck. He will show the ability to be a good puck distributer (sic), though I have heard conflicting reports on this area of his game from scouts as some think he's just solid and other (sic) think potentially high end. How well he has adjusted to the OHL pace has been impressive as he makes quick decisions in a fast Junior league. Faksa shows very good dependability in the defensive end and scouts I've talked to rave about his defensive game which is high-end potentially and creates a lot of value when combined with his skill set. He can kill penalties effectively and has been regularly relied on to play high-leverage minutes in both ends. He also has no fear of getting involved with the physical game as he will battle hard in the corners, take his checks with the body, and drive to the net with regularity.
You know what? I'm okay with picking that at #9.