The 2017 and 2018 entry drafts are what I would consider relatively strong showings for prospects from the Czech Republic. I have already gone into quite some detail discussing prospects such as Filip Chytil and Ostap Safin, but other notable prospects this year include Jakub Galvas, David Kvasnicka, Jan Kern, Ondrej Chrtek, Jan Hladonik, Radim Salda, Jan Vaclavek, Daniel Bukac, Michal Stinil, among a host of others. Next year, you’ll be hearing a lot about a player who I think has top 10 potential in a year that’s expected to be riddled with elite-level talent in the 1st round, Filip Zadina. But today, I am going to be talking about possibly the best Czech prospect to come out of the Extraliga in over a decade, HC Kometa Brno’s Martin Nečas.
Nečas is one of only a few players who saw their draft stock rise due to the World Junior Championships in December and January, besides maybe only Nico Hischier and Eeli Tolvanen, where he registered a goal and two assists in five games with the Czechs. Further, Nečas was one of only three U18 skaters to play more than 30 games at the highest level in the Czech Extraliga this season. Nečas led the Extraliga in goals, assists, and P/GP for a U18 skater. More interestingly, his regular season production as a U18 forward was the best that the Extraliga has seen since 2003, and his playoff performance was the best since 1995. As you can probably guess, this has garnered quite a bit of attention from scouts, and he may end up being drafted in the top 10 this year as a result.
Name: Martin Nečas
Date of Birth: January 15th, 1999
Birthplace: Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic
Weight: 168 lbs
NHL comparable: Nathan MacKinnon
ISS Hockey: 10
McKeen’s Hockey: 10
Future Considerations: 10
NHL CSS: 5 (European Skaters)
Watching Nečas is a treat to behold. If you were to ask me who the top 5 skaters are in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, I would probably rank Nečas’ skating abilities up there, if not top 3. I might even be inclined to say he might just be the best skater in the draft. One of the first things that catches your eye about him is how incredibly explosive he is, able to reach lighting quick speeds with only a few strides. His first step is a big part of this, which helps him get from 0-60 like he’s Secretariat jumping out of the gate at the Kentucky Derby. His footspeed makes him a force to be reckoned with on the transition, especially on odd-man rushes, where he can overwhelm opponents and overtake them very quickly.
The next thing you’ll notice is how excellent his balance is on the edges of his skates. Nečas has edgework that’s as smooth as freshly cut diamonds, which allows him to explode in all four directions on the ice, giving his game a level of finesse that’s almost unrivaled in this draft class. His lower body strength is very good, which makes him effective in winning puck battles and protecting the puck. What’s more promising, yet, is that I think these abilities will only improve as Nečas gains more strength, and adds more muscle to his frame.
Nečas has the hands to match the speed of his feet, showing the ability to handle the puck effortlessly in full flight, and has impeccable handling of the puck when playing through traffic. His movements are very difficult to predict, and he uses his ability to rapidly change speed and direction to his advantage when cutting through defenders, making him dangerous when driving to the net.
Offensively, Nečas sees the ice extremely well, and thinks the game at a very high level. When combined with his agility, he can open up a lot of ice for himself and his teammates and create very creative passing lanes that a less agile and less skilled player wouldn’t be able to. His shot is also very effective, as he gets a very quick, accurate release on both his wrist and snapshot, with a lot of velocity.
If he has any knocks offensively, it’s that he sometimes plays too much on the perimeter. It’s not that he’s incapable of battling in the corners and in front of the net, but this is something that will probably progressively improve as he adds more strength. His most important area of improvement will definitely be adding more power and strength, but this is a very common knock for a prospect of his age.
On the defensive side of the puck, Nečas has excellent positioning, and plays a responsible, defensively sound game. He is very adept at faceoffs, and shows a great understanding of how to take away passing and shooting lanes from opponents. A highly intelligent player, he makes very smart reads, and has great awareness and anticipation of what is happening on the ice. As he gains more physical strength over the course of his career, Nečas should also progressively be able to physically match up with his competition better. At this point, that is admittedly a work in progress.
Video Credit: Prospect Videos - YouTube
A complete reel of Nečas’ season with HC Kometa Brno, showing all of his regular season and playoff points. I was originally going to use another video, but Kyle hates Meatloaf, and this one features all of the footage in that video, and then some. So this one’s for you Kyle ;). Video Credit: Marty Bellator - YouTube
This is a complete package of highlights from the Czech Republic U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament from last August, where Nečas helped lead them to winning a gold medal. In addition to showing Nečas (#18), this video gives a good look at other up-and-coming Czech prospects, including Filip Chytil (#20), Ostap Safin (#27), Radim Salda (#21), David Kvasnicka (#7), Jakub Galvas (#10), Jan Kern (#12), Jan Hladonik (#13), Ondrej Machala (#17), Filip Zadina (#19), and Jachym Kondelik (eligible next year, #29). Video Credit: Czech Hockey Highlights - YouTube.
From the World Junior Championships back in December-January. Video Credit: bigwhite06 - YouTube
In a year which is often knocked as a weaker year in terms of top-end talent, I personally think Nečas has too much to offer to fall outside of the top 10, especially when there’s such a premium put on highly skilled, highly intelligent two-way centers with offensive instincts that are as good as his. In fact, it was less than 2 months ago that Craig Button ranked him as #3 in his rankings, comparing Nečas’ playing style to Claude Giroux. Now, as a general rule, I take anything he says with a grain of salt, but Nečas is definitely one of the best centers in this draft outside of Patrick and Hischier, irrespective of what you think of Craig. His ceiling is as good as anybody’s, and it’s highly likely that he will fall to the Red Wings at 9th overall. Nečas has top six center written all over him. Regardless of who the Wings decide to take, there are a lot of great options that will fall to them, with players such as Nečas, Elias Pettersson, Nick Suzuki, Klim Kostin, and possibly one of Makar/Liljegren around. So long as the Wings play their cards right, they have the chance to land themselves a real difference-maker in the long haul. I personally would be thrilled if the Wings took Nečas, and I think you should too.
Anyways that’s it for this one. Since I’m wrapping up, I would just like to give a special thanks to Kyle & JJ for inviting me to do this. Scouting is a huge hobby of mine, and I’ve been producing prospect profiles in the Fanpost section of this site for almost a month now, so I’m very happy to have the chance to share what prospect knowledge I have with this great fan community we have here at WIIM. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. When I return, I will be talking about the Finnish marksman playing out of Sioux City, Eeli Tolvanen. In the meantime, happy scouting!