Although Dmitri Jaskin was hurt an unable to attend the World Jr. Championships in Buffalo, Team Czech Republic did give a nice glimpse into the future of the next draft with 17-year-old Martin Frk, ( pronounced Firk), an October '93 BD who has been making a case as a top 2012 NHL draft candidate since last season and in particular, the 4 Nations Cup in Belarus.
Frk's height is pretty average (listed at 6-feet), but he has a thick body with a lot of natural strength. He's got powerful legs and enough upper body oomph to handle himself in the physical aspects of play along the walls. Playing for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL this season, he's done nothing to dissuade anyone of the notion that he's one of the top 2012-eligibles out there.
As the youngest of any of the players in the 2011 WJC, Frk wasn't able to dominate, but his time will certainly come. He was playing on the lower lines of the Czech team, but managed to stand out in several games. He tallied two memorable goals in the preliminary round loss to Sweden, one of which was a one-timer in which he absolutely crushed the puck to the back of the net. His hand-eye coordination and the power he generates on his shot are a sight to behold.
He's got terrific offensive hockey instincts and sees the ice very well. He also seems to have that natural killer instinct that NHL teams covet; he protects the puck well in the offensive zone and drives hard to the net or can make some quick moves to shake defenders and create a little space for himself. Frk also has excellent hands and quickness with the stick-- he's able to handle it in tight and get excellent shots off
His skating isn't first-rate, but according to scouts, has improved since last season. He's not a bad skater, but could stand to pick up an extra step, but to be frank-- after watching him in Buffalo, didn't see any reason that the mobility will be a hindrance at the next level. He's got just minor improvements to make and if he continues on his development curve, will be fine in this regard.
He's also a chippy guy with some nastiness to his game. He'll need to pick his spots a little better, but he earned the ire of Canada fans when he speared Erik Gudbranson during the preliminary round.
This guy appears to have it all going for him. Unfortunately for NHL fans, the wait will be a little longer and a lot can happen between now and June, 2012. But, like Adam Larsson, he's made a big enough impression a 1.5 years out from his draft season that he'll be a hot topic of conversation a year from now.
John Moore @sportsandmoore.com has a very informative video on Frk over at YouTube. You gotta go there to see it, as it is proprietary and I don't want to post it here without permission.
Here's another John Moore interview with Frk, who doesn't speak English well enough yet to do these on his own, but expect him to have it down by the time the 2012 draft rolls around.
Frk shows off his deadly release on this one, from our friend Jerome at NHLDraftVideo