Central Europe Stock Watch: Petr Sikora taking on a big role with Oceláři Třinec's main squad
Most leagues in Central Europe are slowly approaching the halfway point in the season, and we're starting to see certain teams pull away and others fall to the wayside on each league's table.
It's also a critical time for drafted and draft-eligible prospects, many of whom are eyeing a chance to represent their countries at the 2024 World Juniors in Gothenburg, Sweden. We're just as excited about that too, let's be real.
Before that, though, there's another Stock Watch.
Stock Rising 📈
Petr Sikora, F, HC Oceláři Třinec (2024 NHL Draft)
One of the players I've really enjoyed watching this year is Petr Sikora. His performance in the Czech junior circuit was good enough to earn him a call-up to Oceláři Třinec's main squad, where he's already played five games to this point in the season – always a good indicator of NHL success.
What's remarkable is that Sikora isn't playing a bit role with Oceláři Třinec but rather lining up as their second-line centre the last three games – a feat that's even more impressive when you consider how many former NHLers are in their lineup, like Andrej Nestrašil, Richard Pánik, and Marko Daňo.
Sikora is a dynamic two-way centre with a unique combination of skill, intelligence, and tenacity. His deft puckhandling and exceptional hands make him a threat in the offensive zone, while his keen hockey sense and aggressive forechecking set him apart as a valuable asset in all areas of the game. He is a valuable passer with solid patience. I am expecting his stock to rise with every game he plays.
Ondřej and David Kaše, HC Litvínov
Both Ondřej and David Kaše are playing in the Czech Extraliga these days. The younger brother, David, is a veteran of 110 AHL games and seven NHL contests in the Philadelphia Flyers organization; Ondřej had a more storied career, putting up 124 points in 258 contests in parts of seven seasons before injuries eventually helped show him the door from the NHL.
Now, the two are reunited with HC Litvínov, and their synergy is evident every time they take the ice. Ondřej stands out as a skillful and determined winger with impressive speed and a keen awareness of the game. A natural playmaker, he excels in navigating tight spaces with adept puckhandling. David, on the other hand, is a highly versatile player who showcases exceptional patience while in possession of the puck. He's also a good two-way player. A consistent face-off winner as well.
This duo thrives in Extraliga and it is nice to see, especially with Ondřej refinding his game and staying healthy, too.
Samuel Buček, LW, HK Nitra (NHL Free Agent)
Samuel Buček has charted an interesting career path, at one point eschewing a chance to play in an NHL organization for a contract in the KHL with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk back in 2022. He had an offer on the table to play with head coach Dan Bylsma on the newly formed Coachella Valley Firebirds, but apparently, that wasn't enticing enough.
All it took was six games without a point in the KHL and he was back in Czechia, where he suited up for 36 regular season and eight postseason contests. He's now playing for HK Nitra in the Tipos Extraliga, the highest level of professional men's hockey in Slovakia, and is leading the league in points and is in a tie with Hunter Fejes from HC Košice for the goalscoring lead too.
Buček possesses a knack for scoring. He plays with a north-south skating style and consistently positions himself in the thick of the action. This Slovak forward is a skilled enough handler to convert in tight and a shot that can threaten from range.
Stock Steady ↔️
Miroslav Holinka, F, HC Oceláři Třinec (2024 NHL Draft)
Miroslav Holinka's play in junior hockey has drawn the attention of Třinec's main team and the 18-year-old forward has already played two games in the Extraliga. His recent play has made him a candidate for the later rounds of the draft, too
He's an aggressive forward, especially effective in board battles. Holinka's an active, engaged player who can cause chaos in all three zones. He's got a good slapshot and isn't afraid to get into the blue paint and bang home rebounds, a nice set of skills to go along with his offensive instincts. You pair that with his skating stride, and you're looking at someone who has the skills to be a bottom-six player one day, if he works on his patience and possession game.
Stock Falling 📉
Vojtěch Hradec, F, BK Mladá Boleslav (2024 NHL Draft)
Vojtěch Hradec finds himself in the Stock Falling part of this article, and that's almost entirely because of an injury that's not allowed him to get the ice time necessary to prove himself in a crucial draft year.
Don't quite take Hradec for granted, though. When he's healthy, he's been a player to watch for all of the right reasons.
This 6-foot-4 forward plays with a ton of energy and moves pretty well for someone his size, which makes him a valuable player at both ends of the ice. His relentless work rate sets the tone for his teammates, and he's equally effective in chasing down loose pucks, engaging in board battles, and creating scoring chances. He's someone to watch for this year's draft.
Martin Haronik, G, Team Slovakia U18 (2024 NHL Draft)
Martin Haronik became a goalkeeper for the Slovak U18 team after his return from Sweden and his numbers have been truly awful this season. In 12 games, he has a 5.55 GAA and an .866 save percentage. These struggles have really taken a bite out of his confidence and his decision-making and positioning have been a little all over the place as a result. Still, the track record suggests that there's a chance Haronik can get back on track.