World Juniors 2024

Meet the Team: Czechia's roster for the 2024 World Juniors

The Czech team that's taken up residence in Gothenburg, Sweden will be a much different one from the group that took Canada to overtime in the gold medal game last year in Halifax, losing 3-2 and capturing silver. The standard remains the same though.

Part of the reason that the Czechs are bringing something of a new-look roster to Sweden is because of the leagues they're drawing from. You've got just about every corner of the hockey world represented in this lineup, from Czechia itself to the CHL to the NCAA and all the way back to Scandinavia.

The temptation is to label this group as a slight downgrade on the one that preceded it, absent four of last year's top-five scorers and their starting goalie, but they've cycled in some high-end talent at every position that should help carry the torch. They are much less experienced, though, with this group clocking in at more than a full year younger than last year's.

Let's take a look at this team and how they'll line up in a little more depth.

The Roster

This is a rough idea of how I expect the Czech will line up at the tournament.

The six returning players from last year's roster are forwards Jiří Kulich, Eduard Šalé, Matyáš Šapovaliv, Robin Sapoušek, and defencemen Tomáš Hamara and Aleš Čech. They're basically starting from scratch in goal.

Kulich will be the team's leader up front, and he'll look to reignite the chemistry with Šalé and Šapovaliv that allowed him to finish second in the tournament with seven goals last year. The trio has played together dating back to the U18s in Landshut, Germany, when Kulich took home Tournament MVP honours. That's a line Czech head coach Patrik Augusta can lean on.

Next up on the forward depth chart is the line of Dominik Rymon, Ondřej Becher, and Sapoušek. Each of them is guaranteed to have some familiarity with one another since they're all playing in the WHL this year, and built-in chemistry is so valuable at this tournament. Rumon and Becher, in particular, will be looked to provide secondary scoring.

The third line, centred by Matyáš Melovský with Jakub Štancl and Simon Slavíček on opposite flanks, should play a north-south style and bring a lot of energy to the table. They're going to be particularly frustrating for opponents on the forecheck. Melovský will be looked at to hit the scoresheet.

It's much the same story on Czechia's fourth line, where intensity is the order of the day. The combination of Adam Židlický, Sebastian Redlich, and Adam Bareš will be combative and aggressive from puck drop to the final horn, but this is also a group of players that can chip in with the odd goal and move up and down the lineup.

The Czech blue line is one of the least experienced among the tournament's heavy hitters, but one thing it's not short on is talent.

It's difficult to predict how exactly the Czech coaching staff will match their blueliners up, but they'll have no shortage of options. My guess is that they try to balance out their pairs with one high-flying youngster and one more experienced player to keep them in check.

They'll likely have Tomas Hamara lead the way on a top pair with Tomáš Cibulka. That'll be the bedrock of the Czech blueline, with Hamara's experience and skill making him the go-to guy for this team. Both players have more of an offensive tilt to their games, but Hamara's held it down on a shutdown role before.

Tomáš Galvas hasn't got most of the press out of Czechia this year as a top defensive prospect for the upcoming draft, but he's been the best first-time draft-eligible blueliner in the country this year for my money. His high-flying game and puck-moving ability should pair nicely with the more rugged, defensively-calibrated Marek Alscher.

The offensively-driven Adam Jiříček and the hard-nosed Aleš Čech make obvious sense at the bottom of the Czech depth chart. They should thrive in soft minutes.

The Czechs have a lot of talent in goal, but this feels like Michael Hrabal's starting job to lose. He's got a lot of international experience with Czechia, having been the starter for their U18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky and U18 World Championships last year, and he has game-stealing potential. Jakub Vondraš is the odds-on favourite to back him up, and Michael Schnattinger will likely be the third goalie.


Adam Bareš, RW/LW, Pelicans (Liiga)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Adam Bareš thrives with the finer points of the game. He's a speedy forward, willing to engage in puck battles, and always plays with a high-end work rate. Don't underestimate his playmaking skills though; he can be a setup man at this tournament. Bareš will do whatever it takes to help his team win hockey games.

Ondřej Becher, C/W, Prince George Cougars (WHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

This team is going to need Ondřej Becher to be a top performer for them to do damage at this tournament. Based on the early returns from his WHL season, should be doable. He's already surpassed last year's high of 38 points in 33 fewer games this campaign. He's got a diverse skill set, combining strong offensive instincts with the ability to keep things honest defensively. He should be a part of this team's penalty kill.

Jakub Hujer, LW/C, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Not many frills here: Jakub Hujer is a big checking forward who's always in the thick of the action, never shy of throwing a hit or blocking a shot. That's going to make him a valuable asset on the penalty kill and at the bottom of the Czech lineup. His hands aren't that bad either, so he might do some damage offensively, too.

Jiří Kulich, W, Rochester Americans (AHL)

Buffalo Sabres, 2022 NHL Draft, first round, 28th overall

Jiří Kulich is the team's leader and for them to be successful, the offence has to flow through his stick. His main asset is his shot, every bit as accurate as it is powerful. He's especially effective using it on the power play. He's more than just a shot though. Kulich's motor never stops and he's really developed his two-way game over the years. He'll play massive minutes.

Matyáš Melovský, C, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Matyáš Melovský continues to light up the scoresheet in the QMJHL, building on last year's point-per-game season by getting to 1.26 this season. His versatility is what really stands out. He's a highly intelligent forward with a good shot and that makes him a threat to score every time he steps onto the ice. When the puck's not going in for him, Melovský can just as easily chip in as a playmaker.

Sebastian Redlich, C/W, Södertalje SK J20 (J20 Nationell)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Sebastián Redlich is a relentless forward known for his hard work and his knack for driving goalies up the wall with his presence at the net front. He's got a decent enough shot to do some damage when he pops out from the net-front and into the slot or when he's first on a rebound. He's got scoring touch that should have goalies on high alert.

Dominik Rymon, LW/C, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Dominik Rymon is a dynamic offensive force and scoring forward, consistently leaving a mark on the score sheet. His innate ability to find scoring opportunities and capitalize on them sets him apart. The Czechs will lean on him to create secondary scoring for them.

Eduard Šalé, RW, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Seattle Kraken, 2023 NHL Draft, first round, 20th overall

Eduard Šalé is having a bit of a tough time with the transition to overseas hockey in the OHL with the Colts. The points are there, but our scouting reports haven't been as flattering. Still, this Czech forward brings soft hands and high-end skill as a distributor to the table on a team that's going to need him to produce. He should be very effective on the power play.

Matyáš Šapovaliv, C, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

Vegas Golden Knights, 2022 NHL Draft, second round, 48th overall

This is now Matyáš Šapovaliv's third season with the OHL's Saginaw Spirit, and it shows. He's scoring at better than a point a game, and the expectation is that he'll carry that strong play into the tournament. Šapovaliv's size, range, puck protection ability, two-way smarts, and deceptive playmaking should make him a do-everything forward for the Czechs. He's an ace in the face-off circle.

Šimon Slavíček, RW/LW, Flint Firebirds (OHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Simon Slavíček has been overseas for three years and things are finally starting to click. He's a versatile player, most comfortable forechecking and leveraging physicality to make an impact at every corner of the ice. He brings energy every shift. Slavíček also has a quick release, and his scoring instinct makes him a dangerous forward.

Jakub Štancl, LW, Växjö Lakers HC (SHL)

St. Louis Blues, 2023 NHL Draft, fourth round, 106th overall

You want a power forward? Jakub Štancl is your guy. He's a big, fast skater, and when he's at full speed, it's like a train is bearing down on you. He's a real north-south player, most effective as a forechecker. Štancl has solid vision and can also help the team score goals with his release. His physical tools will be good on the PK.

Adam Židlický, RW/LW, Missisauga Steelheads (OHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Adam Židlický always brings it, with his unique blend of defensive instincts, physicality, and speed making him an effective three-zone player. That physicality really shows up often. Židlický stands out as a player who's always willing to take that extra stride to play the body. With the puck, this is someone to watch out for on the rush.


Marek Alscher, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Florida Panthers, 2022 NHL Draft, third round, 93rd overall

Winterhawks defenceman Marek Alscher is on pace to match last season's point totals, but that's not the calling card to his game anyway. He's a robust defensive defenceman, equal parts intelligent and aggressive, known for shutting down opponents on a shift-to-shift basis. He may well be the go-to option for the Czechs when they're defending leads or setting up for defensive zone draws. This 6-foot-3 defenceman is something of a throwback, but he's good at what he does.

Aleš Čech, D, BK Mladá Boleslav (Czech Extraliga)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

It's fair to wonder how Aleš Čech will perform at this tournament and in what role. He's been with Czechia's national team for some time now, but never really as an impact player. The sole dimension of his game is defence. His ability to read the game and anticipate opponents' moves positions him as a key player in neutralizing scoring threats. Čech has demonstrated a knack for performing under pressure. Whether protecting a narrow lead or preserving a tie game, his composed demeanour and reliable decision-making make him an asset in critical moments.

Tomáš Cibulka, D, Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

You can't leave the QMJHL's most productive defenseman at home, right? Tomáš Cibulka is an exceptionally mobile offensive defenceman, able to beat forecheckers in space, explode up ice, and join the attack. His breakout performances resembled a skating clinic, showcasing the ability to halt abruptly, execute seamless turns, and rapidly accelerate. This player may surprise many people.

Tomáš Galvas, D, Bílí Tygři Liberec (Czech Extraliga)

2024 NHL Draft

Tomáš Galvas has flown under the radar a bit this year, but that could all change after a strong tournament. His speed and comfort on his edges coupled with excellent handling skill make him a slippery player with the puck on his stick. His ability to navigate the blue line and chip in to the offence with well-timed activations.

Tomas Hamara, D, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Ottawa Senators, 2022 NHL Draft, third round, 87th overall

Tomas Hamara was moved from the Kitchener Rangers to the Brantford Bulldogs during the season, and he is doing quite well with his new team. He is a poised and fluid skater who is very strong in the quarterback role on the power play. The Czech defender is strong in 1-on-1 battles with solid gap control, can escape pressure from the defensive zone with ease and generally plays with a good understanding of the game. He can also pass the puck well as he is creative with the puck and can send a nice feed to the slots. Hamara is an offensive-minded player, which is why he is often deep in the offensive zone and likes to join the rush.

Adam Jiříček, D, HC Škoda Plzeň (Czech Extraliga)

2024 NHL Draft

The 10th-ranked prospect in our debut ranking for the 2024 NHL Draft, Adam Jiříček has had quite the up-and-down season. There was some concern as to whether he'd even be an option for this tournament after suffering a concussion in November. He's healthy, ready to play, and this tournament is a huge opportunity for him. Jiříček is a two-way defenceman who contributes in all three zones. He plays the game with an aggressive approach, never shy of making a mistake. He's a good skater, able to escape pressure on his edges. He's a real dual-threat scorer from the blue line, too.


Michael Hrabal, G, UMass (NCAA)

Arizona Coyotes, 2023 NHL Draft, second round, 38th overall

Michael Hrabal is the clearcut start for Czechia at this tournament. He's been solid as a rookie in college hockey, with seven wins through 12 contests with UMass on the strength of a .905 save percentage. Hrabal is a dominant force in the net, combining imposing size with exceptional mobility and agility. He tracks well, too. He's a dark horse for Best Goalie of the tournament.

Jakub Vondraš, G, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

Carolina Hurricanes, 2022 NHL Draft, sixth round, 171st overall

Jakub Vondraš has played with the OHL's Sudbury Wolves this year, but his numbers haven't been anything to write home about. When he's at his best, his puck-tracking really stands out, allowing him to anticipate plays with ease. He's not the most explosive goalie, but he's agile and manoeuvres the crease pretty smoothly. He should be the backup.

Michael Schnattinger, G, Bílí Tygři Liberec U20 (U20 Extraliga)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

This season, Michael Schnattinger has been nothing short of stellar, boasting a solid 2.36 goals-against average (GAA) and an outstanding .926 save percentage. Schnattinger showcases impressive speed and precision on the ice. His glove work is reliable, seldom allowing pucks to slip through as he maintains a solid and secure grip.

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This article is about:
World Juniors 2024 Czechia U20 WJC-20 Marek Alscher Adam Bares Ondrej Becher Ales Cech Tomas Cibulka Tomas Galvas Tomas Hamara Michael Hrabal Jakub Hujer Adam Jiricek Matteo Koci Jiri Kulich Matej Mastalirsky Matyas Melovsky Matej Prcik Matej Pribyl Sebastián Redlich Dominik Rymon Eduard Sale Robin Sapousek Matyas Sapovaliv Michael Schnattinger Simon Slavicek Jakub Stancl Jakub Vondras Adam Zidlicky Patrik Augusta
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