Height/Weight: 5'10"/165 lbs.
Youth Team: BK Mlada Boleslav
Current Team: Gatineau (QMJHL)
Gatineau forward Tomas Hyka is certainly one of the more interesting cases of the 2012 NHL Draft. He was eligible to be selected last season, but he went undrafted.
This prompted the Philadelphia Flyers to invite him to training camp, where the Czech winger impressed. Just as the Flyers were about to sign him to a contract, it was determined that they could not based on the CBA rule that states a player who is under 22 years of age and had played in Europe the year prior cannot be a free agent.
After all that, Hyka went on to play for the Gatineau Olympiques this past season and he had a terrific year. Hyka had 20 goals and 44 assists in just 50 regular-season games and constantly displayed the offensive flair that had interested the Flyers.
Hyka is on the small side, but he is one of the speediest skaters in the draft and he uses that to his advantage. He always keeps defenders on their heels and is a constant threat in the attacking zone.
Hyka does have a decent shot and scoring touch, but he is one of those rare wingers who is more adept at setting up teammates rather than actually putting the puck in the back of the net. That type of creativity isn't often found on the wing, so that explains why he was drafted this year after every single NHL team overlooked him in 2011. He proved that he could contribute offensively at a high level, and he should continue to develop in that regard.
With that said, there are some concerns surrounding Hyka that prevented him from being taken as early as he could have been.
His size is obviously the biggest question mark, but along with that, his overall strength could be an issue against big NHL defensemen. Also, Hyka does put time and effort into his defensive game, but he shows little to no physicality and isn't a guy who is going to block shots.
Hyka is going to have a chance at the NHL level thanks to his superior playmaking abilities, but if he doesn't become a complete player, then I question whether he can make it over the long-term.
Hyka is going to put the work in, though, so taking him (sixth round, 171st overall) was certainly a good gamble.
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