In the 4th round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal, the Canadiens swung for the fences with the 109th pick in the draft, taking right winger Alexander Avtsin out of Russia. Extremely talented but raw and unlikely to fill out his potential was the common scouting report. In the 6th round this season the Canadiens took a similar swing for the fences on left winger Daniel Pribyl of the Czech Republic.
Pribyl was a late riser in the draft rankings this year as he dominated the Czech junior league (U20) with 58 points in 41 games. His height and reach gave him a considerable advantage over his peers, and he earned a late season call up to HC Sparta Praha. Held scoreless in three regular season games, Pribyl acquitted himself well in his team's relegation round against men, scoring twice in four games while adding an assist.
Scouting reports on Pribyl reveal that he has soft hands and a deceptive shot, hinting that if all works out he could be an effective scorer in the pros. Pribyl has received similar praise for his vision, hockey IQ, stick-handling and work ethic.
Offensive creativity is also a lauded ability of his among scouts, one comparing him in that regard to former Hab Sergei Kostitsyn. Pribyl himself says he models some parts of his game on Ales Hemsky, and if he were to deliver even half of that level of play in the pros I think we would all agree the Habs found a steal in the 6th round.
Despite his imposing size amongst his peers in the Czech Republic, Pribyl is not a physical player and rarely finishes checks. While he doesn't shy away from puck battles, most scouting reports say he rarely wins them. It's unclear whether he doesn't fight very hard for the puck or if he's just not strong enough as of yet. Undoubtedly Pribyl does need to add muscle to his frame if he expects to make the pro leagues permanently in the Czech Republic, let alone North America.
Skating has also been brought up as a weak area for Pribyl, several reports citing balance and agility needing some work as he fills out. One scouting report also mentioned that he could improve his first push in the foot-speed department as he has the ability to blow by players when they're caught, but he's not quite there yet. His defensive game is also nearly non-existent at this point in time.
While many were hoping that Pribyl would join the CHL this season to get a closer look at him and get him accustomed to the North American game earlier, he's elected to stay with Sparta Praha for at least one more season.
His play in the relegation playoff games for Sparta may have earned him a spot on the men's team for this coming year, but he'll still need to fight for ice time.Pribyl will need to spend the next couple of years filling out his large frame while learning to use his size effectively in all three zones.
It's unlikely a project like Pribyl will ever make the Canadiens unless he vastly improves his defensive game as well. It's clear from the Pouliot situation that a one-dimensional but talented player will not last very long on the type of team the Montreal Canadiens are trying to build.
Pribyl's selection was one that stood out to me, as the Habs depth at LW among their prospects is easily their weakest point (outside of goaltending of course, but Price is still just 24). To be able to find a big, skilled left winger with top 6 potential in the 6th round is yet another feather in the cap of Trevor Timmins, who's drafting has impressed me greatly over the years.
|#25 Morgan Ellis||#24 Daniel Pribyl||#23 Alain Berger|