Is it worth taking a shot at Czech late bloomer Adam Najman?

Najman would be a project, but the Canadiens have the time to let him develop at his own pace.

Is it worth taking a shot at Czech late bloomer Adam Najman?
Adam Najman of Bílí Tygři Liberec in game two of the Czech semifinals against Mountfield HK. Credit: Jiří Princ /
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While many eyes have been trained on various drafted prospects in Europe this season, there is an undrafted player who has taken a huge step forward: Bílí Tygři Liberec’s Adam Najman. In previous seasons, the 22-year-old forward had been moved between the U20 team, the Czech second division, and the main team, but this year Najman has stayed with the top club and posted an impressive 38 points in 49 games, 29 of the points being assists.

Something that speaks about Najman’s strengths; he has a lot of hockey sense, which leads to his strong two-way game. The awareness and vision create a strong passing game, something that benefits his teammates.

The Liberec coaching and development team has took the fourth-line centre from the U20s, where his strong two-way play was the foundation of his game, and built up everything to turn him into quality offensive player. With a clear pass-first mentality, the question is: how far can the coaching team take him?

It is clear that playmaking is Najman’s strong point, which leads to some areas for improvement. In order to become a real dual-threat kind of player, he needs to improve his shot, and also using it a lot more. He is an average skater and could use some improvement in that area as well.

Matej Deraj, scout for McKeen's Hockey and a regular guest on our podcast, describes Najman as “a smart player who creates a lot of danger in the offensive zone. A great passer with a strong two-way game.

"However, I wonder if he has a future in the NHL," Deraj says, "since he’s smallish and not overly physical.” Najman is 5’11’’ and currently weighs in at 185 lbs. Adding another couple of pounds should be in his best interest.

When talking about projection, Deraj says that “a couple more years in Europe would be good, but a chance to mature and develop in the AHL could be a good option, too.” With the Laval Rocket being a good development program – just look at the progress by Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Jesse Ylönen, and Justin Barron, to mention a few – it could be a smart move to sign the free agent and be patient with him; let him develop slowly.

You could also sign him and loan him back to Liberec, which has done a great job with Najman so far. With few players for the Canadiens to sign this summer, a contract to Najman could provide a good investment for the future.

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