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NHL Draft

Confident Flames Draft Pick Honzek Drops Draisaitl’s Name As Comparison



Not long after being selected by the Calgary Flames at No. 16 in the NHL Draft, Samuel Honzek mentioned the Edmonton Oilers.

No, it wasn’t a Connor McDavid style joke about the Battle of Alberta, poking fun at the fans in the other city. Honzek, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound left-winger from Trencin, Slovakia, compared himself to the ‘other guy’ in Edmonton.

“Maybe it sounds a little bit odd, but Leon Draisaitl, a big guy really good at protecting the puck,” Honzek told reporters in Nashville when asked who he would compare himself to in the NHL.

“He can use his body really well and has really good vision and his hockey IQ is really impressive.”

Confident words from an 18-year-old, but the Calgary Flames gushed about his athleticism and work ethic, suggesting he “checked every box” in their pre-draft considerations.

“Personally, I was hoping he was there, and the scouts felt the same way,” Conroy told reporters amid a busy week so far in Nashville. “He’s kind of that package that we’re looking for.

“The analytics were positive. The eye test was positive. Everything that we go through and test, he kind of checked all the boxes for us. So, it was very exciting for us to get him at 16.”

Honzek was ranked ninth among North American skaters by the league’s Central Scouting Bureau. After making the trip overseas to join the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, the towering import finished third among all rookies with 56 points. And that came in just 43 games with Honzek missing another 25 because of injuries. Most of that was from a skate blade cut suffered early in the world junior tournament.

Adapting to the smaller ice surface and life in North America didn’t faze the young man, who showed he can be dominant with the puck — a guy you’d love to have in a game of keepaway, who uses his size and agility to protect it — and make plays in every area of the ice.

Honzek showed confidence in his shot and his willingness to listen to coaches and take on whatever role is asked of him. He acknowledges room for growth, of course, but will do whatever he can to improve his strength, conditioning and skating to get to the next level. And then the one after that.

If he’s anywhere near as good as that Draisaitl guy … look out.

“I have still a really long journey to be like him,” Honzek said. “But I have size to do it and I just need to be focused and work hard.”

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