Welcome to profile number two of our NHL Draft 2012 class preview. Mr. Jake Goldsbie got the suspense inducing countdown underway with his profile of Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Sissons, and now I’m going to introduce you to a fellow who has some NHL play under his belt already.
Tomas Hyka is an interesting case. He was draft eligible in 2011, but was passed over by every single team and every single pick. The Philadelphia Flyers had him in for a pre-season tryout invite where he turned a lot of heads, but a rule in the CBA dictates that an undrafted European player cannot be signed to an entry-level deal before the age of 22. This was news to the Flyers, as we all learned from Broad Street Hockey. With the NHL experience under his belt, Hyka went to the Quebec League and led the Gatineau Olympiques in scoring with 64 points in 50 games despite an injury shortened season. Between a good showing with the Flyers and a strong campaign with Gatineau, Hyka is sure to get picked this time around.
Position: Right Wing
Born: March 23, 1993
What people in the know know
A skilled speedster who was passed over in last year’s draft, Hyka was likely passed over because of his lack of size and strength. He proved his doubters wrong with an impressive rookie campaign in the QMJHL, even though he spent his fair share of the season sitting out with injury. A dynamic offensive talent, Hyka has great hands to go along with his quick legs. It was only due to some confusion over his eligibility that Hyka was not signed last summer and he won’t be overlooked again this year.
Tomas Hyka is a slick playmaking all-purpose player. He skates well, sees the ice well and shows the ability to make plays.
After going undrafted last June, Hyka impressed as an invitee at the Philadelphia Flyers rookie camp and continued to gain admirers with his play for Gatineau.
What people saw was an immensely talented, but undersized player who is one of the best pure skaters in this year’s draft class.
“He’s a good bet to go in the first round,” said one scout. “There’s too much of a home run there. There are too many other picks who faltered because of injuries or limited upside not to roll the dice on this guy.”
Their knocks against Hyka: He’s not tall and he’s still extremely slight. But that hasn’t prevented him from being strong on the puck or going to the dirty areas to capitalize on chances.
“He’s realy fast and he’s kind of light but he’s not shy,” said another scout. “He’s not a physical guy because he can’t be at that size, but he has excellent speed. That’s his biggest asset.”
From the horse’s mouth
Hyka is a classic risk/reward type of player that we’ve seen enter the forefront of the NHL’s young crop since the rule changes instituted during the lockout. A (very) small player with speed for days and creativity, he will be picked by a team early on with the intention of slotting him in as a high upside depth scorer.
The speedy Czech projects to go high in the second round or late in the first. In terms of first round options for Hyka, if he’s available when Phoenix hits the clock, don’t be shocked to see the Coyotes take him to add some scoring to a defensive heavy system. The Los Angeles Kings would also be a good destination for the winger as they lack any real offensive punch beyond Tyler Toffoli of the Ottawa 67s.