I think it’s safe to say at this point, if you weren’t already aware, that the Kitchener Rangers are an NHL factory. They now lay claim to the reigning Calder Trophy winner, Gabriel Landeskog, and will likely have another high draft pick to their credit by the conclusion of the 2012 draft in Radek Faksa.
Faksa is a big bodied center from the Czech Republic who possesses loads of offensive upside. As a rookie with the Rangers in the Ontario League, Faksa earned himself 67 points in 62 contests, a very respectable total for someone new to the CHL style of play.
Born: January 9, 1994
What people in the know know
We know he’s a world-class offensive player, but I think what makes him attractive to NHL scouts is the fact he might play earlier than expected because he’s able to defend at what I consider an elite level right now.
Faksa is an above-average puck-handler and passer. While he still needs to develop his body a lot, he shows effort in the physical game and will attack the high percentage areas.
Rangers coach Steve Spott thinks he has another Gabriel Landeskog on his hands and though he has an obvious Kitchener bias, it’s worth noting Faksa was an OHL rookie.
In that time, the Czech import has already leveraged his physical gifts to make an impact. “One of the better forwards available in the draft,” said one scout. “Has size, skill and he’s a great skater. He has adjusted well over here and uses his size and reach very well.”
The youngest player taken to Alberta for the Czech world junior squad, Faksa acquitted himself well, but he will be even more integral next season when the tourney shifts to Russia. A concussion during the playoffs hindered Faksa’s post-season run with the Rangers, but the bird-dogs love the frame he is building his game around. “Big, strong and he’s going to fill out,” said another scout. “He’ll get some of that man strength. Real good poise with the puck.”
There are many things working in Faksa’s favor heading into the draft this year. He is coming from a dominant junior program that consistently churns out NHL talent, he is a big kid at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and he produced at a high rate in his first year in North American play. He is a lock to go early on in the draft, it’s just a matter of where.
I have him slotted in at 12 to the Buffalo Sabres, though there will be plenty of teams taking a long look at him.