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Who Is Libor Sulak?

from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,

I have to admit that I don’t follow the progress of non-NHL players the way I did in the past. There was a time when there wasn’t a player who entered the league whose name I didn’t at least hear along the way. But with a 31, soon to be 32-team league, there are a handful of players who come into the league every season that leave me saying, “Who the heck is this guy?” That’s when I go to our prospect guru Ryan Kennedy and resident hockey nerd Matt Larkin. If they’re left scratching their heads, I’m onto something.

And here are a half dozen players who fall into that category this season:

Libor Sulak, Detroit: The Red Wings made it abundantly clear that there were jobs to be taken on their roster and one of them went to the 24-year-old Sulak, who took advantage of a blueline that has been besieged by injuries to regulars Mike Green, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley. Sulak played two games with the Grand Rapids Griffins late last season and impressed with his shot and puck-moving ability. He also had an impressive World Championship for the Czech Republic. He might not be around when the Red Wings get all their regular defensemen back, but one of the pleasant surprises for the Red Wings early is that a good number of their young kids, including Sulak, can play at the NHL level.

Little known fact: Sulak was on loan to the Pelicans of the Finnish League last season and finished second among defensemen in goals with nine.

five more players...

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Down River Dan's avatar

I think Sulak would have made the club regardless of the injuries on the blue line. I remember watching him during the Traverse City tourney. I noticed mostly his physical play. His skating and puck moving ability I didn’t notice, but this kid I think will be around all season…..

Posted by Down River Dan on 10/10/18 at 07:09 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I love Sulak’s speed and poke-checking ability, and he played very well during the Prospects Tournament and in the preseason. But since the start of the regular season, it seems like he hasn’t been as sharp with his stick, he’s getting pushed off of a lot of pucks, and he’s getting caught in the wrong spots on the rush.

Maybe it’s the result of nervousness about playing games “for real” now, but if he keeps that up he’ll head to GR for some “seasoning” when the vets get back. And maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing because I think he’s got a lot of potential to end up a #3-#4 defenseman.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/10/18 at 11:38 PM ET

hockeyfreak13's avatar

I think Sulak would have made the club regardless of the injuries on the blue line

I agree. I thought he might need a little time to adjust to NA hockey, but he was always going to be up with the big club sooner than later. All of his aforementioned attributes are great, but what stands out to me is his ability to get under his opponent’s skin. He was an absolute terror against the U.S. at the Worlds and I think Blash took note. Sulak, Hicketts, and Hronek all play with an edge that this team has been lacking for a while.

Posted by hockeyfreak13 from Grand Rapids on 10/11/18 at 07:16 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

In the limited amount I’ve watched him, Sulak is fairly loose defensively, doesn’t play with a lot of structure, gets caught in bad gaps and the puck ends up on the oppositions stick too often shortly after he touches it, unless he himself is skating it.  Hopefully all that is a matter of coaching, because his skill and play otherwise are compensating for it.  He gets a huge benefit from being on a team that has no real aspirations of wining the cup, where a win early in the season could impact home ice in the playoffs. Otherwise he’d likely be working that stuff out in the AHL, and still might be when/if the regulars return.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 10/11/18 at 07:33 AM ET

Primis's avatar

And maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing because I think he’s got a lot of potential to end up a #3-#4 defenseman.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 10/11/18 at 12:38 AM ET

I hope for his sake he’s got more than that.  Because there seems to be no lack of #3-4 potential guys in DET’s system.  And if DET’s going to be playing #3-4 guys in 5 years at the #1-2 still, nothing will have actually changed.

Posted by Primis on 10/11/18 at 07:53 AM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com