CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 4: Martin Gernat #25 of Team Slovakia grabs onto Radek Faksa #16 of Team Czech Republic during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship Fifth Place game at the Scotiabank Saddledome on January 4, 2012 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Team Czech Republic defeated Team Slovakia 5-2. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
The latest in a series profiling the various prospects the Stars could be choosing from in the NHL Draft.
Radek Faksa is one of those names that Stars fans should keep an eye on in this upcoming draft. The 6'3" 202 lb center has been projected to go somewhere near where the Stars pick at number 13 and he's one of those guys that every team would love to have.
Faksa is a do-it-all center/power forward and one of the best two-way prospects in the draft this year. The 18-year-old has continuously risen up the draft boards throughout the year and is now ranked as the seventh best North American skater by Central Scouting and third best center.
Last season was the first year or North American hockey for the Czech-born Faksa and he made a huge impression in his rookie year. Playing for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (a team with a good eye for foreign talent), Faksa was easily the best rookie in the league. He finished with the most goals (29), assists (37), points (66) in just 62 games (he missed some at the end of the season due to a concussion) and was the only rookie to average at least a point a game. He somehow finished second though in rookie of the year voting to defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who just turned 16-years-old (he must have gotten more votes considering he's the youngest player in the league).
Faksa is a big boy and he really knows how to use his big frame to fight for pucks and pound his way through traffic. It's something that's pretty rare for a first year player, especially one that's played nearly his entire career in Europe. He's got a solid offensive skillset as well. He has a hard, fast shot (though it's relatively weak when compared to other top forward prospects) and is a pretty good playmaker on top of the puck. He's not going to blow you away with any of his offensive talents, but he's solid in all aspects of his game.
The one thing about his game that does stand out is how physical he plays (maybe too physical at times as he gets in penalty trouble). He'll win a majority of his puck battles along the boards, forechecks like a bull and uses his size exceptionally well to get position in front of the net. He'll need to bulk up and get even tougher if he hopes to do that at the NHL level, but it's great that he has a mentality for that type of game at such a young age. It bodes well for him and his future if he keeps playing that type of game.
He plays on both the power play and penalty kill so he's a versatile player. He's especially valuable as a defensive forward as he plays hard on the backcheck to help out his defensemen. He won't be the type to lollygag back and will go all out on every shift.
Faksa has very few clear weaknesses in his game. He won't be one of those guys to skate circles around other players and won't be outracing guys down the ice. He also might have hit a limited offensive ceiling on his game. There's really not too much more for him to learn. He doesn't have the greatest vision and it'll be a rare day when he does something that makes you jump out of your seat and yell in excitement.
Faksa is a clear top-six forward and he has the skills to be one of the best players on any team. He'd be a great addition to the Stars as they've been missing a power forward of his ability for a long time and a two-way center like him would be invaluable to this team. He'd be ready to contribute to the team almost immediately.