Coming off a nice showing at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament last summer, Czech defenseman Vojtech Budik seemed primed for a big year. He had been selected by Prince Albert in the CHL import draft and there were high hopes to see what he could do in North America--I even speculated he could play his way into first round territory, with a good year.
But for whatever reason, that just didn't happen. Budik struggled to just 16 points all season, and saw him draft stock plummet. It could just be a matter of a slow adjustment, but it definitely wasn't the type of season many were hoping he'd have. That lack of success makes him a likely late round pick in the NHL Draft, but that high-end potential is still there.
Player: Vojtech Budik
Team: Prince Albert Raiders(WHL)
Height:6'1" Weight:194 lbs.
Stats: 70 games, 3 goals, 13 assists, 16 points, +/- 0
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 90th among North American skaters
What I Like:
-Blazing straight line speed
Budik is a really quick skater that can get up and down the ice with ease. I like his first step to get moving, and once he's got a head of speed, he's really difficult to stop.
In this example, Budik wins the puck behind the goal line, and then is able to be a one-man breakout as he uses his speed and strength to fight through a couple checks and rush up the ice. It's not the prettiest example, but gives you an idea of what he can do at his best:
This skill is especially valuable on the power play, as you can see in this example where Budik rushes the puck end-to-end and gains a clean zone entry to set up possession in the offensive zone.
What I Don't Like:
-Not as good moving backwards as forward
For as good as Budik is moving forward, he's not as strong when he has to skate backwards and defend. He has trouble maintaining an appropriate gap one-on-one and is frequently forced to turn his feet against other faster forwards, something NHL-caliber forwards will feast on.
-Weak offensive instincts
I mentioned above that Budik's ability to gain zone entry bodes well for working on the power play, but it's hard for him to get power play time when he doesn't produce offensively when given those opportunities. His vision and hockey sense is just average and he doesn't move the puck well enough to generate consistent offense.
The results just weren't there this year for Budik for him to go very high in the Draft. He'll fall to the later rounds where teams are looking for a legit pro attribute that hopefully a player can build a more complete game around with further development. Budik has that with his skating ability, so I could see him being selected in the fourth round, though likely not much higher than that with his disappointing year.
I think his natural athletic abilities give Budik a fairly high ceiling, though the concerns about hockey sense make it rather unlikely he ever reaches that ceiling. He projects as more of an offensive defenseman at the pro level, so he'll have to start producing points more consistently. His strong skating could make him an effective pro for a long time as a second or third pairing defenseman.