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Taken in the second round of the 2016 CHL Import Draft, there were big expectations for Slovakian centre Adam Ruzicka. When Pavel Zacha and Travis Konecny made their respective NHL clubs, the Sarnia Sting were significantly weakened up front. Ruzicka was put into a bigger role than initially anticipated. He did well for a rookie, but also had some issue adjusting to the North American game. Overall, Ruzicka finished with 25 goals and 46 points in 61 games. He also had two goals in four playoff games.
Ruzicka has been a star for Slovakia at the international level. As an underaged in 2015-16, he had two points in four games at the Ivan Hlinka, as well as four points in five games at the Under 18s. This year he had five points in five games at the Under 18s, and one goal in five games at the World Juniors.
Adam Ruzicka Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #62
Centre — shoots Left
Born May 11th, 1999 — Bratislava, Slovakia
Height 6’4″ — Weight 209 lbs [193 cm / 95 kg]
At 6’4″ Ruzicka has excellent size. His skating is decent, especially given his size. However it also does not stand out. His first step is clunky and his acceleration needs some work. However, once he does get going Ruzicka moves pretty well. He also has power in his lower body, fighting through checks when at his best. He is strong on the puck, and can cycle down low as well as win battles along the boards. Ruzicka isn’t the lightest on his feet though, and could use some work on his agility and edge work.
There is a lot of skill here. Ruzicka can play a power forward style of game. When he is at his best, he works the puck along the boards and out of the corners and drives it to the front of the net. He has the hands necessary to bury pucks in close. Ruzicka also has an excellent wrist shot and snap shot. He can also play the role of play maker. Ruzicka has the ability to make saucer passes, or to get the puck through tight spaces. He has the vision to wait for a teammate to get open. Ruzicka makes tape-to-tape passes in good areas. When Ruzicka is on his game, his size and power can make him very effective protecting the puck, working the cycle game, and waiting for an opportunity.
The issue here is that there are far too many nights when Ruzicka is not on his game. On some nights, he seems content to sit on the perimeter and not get involved in the dirty areas of the ice. There are times when he seems to avoid getting involved in the physical game, or battling along the boards. These are issues that Ruzicka must overcome going forward.
Like his offensive game, Ruzicka’s defensive work is hit-or-miss. There are nights when he is solid on the back check, supporting the defence down low, as well as using his stick to cut down passing and shooting lanes. Ruzicka will need to work on maintaining intensity. He also can get out of position, even when he is playing well. This is another area that is a work in progress.
Projection and Comparison
Adam Ruzicka has all the physical tools to become a very good second line centre in the NHL. Some might even look at the tools and see the possibility of a draft steal and a franchise type player. However, that seems unlikely. It is more likely that he is an anchor to a secondary scoring line. A lot of work needs to be done before this can happen. Ruzicka’s package of size and skill is still extremely intriguing and gives the impression that he could be a steal. This is a boom-or-bust type of pick. In terms of a stylistic comparison, Ruzicka is similar to former NHLer Robert Lang. This is not a talent comparison though.
The following is a compilation of videos, assembled from Youtube.
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