Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2022 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Adam Sykora Scouting Report.
This year’s NHL Draft features what is probably the strongest group of draft prospects ever produced by Slovakia. The Slovakian team had an excellent performance at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, winning a silver medal. Winger Adam Sykora played a big role in the performance, scoring two goals in the five-game tournament. He also made the Slovakian side for the World Junior Championships, but the tournament was cut short due to a Covid outbreak. Sykora also played with the Slovakian Team at the D1A Under-18 World Championships, helping the team win the tournament and advance to the top group next year. Sykora finished his national team commitments by playing for the Slovakian Men’s Team at the World Championships. He scored two goals and three points in six games.
Sykora plays his club hockey in the HK Nitra system. In 46 games in the Slovakian Elite League, he put up 10 goals and seven assists for 17 points. He also added two goals and five points in 19 playoff games. Sykora also played three games in the Slovakian Under-18 league, and one game in the Under-20 league. His father was a pro player in Slovakia.
Adam Sykora Scouting Report
Left Wing/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born September 7th, 2004 — Piestany, Slovakia
Height 5’10” — Weight 172 lbs [178 cm/78 kg]
Sykora is a very good skater. He is a very hard worker, who always keeps his feet moving, and this enhances his mobility. His first step and acceleration are above average. He also has well-above-average top-end speed. This allows Sykora to play an excellent two-hundred-foot game. Sykora’s best assets are his agility and edgework. His lateral mobility is an asset in creating space in the offensive zone as well as marking his man defensively. He gains power and speed through his turns with excellent crossovers. Sykora is also strong on the puck. Despite his lack of size, he has a low centre of balance and is able to win battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Sykora marries his strong skating with good puck handling ability. He is excellent in transition, finding the open spaces and lanes and effectively gaining the offensive zone. He is also very good at controlling the puck in the offensive zone. Sykora protects the puck well in the cycle game. He makes short, quick passes to open teammates and then looks for open space on a give-and-go. Sykora is quick to get in on the forecheck and pressures opposing defenders into moving the puck more quickly than they want to, leading to turnovers. He is also excellent at getting low and winning battles for loose pucks along the boards. He gets to the front of the net and establishes his position to create screens and get after rebounds.
However, Sykora lacks high-end offensive skills and instincts. He isn’t the most creative player out there, instead playing a simple north-south game. He is not a creative playmaker, preferring to just keep the puck alive in the cycle. His shot has decent power but is nothing to write home about. He also could work on his release. It takes him some time to load up his wrist shot, allowing goalies to prepare for it. As a result, the majority of his goals come in tight to the net. He does have the hand-eye coordination to get deflections and quickly pounce on rebounds.
Sykora is an outstanding defensive player for his age. He is almost always the third man high in the offensive zone and doesn’t get caught deep. Sykora is very effective at cutting off lanes and in applying effective back pressure and support against the rush. He also does a very good job of supporting the defence down low against the cycle game. He reads the game very well, using his stick to cut off passing lanes and create turnovers. Sykora is not afraid to get involved physically, winning battles against much larger opponents. He also is willing to put his body on the line to block shots. When a turnover is created, Sykora clears the zone with a good first pass and starts the transition game. Sykora is relentless on his man, applying constant pressure on the puck. His quick stick also creates turnovers with a poke check.
Projection and Comparison
Sykora’s work ethic and defensive skills make him a very projectable prospect. He is a relatively safe pick and there is a very good chance he will make the NHL. The question is if he can improve his offensive game. Sykora’s dogged forechecking and good positioning will be useful attributes as a complementary player. However, his overall skill level is a bit limited. He will need to either improve his goal-scoring or his playmaking instincts to become a top-six forward at the next level. He should continue to play in Europe, working on improving those instincts for the next couple of years. One of the younger players in this draft class, there is hope that he could be a late bloomer. Sykora’s style is comparable to Artturi Lehkonen. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Adam Sykora that are available on youtube and Twitter.
Adam Sykora isn't just the youngest player at the Worlds this year, he's also the most enthusiastic.
A terrific mid-air deflection for his second of the event pic.twitter.com/vN5guJZJjS
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) May 26, 2022
And it's 3-0 Slovakia. Wow.
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) August 6, 2021
Adam Sýkora 🇸🇰 doesn't need a lot of open ice in front of him. He constantly delivers passes over the attacker's stick or underneath the attacker's stick when he has no options.
— Josh Tessler 🇺🇦 (@JoshTessler_) March 1, 2022
Another fun Adam Sýkora clip. Watch him cradle the puck through the attacker's legs when the attacker extends his stick blade out towards the puck. Great way to open up space for himself. #2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/s7BFqUOM9e
— Josh Tessler 🇺🇦 (@JoshTessler_) February 28, 2022
Nice shift by Adam Sýkora #10. He's a very aggressive forechecker with an active stick and is pretty successful at that. Sýkora is a warrior and his style of play is all about the little details, like this shove of a teammate when he's trying to prevent his opponent from scoring. pic.twitter.com/Y8juXmLBdf
— Marek Novotny (@MarekNovotny96) April 5, 2022
This is how it feels to score your first #IIHFWorlds goal ever. 🚨
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 21, 2022
Once again in the better quality: The 9th this season's goal for a #2022NHLDraft eligible Adam Sýkora.
The Slovak forward recorded a goal in the 3rd game in a row.
— Robert Ďurkáč (@RDurkac) February 7, 2022
Check back later for our next NHL Draft article.
Adam Sykora Scouting Report Main Photo:
Adam Sýkora may not show you high end offensive skill right now, but he is one of the youngest players in the draft playing against pros as a 16/17 year old. As a potential third round pick, with his two-way potential, he’s a swing I want to take. https://t.co/AS4CiwaFll
— Ale-STAN-dro Kirk (@brigstew86) June 27, 2022