One of the best prospects to come out of the Czech Extraliga in the last decade or so, Martin Necas has few (if any) weaknesses in his game. Necas is a future top six centre who excels at both goal scoring and playmaking, and is a particularly potent weapon on the power play. He has speed and smarts in his bag of tricks as well, and the only thing that he’s really lacking at this point in time is body size and strength – that will come in time.
A diligent 200-foot player with elite-level hockey IQ and excellent positioning, Necas projects to be an important contributor at both ends of the ice. He’s not likely to last past the halfway point in the first round. We’ve got him at number 11 on our list.
- Age: 18 – January 15th, 1999
- Birthplace: Nove Mesto na Morave, CZE
- Frame: 6’1″ / 178 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Right
- Draft Year Team: HC Kometa Brno
- Accomplishments/Awards: Czech Extraliga Champion (16/17); Czech U18 Champion (15/16)
There has been plenty of speculation about the pronunciation of Necas’ last name. Watch the video below to see Necas attempt to pronounce it himself:
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
Necas gets a big league adjustment boost from playing in a men’s league all season long. There’s not much of an age-related production boost to be had either, so his early-ish birthday doesn’t hurt him. His situational adjustments are huge, since his assist rates weren’t overwhelming at either 5-on-5 or the power play. All in all, he ends up well past the 90th percentile for draft eligible forwards this season, which is quite commendable.
Cohort Based (pGPS)
A bit less than a third of Necas’ statistical cohort stuck around in the NHL. Adjusted for similarity, he has an expected likelihood of success of 31%, couple with expected second line production (59 points per 82 games). Miroslav Satan is his closest successful match, while Milan Hejduk, Pavol Demitra, and Michael Frolik also make appearances.
A strong offensive minded centre…has explosive, darting speed and can duck and dodge with impressive lateral agility…wins races to loose pucks regularly…dangerous when in possession of the puck and screaming down the wing with speed…can both make a play to an open teammate or just drive the puck towards the net himself…is creative seeing the ice well and displaying good timing on his passes…has good strength on the puck although he could improve his body strength overall…is creative possessing smooth hands and ability to pull off some dekes at high speed…his shot jumps off his stick quickly and can surprise with its velocity…has a strong work ethic and does many little things right to contribute…shows good smarts as he leads the rush up ice and dissects the defense before making his play…has some room to grow physically.
From the Hockey Prospect Black Book (Excerpt from publication):
Martin is a smart, skilled forward. He accelerates well and has a fluid stride. He is capable of getting up to top speed in a hurry. He has great puck skills and isn’t afraid to take the puck into traffic to make the play. His hockey sense is excellent and helps him create offence for himself and his team. He has a great shot and proved he can beat goaltenders at every level he’s played at. He anticipates the play well and adjusts accordingly, but if he has a choice he prefers to shoot. Despite his underdeveloped frame, he is willing to play aggressive and battle for pucks.
From Corey Pronman of ESPN (Excerpt only – full article behind pay wall):
Necas was an effective player this season for a team in the top Czech league at age 17, though he played on a team that was deep in scoring talent. He’s a dynamic talent, and his skating ability is very good, as he is one of the quicker skaters available this year. Although he excels when playing a fast-paced game, Necas is also a very good playmaker who can slow the game down and make plays from the boards. He controls the puck well and can make above-average plays with his hands. His off-the-puck will need work going forward. You see the odd good defensive play that exemplifies his IQ, but he’s clearly more polished with the puck than without and has a lot to learn to get bigger minutes as a pro. As a smaller player, winning more battles will go a long way.
From Dennis Schellenberg of McKeen’s Hockey (Excerpt only – full article behind pay wall):
Martin Necas is without any doubt the most promising Czech prospect at this year’s draft and definitely possesses the smarts, skill and skating to crack the top 15. He has had a good season with Brno and played against men the entire season. Necas is an offensively gifted forward who can both finish off plays as well as set up scoring chances for others. He has above-average puck skills as well as skating skills. The only present issue is his lack of physical presence, as he needs to add strength and is a bit undersized. However, I see the willingness to go into traffic and battle it out which does not worry me about his drafting stock.
Dynamic offensive threat with an exceptional understanding of nearly every facet of the game. Though only a teenager, Necas played a critical role in Kometa Brno’s lengthy drive deep into the Czech Extraliga postseason. He’s an excellent skater with a smooth, graceful stride, using quick bursts and lateral movements to not only breach an opposing zone, but hang onto the puck long to enough for support to arrive. Necas is a two-way player who can be used on the top unit of either the power play or penalty kill, and all plays generally run through him. He is an accurate passer and can create or finish plays with a high degree of difficulty. Slight of frame, Necas has very good balance and is difficult to knock off the puck. He is a fierce competitor who plays with emotion and enthusiasm. A star in the making.
An excellent all around player with little to no weaknesses in his game, Martin Necas has been demanding the attention of draft prognosticators all season with his performances both in the Czech Extraliga and on the international stage. Back in the Czech Republic, he potted 15 points in 41 games. It’s the first time that a first time draft eligible player has hit the 15-point mark in the Extraliga since Tomas Hertl notched 25 points in 2011-12.
“What I like about him is his style reminds me of Claude Giroux,” prospect guru Shane Malloy told Ryan Biech on this week’s Game Time Decision podcast. “He’s so crafty in the middle of the ice, moving the puck, and when players go to check him, he slides and slips and they miss him, and he moves the puck quickly into a give-and-go and back into the hole again, and he’s just so dynamic with the puck. His ability to create time and space with speed with the puck is elite-level. He’s a guy that I think his entire game translates to the NHL.”
Necas earned nearly a point and half per hour at 5-on-5, which among U20-aged players in the top Czech league trailed only 20-year old Dominik Lakatos (who, by the way, is a very intriguing overage option).
Necas continued to improve over the course of the season, and in the playoffs with Brno, he potted four goals in 10 games, with all four coming at even strength while averaging just 11:41 per game. During the season, he maintained a 50% ratio of goals-for and -against while on the ice – that improved to 67% in the playoffs. His 51 shots were second among junior aged players in the Extraliga during the regular season.
Beyond his professional play, Necas has represented his country on five separate occasions this season, with varying results. For instance, he burst on the scene at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka tournament last September, and was the Czech’s best player at the World Junior Championship (U20). His performances at the U20 4-Nations tournament in November and the U18 5-Nations tournament in February were okay, while his results at the World Under-18’s in April were a bit lackluster, having been outplayed by fellow 2017 prospect Filip Chytil and top 2018 prospect Filip Zadina.
Still, there’s no question that Necas is one of the top talents available in this month’s draft. A couple of spotty tournaments against teenagers certainly isn’t going to disrupt a very solid season playing against men, and one that saw him demonstrate improvement along the way. One thing that Necas needs to do is pack some more muscle on his frame. He’ll likely have a couple more years in the Czech Extraliga to continue bulking up and developing before making the jump to North America. Much like I said with Lias Andersson, though we have him ranked outside the top ten, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him go between 5th and 9th. We’ll have to wait another week and a half to know for sure.
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