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Do the Canucks like centre Samuel Honzek’s size enough to draft him at 11th?

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Photo credit:Rob Wilton via vancouvergiants.com
Isabella Urbani
11 months ago
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Welcome back to our series here at CanucksArmy where we examine players who could be available for the Vancouver Canucks to select with the 11th pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. 
We’ve previously broken down Swedish right-shot defenceman Axel Sandin Pellikka; last season’s youngest NCAA player, BC’s own, Matthew Wood; Bo Horvat comparable, Slovakian centre Dalibor Dvorský; draft long shot Matvei Michkov; OHLer Calum Ritchie; the fastest skater of the draft, USNTDP centre Oliver Moore; Russian LD Dmitri Simashev; Canuck favourite David Reinbacher; number one OHL pick Quentin Musty; Brandon Wheat King captain Nate Danielson; rising draft pick Tom Willander; sniper Colby Barlow, and playmaker Zach Benson. A week away from the draft, we’ll examine Slovakian centre and Vancouver Giant Samuel Honzek.  
Who 
Another 04’ pushed into the 05’ draft class, Honzek played for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL last season after being selected 10th overall in the league’s import draft. Playing as a left winger for the team, Honzek put up 56 points (23 G, 33 A) in 43 games. Prior to the Giants, Honzek only played in Slovakia. There, he last played 49 games for HK Dukla Trencin, a professional Slovakian team, and put up 14 points (10 G, 4 A). He’s played for Slovakia on the international stage six times including at the U16, U18 and U20 level. Honzek won silver at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and gold at the WJC-18 D1A two years ago. He only played two games at the last world juniors after a skate blade cut his leg during a game. In total, Honzek has 11 points (9 G, 2 A) in 24 IIHF games. 
What the scouts are saying 
Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “There is a lot to dream on in Honzek’s game and “upside” is often the word used among scouts when discussing Honzek. A true believer can look at him and wonder if he can turn into Roope Hintz one day, with his near 6-4 frame, powerful skating, and skill. That level of offense hasn’t been there in his game consistently, but it’s still been good, and there is a realistic path for him to become a very good NHL player.” 
Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects: “Offensively gifted forward with great vision and a projectable frame. Needs to solidify his play away from the puck but has potential as a middle-six winger at the NHL level.”
Chris Peters, Flo Hockey: “[Honek] drives to the net and makes plays in the hard areas of the ice. He doesn’t necessarily have any one stand out trait, but he does everything pretty well. You don’t have to worry about his work ethic on the ice and he absolutely battles against opposing defenders, giving them all they can handle. I had wondered coming into the season if he’d be able to produce, but his skill shined through as he has a very good shot and is sure-handed with the puck.”
David St-Louis, Elite Prospects: “He’s really projectable as a wall player and net-front guy and he does play with relative aggression. I’m sure someone could teach him to lock it down defensively, too. I’m not sure he sees the whole ice or really understands how to create with his tools. There is a good chance that he ends up as this really toolsy player that fans expect a lot of, but never really puts it all together.”
J.D. Burke, Elite Prospects: “I don’t know that I would rate Honzek among the better skaters in this draft, but I’m consistently impressed by his small-area manoeuvrability for someone his size. He seems to get more deceptive with the puck in each viewing, too. His puck protection mechanics are already NHL-calibre, too. Looked like a mid-first-round pick to me.”
Rankings (per Elite Prospects) 
On average, Honzek is poised to be the 20th selection in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft: nine picks after the Canucks are set to select. Only Sportsnet and Daily Faceoff had Honzek as a front half pick in the first round of the draft. At the low end, Honzek is an early second round selection (in one scout’s opinion). The size and physicality is there, which lends itself well to his wall game, but much of Honzek’s other senses and skills, minus his shot, are just okay, which has him floating around the middle of the pack. His leg injury sustained during the world juniors also set him back over a month of playing time during a crucial start to this year. Because of the injury, Hanzek wasn’t able to compete in the WHL’s Top Prospect tournament for draft eligible players, which was held at the Langley Events Centre, of all places. Despite the injury, he’s rebounded well, and showed improvements in his skating. But scouts fear there’s not enough hockey sense there for him to drive play at the NHL level. 

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Conclusion 
You’re getting one thing for sure with Honzek: size. But everything else — shot, passing, hockey sense, skating — is largely subpar, and his upside is on the low side. A constant in Honzek’s game reports are inconsistent passes. He was referred to by scouts as a more “reactive” than anticipatory player. He’s a little late to pick up on defensive pressure, and therefore doesn’t have a well thought out plan b about how to safely pass off the puck to a teammate. Despite his size, Honzek doesn’t drive rushes at all. He does much of his work on the half-wall, receiving passes, cycling it down the boards, and taking shots and making plays on the flank as necessary. The weird thing about Honzek is that he’s skilled, but he “settles for low-percentage plays when he can steamroll his way to the inside.” Once again, leaving him vulnerable to defenders moving in on him from the side. Honek has the skill and size to be a top winger, but his lack of awareness leaves him susceptible to making suicide passes to teammates. He’s a good secondary contributor, but he’s just not exhibiting the gameplay of someone like Pettersson, who can make something for nothing. If he can’t anticipate plays and be proactive, his strength and size will be virtually useless in the NHL. Honzek’s good, but not good enough to be the Canucks 11th overall pick.
What would your reaction be if the Canucks ended up drafting Samuel Honzek? Let us know in the comment section below!

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