The first subject of our draft targets series is Czech native Radek Faksa. Like Sven Baertschi last year, Faksa’s draft season was his first in North America after spending some time developing in various leagues on home soil. And, like Baertschi, his debut was a strong one: despite appearing in just 62 games, Faksa won the OHL rookie scoring race with 66, a full 13-points over second placed Connor Brown. He also placed third on the Kitchener Rangers in output, behind Michael Catenacci and Tobias Reider.
The counting numbers are good but not great. What makes Faksa an intriguing possibility is his strong scouting reports and apparent variety of skills.
According to Hockey Prospectus’ Corey Pronman, Faksa doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses:
Faksa is a pretty well-rounded player who…is notably strong at all areas of the game. He’s a solid to above-average skater with nice acceleration and who can get to a desirable top speed. Faksa’s puck skills are above-average as well and he’s certainly effective controlling the puck. He will show the ability to be a good puck distributer, though I have heard conflicting reports on this area of his game from scouts as some think he’s just solid and other think potentially high end…
Faksa shows very good dependability in the defensive end and scouts I’ve talked to rave about his defensive game which is high-end potentially and creates a lot of value when combined with his skill set. He can kill penalties effectively and has been regularly relied on to play high-leverage minutes in both ends. He also has no fear of getting involved with the physical game as he will battle hard in the corners, take his checks with the body, and drive the net with regularity.
Pronman ranks Faksa as the 10th best available prospect this year. I followed up with Corey about the kid and he noted that Faksa played in tough circumstances last year:
He will be a guy I think who advanced stats people will love. He got the tough/defensive minutes a lot in Kitchener and excelled at it while putting up the points. He’s a guy who I think can be a good top six scorer, while getting a ton of defensive zone starts and playing against tough opponents.
Because Faksa played in the OHL, I was able to go through and parse his seasonal output to determine where he was doing much of his scoring and to what degree he was contributing to Kitchener’s total offense.
- Total points: 66
- PPG: 1.06
- ES%: 61
- PP%: 33
- TEAM%: 28
Faksa wasn’t a huge driving force of the Ranger’s offense, couting on just 28% of the offense when he was in the line-up, however he did a majority of his damage at even strength, which is a good sign. Again, this is comparable to Sven Baertschi who was below 30% in terms of TEAM% in his rookie season, but scored a majority of his points at five-on-five that year.
Faksa also scored four short-handed points during the year and none of them came with an empty net, which somewhat confirms Corey’s assertion that the kid wasn’t just scoring easy baskets from the free throw line.
The only mark against Faksa I could dig up is nobody really believes he will be a dynamic, high-end scorer in the big leagues – his purported ceiling at this point is a capable, top-six player who can play against a variety of opponents.
The Flames haven’t been shy about procuring guys form the OHL over the last few years: Mat Pelech, TJ Brodie, Greg Nemisz, Chris Breen and Bryan Cameron all came to the org from that section of the CHL, so we know the team has a presence there. In addition, a lot fo arrows are pointing in the right direction for Faksa: he’s a big center (6’3", 203 pounds) who can play the game at both ends and who won the OHL rookie scoring race while taking on the tough sledding.
Possibility he will be available at 14:
Possibility Flames will pick him: Moderate-to-high