There are pretty much three categories a free agent European signing can fit into. The ideal is they turn into a star player, but it’s more likely they’ll either flare out or turn into a respectable, if average, guy.
We don’t yet know just what category Daniel Pribyl will fall into, but there’s reason to have hope for the 23-year-old who was first drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the sixth round, 168th overall, of the 2011 draft.
It’s that hope that sees Pribyl, in his first summer as a member of the Flames organization, come in at number nine on our list.
A brief history
Pribyl is listed at 6’3, 238 lbs – at least by EliteProspects. That may be a bit on the heavy side, but even if it’s incorrect, he’s still a fairly big, young dude coming over – who also so happens to play right wing.
Read more: Flames interested in Daniel Pribyl
He’s only played in the Czech Republic, is the thing here. Ever since he’s been on U18 teams, Pribyl has been in Prague, and hasn’t moved around much at all. The good news, though, is that since making the premier Czech league, his scoring has steadily increased with each passing year, culminating in the team scoring lead this past season, and second in the league overall. He may have been able to accomplish a similar feat in the post-season, had an ACL injury not cut his time short.
Read more: Flames officially sign Daniel Pribyl
It’s that ACL injury that’s probably going to see him to a bit of a slower start come the 2016-17 season as he finishes recovering and, then, adjusts to North American ice. But it’s that steady increase in scoring, combined with his size and youth, that provides fair reason to hope he’s one of those European free agents who makes it.
We haven’t had the chance to watch Pribyl; he wasn’t even able to skate at development camp. So really, any analysis we provide on him is secondary at best.
In that case, why not turn to the head coach of his former team of Sparta Praha, Josef Jandac?
His strengths: strong on the puck, skilled hands, plays along the boards, quick orientation and reaction in front of the net, screening the goalie, and is able to pick up the pace with a good pass.
He is a good team player; with him in our lineup we were always stronger, always creating chances and opportunities.
His weaknesses: the defensive zone, blocking shots, average back-checker, one timers, average skater, and his acceleration (first three steps).
His game is stronger in the offensive zone; frequent injuries held back his progression and development. He needs to feel the trust and support of his coach, and he repays that back on the ice.
Thank you so much, Coach Jandac!
To get greater perspective on why the Flames sought out Pribyl, we also talked to Ray Edwards, the Flames’ development coach. He told us Pribyl is currently rehabbing in Calgary, and is expected to be ready in early October, so he shouldn’t miss too much time.
“He has a really good ability to see the ice and find players. He sees open ice well, can find open people. Can play with some pace.
“He’s an offensive player that has really good offensive instincts, and he’s a bigger body. So you throw those things together and hope that there’s a player that can find a way.”
Edwards also told us Pribyl has a high hockey IQ. He’s projected as an offensive player, but the Flames do think he’s smart enough in terms of understanding situations that he’ll have some versatility on the ice.
What comes next?
Pribyl should challenge for a spot on the Flames, but due to his ACL injury, it may not happen right away. It isn’t necessarily a problem if he starts in Stockton, though; but hopefully, he’s good enough to play in the NHL sooner rather than later, and isn’t left to stagnate (as we have sometimes seen in the recent past).
The good news for Pribyl is there is very much a spot tailored for him on the Flames. He’s a big right winger with offensive instincts: that’s exactly what the team needs. Throw in the fact that his age group is right for the rebuild, and this is definitely a guy you hope works out: ideally in a top six situation, as it sounds like that’s what he’s slated for.
Not that all hope would be lost if his offence doesn’t translate, as the Flames think he can improve the defensive side of his game, too. But how awesome would it be to end up with a young top six forward for free?
|#20 – Ryan Culkin||#19 – Linus Lindstrom|
|#18 – Morgan Klimchuk||#17 – Mason McDonald|
|#16 – Brett Pollock||#15 – Matthew Phillips|
|#14 – Dillon Dube||#13 – Emile Poirier|
|#12 – Brett Kulak||#11 – Mark Jankowski|
|#10 – Brandon Hickey|