In August, we ranked Daniel Pribyl the ninth best prospect in the Flames system. We will probably not do the same this year.
Can you blame us for being excited? The Flames had found a 6’4″ right winger who finished second in Czech league scoring. Like they have been doing in the recent past (mostly with Czechs), the Flames brought in an impressive player, gave him AHL time to start, and hoped he would be an NHL piece by the end of the year. With a two-year deal and at age 23, he also stood to be a long-term move rather than a short-term piece. It didn’t work out the way everyone had hoped.
On the other hand, can you blame him? Pribyl had torn his ACL at the end of last year, and surgery ate up his entire preseason and precious adjustment time. He picked up an undisclosed injury, then a concussion immediately after, which ate up two months of the season, and another LBI which kept him out for the year. He wasn’t necessarily a world beater before these injuries, but their role in his season story cannot be underplayed. There was a lot of promise for Pribyl that had unfortunately been snuffed out by an injury-filled season.
The good news? That promise is still there.
Pribyl had been in the Sparta Prague system since he was 16, working his way up the ladder. At 17, he was scoring just about a point per game in the U18 league, and by 18, he reached and exceeded that same marker in the U20 league. This was in addition to his international work, where he was a standout for the Czech junior team (seven points in eight 2011 games). That interested the Montreal Canadiens, who drafted him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft.
The two sides never came to agreement, and Pribyl continued to ply his trade at the professional levels of Czech hockey. He appeared at the WJC in 2011, picking up one point in five games. The next season, he stayed on as a regular at Sparta Prague, scoring 22 points in 42 games. In the next few years, he steadily improved: 25 points in 46 games during 2013-14, 15 in 21 during 2014-15, and 45 in 45 during 2015-16. That interested the Calgary Flames, who signed him to a two-year deal that summer.
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Pribyl was a 2/3 winger for the majority of the season, but could be relied on as a source of primary offence. If you’re concerned about his volume, well…
I’ve marked out his injuries on the timeline. He was scoring with some regularity: 11 points in 19 games before injury #1 and he added one more in the one game he played before injury #2. After that? Three in 13 before injury #3 ended his season. It was hard to get back into the swing of things after his injuries, and it clearly showed.
One last time, we go to Brandon Kisker with the Stockton Heat. About Pribyl’s transition to North America and some of the positives in a mostly negative season:
Daniel is a bit more quiet and reserved than his fellow countryman David Rittich. His English though was superb and he’s such a great guy off the ice. I remember when I first saw him in camp here after he was allowed to skate, and while not every one of the Calgary cuts were made, I just remember thinking it was a man against boys situation. He’s really good around the boards and maintaining possession, especially for a guy who I wouldn’t say is overly physical. He’s got real soft hands too. We saw a few times this year where he was dominant, early on in San Diego he and Morgan Klimchuk had a tied record most for four points in a single game where they just both took over. However, you could just kind of tell his health was nagging at him, and when he came back, he was out there for one game before a Milwaukee Admiral lined him up and knocked him right back out of the lineup. Adjusting wasn’t the problem for Daniel, I think this year it was his health. Assuming he starts next year healthy, I think he could be a real nice find for the Flames.
Hoping he stays healthy, what can we expect from Pribyl next season?
He’s a talented player there is no question. I’m not ready to say at this point he’s first call-up or that he’d make the Flames out of camp, but neither of those things would be shocking to me. He’s played in a great league already and he showed enough to make you believe his skills can translate to North America if he can stay healthy.
There’s too much good in Pribyl to write him off right now.
His injuries ruined what was shaping up to be a great season for him. Given some rest and relaxation this offseason, he should be coming back strong for training camp. He’s got some stout competition (as detailed in previous wrap-ups) for what could amount to one or two spots. He’s got professional experience, size, age, and a right-handed shot, so he still does have a chance.
But if he doesn’t make the NHL this upcoming year, he’s probably going to head back to Europe. I imagine he didn’t come all the way over here to play in an AHL top six.
Ryan Lomberg, David Rittich, Hunter Smith, Jon Gillies, Andrew Mangiapane, Emile Poirier, Austin Carroll, Morgan Klimchuk, Mark Jankowski, Hunter Shinkaruk, Rasmus Andersson, Kenney Morrison, Tyler Wotherspoon, Oliver Kylington, Stepan Falkovsky, Keegan Kanzig/Mason McDonald, Ryan Culkin/Brett Pollock, Mitchell Mattson, Adam Fox, Brandon Hickey, Riley Bruce/Nick Schneider, Tyler Parsons, Eetu Tuulola, Matt Phillips, Dillon Dube, Adam Ollas Mattsson, Linus Lindstrom, Pavel Karnaukhov/Rushan Rafikov, Tim Harrison