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Czech blueliner Dominik Badinka is a first-round dark horse in the 2024 NHL Draft

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Photo credit:courtesy Malmo Redhawks
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
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Dominik Badinka has had a very odd past three seasons.
In the past three years, he’s played in three different hockey organizations, in three different countries. He’s made his debut in pro hockey. He’s played in three different countries’ top junior leagues and found ways to adapt and thrive. He’s quietly built some buzz in NHL scouting circles, to the point where he could find his way into the first round of the 2024 class.

Scouting report

A product of Chomutov, Czechia, Badinka is a November 2005 birthday – making him one of the older first-time eligible players in the 2024 class. He’s a right shot defenceman listed at 6’3″ and 190 pounds.
Badinka worked his way up through his local club, Pirati Chomutov. By 2021-22, his 16-year-old season, he had reached both Czechia’s top under-20 league and played his first pro games in Czechia’s fourth division. Looking for a challenge, he left home. First, he spent his 17-year-old season with Jokerit’s under-20 team in Finland’s top junior league. Then, he moved onto Sweden and the Malmo Redhawks, where he split the 2023-24 season – his 18-year-old campaign – between the top Swedish junior league and played roughly two-thirds of the season in the Swedish Hockey League, Sweden’s top pro league.
If nothing else, Badinka has shown himself to be a very ambitious, adaptable hockey player, who’s found ways to thrive in several of Europe’s most challenging leagues as a teenager.
Sebastian High of Dobber Prospects penned this scouting report in February:
Badinka is my pick for the likely late riser in this draft class, as his type of profile and toolkit rarely goes overlooked among NHL teams. He’s very mobile, composed under pressure, and a consistently capable breakout passer. He uses his aggression, scanning, and physicality in tandem with his mobility to effectively defend the rush and the slot at the SHL level. His handling remains quite limited (3.5-grade tool) which limits his on-puck offense, but his fluid off-puck rotations in the offensive zone help create space, time, and defensive confusion. His game exudes maturity, which has been routinely tested by SHL competition; he keeps the simple and effective play in his back pocket while scanning for more dangerous options, making his fall-back option a consistently smart one. Some tool refinement will be needed for Badinka to project as a clear top 4 talent in the NHL, but he already possesses many important building blocks for a modern meat-and-potatoes defenseman.
Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis provided this rundown as part of his rankings back in May:
Badinka has a great frame and solid hockey sense, and he doesn’t crumble under pressure. A defenseman who moves well and doesn’t get flustered with the puck when getting chased will have a good career. If he can add some extra top speed, he’ll be golden because he’s got the own-zone play figured out.
Does Badinka have high-end offensive talent? It’s unclear. He’s definitely got a lot of really valuable tools, though, and he’s shown the ability to adapt to some tough leagues in one of the tougher positions to do that in: the blueline.

The numbers

Badinka had two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 17 games in the J20 Nationell. On a per-game basis, he was fourth in points among first-time draft eligible blueliners, trailing only Noel Fransen, Leo Sahlin Wallenius and Alfons Freij.
He also had one goal and three assists for four points in 33 games in the SHL. He was the only first-time draft eligible defenceman to play more than 10 games in that league.

Availability and fit

Badinka is a right shot blueliner with size, the ability to defend, and that’s shown the ability to figure out new circumstances pretty rapidly – few players have the ability to play in three different countries in three seasons. His offensive game could be seen as untapped potential for some clubs, but at the very least you look at the tools he has shown and can imagine him figuring out the North American game fairly quickly. Every organization needs smart, adaptable people.
In terms of availability, Badinka is part of that group of players that could go in the late first round, or could spill over into the second round. Dobber Prospects, McKeen’s Hockey and The Hockey News all have him as a late first-round talent, while everybody else effectively have him as a second-rounder. Whether he lands in the first round or not probably depends on how the rest of that round unfolds and whether a drafting team can afford to take a bit of a gamble on his offensive game further developing.
Either way, we wouldn’t anticipate him slipping too far into the second round. If the Flames pass on him at 28th overall, he may not still be there when they select in the second round.

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