Did Samuel Honzek live up to expectations at the World Juniors?

Photo credit:Kevin Light/Vancouver Giants
Jeff Middleton
6 months ago
It has been five days since the World Junior Championship tournament came to an end, and it was full of surprises. Germany beat Finland for the first time in their history, then Latvia beat Germany a couple of days later. Finland beat Sweden in a shootout, who were previously undefeated and had not allowed a goal up to that point.
Then, in the medal rounds, Team Canada lost a heartbreaker to Team Czechia in the quarterfinal, and there was controversy in the Finland versus United States semifinal game that saw the United States come out on top.
To finish everything off, the United States took home the gold medal against the hometown team that came with some brawls and some “bad sportsmanship” (according to many) in an overall tightly contested game.
Here’s the big brawl that had everyone riled up:
Although I’m sure plenty of Flames fans had their eyes on the tournament as a whole, the main focus in the market was on Samuel Honzek and the performance of Team Slovakia, as he was the only representation for the Flames prospect pool this year.
After the first game of the tournament for Slovakia, I wrote an article here at FlamesNation about the kind of expectations to have for Honzek as the tournament progressed. So now, with plenty of time to digest Team Slovakia’s performance and Honzek’s as an individual, did he perform as well as he should have?
Looking at his overall production, Honzek played in five total games and registered four points, three of which were goals. Here they are in order:
Dec. 26 against Czechia:
Dec. 27 against Switzerland:
Dec. 29 against Norway:
It’s important to remember that Honzek had not played many games prior to this tournament due to injuries, so seeing him not score an absurd amount isn’t entirely surprising. However, despite the fact that he had not seen much game action prior to this best-on-best tournament, only four points in five games is a little bit underwhelming. In the article I referenced earlier, I said that a point per game should be the expectation (if not more). After that first game against Czechia, Honzek scored only two points, and they came against two not-as-strong teams in Switzerland and Norway, who ended up being relegated. Against the United States and Finland, he was completely quiet despite an adequate amount of ice time.
By the tournament’s end, Honzek was tied for second on Team Slovakia in goals and sixth on the team in points, with the highest total being nine in five games. For a player who will not be eligible to return for next year’s tournament, the expectation was probably higher than the results that we saw. However, there were some rather large caveats at play, and there were plenty of times when Honzek made smart plays or was in the right positions and didn’t get rewarded for it.
The good news is that Honzek made the correct choices on the ice for the most part. He was consistently at the front of the net, using his frame to open up passing lanes for his teammates or create scoring opportunities for himself and the defencemen at the point, and he was playing well through the neutral zone and in the defensive zone, too, which, despite the slightly underwhelming box score numbers, is a very good sign. So, while he may not have been a game-breaker at the World Juniors, it’s important to remember that five games aren’t even close to a big enough sample size to make judgments on a player, and even if the box score isn’t eye-opening, Honzek’s decision-making wasn’t a concern.
What did you see in Honzek’s game at the World Juniors? Did you think he had a good tournament? Let us know in the comments!

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