Season 8 profile: Prague Sparta

pro Prague

Farm Club: MAC Budapest (Hungary) Budapest

GM: Peter Ott (5th GM in team’s history)

Coach: Paul MacLean (replaced Patrick Roy after Season 7; Roy replaced Dave Tippett)

Last season: 21st overall (out of the playoffs)

Ins and Outs (Season 7 to Season 8)

Out: Aleksander Barkov (trade), David Pastrnak (trade), Ryan Getzlaf (free agent), Andrei Kostitsyn (free agent), Giulio Scandella (free agent), Keaton Ellerby (free agent),

In: Brent Seabrook (free agent), James Neal (trade), Evgeny Kuznetsov (trade), Miro Heiskanen (draft), Michael Rasmussen (draft), Devin Shore (draft), Ryan Dzingel (draft)

 In Place  (Key players signed past Season 8)

Mark Scheiffele, C; David Pastrnak, RW; Alex Galchenyuk, LW; Nail Yakupov, LW; Torey Krug, D; Roman Josi, D 3qs   

 
Three Questions

1. Will we see a playoff game in Prague this season? Not sure about this season, but the future is jam-packed with playoff games for the Czech team. Tough competition in the Southern Conference is the biggest impediment to the playoffs this year, team defense is another, but Prague is definitely one of those up-and-coming teams in the EURO League. Management has concentrated on securing the six defenseman positions and they have done so mainly through the draft, so that requires patience on everyone’s part. In five of the last six drafts, Prague went with a defenseman first. The other first draft pick was goalie Calvin Pickard. So let’s look at the current Sparta D corps: Torey Krug, Dmitri Kulikov, Roman Josi, Justin Schultz (all in the 26-28 age range and already 80 OV or higher), old man Brent Seabrook (OV83), who is 33 and just signed as a free agent; and the kid – Vladimir Roth – who is 23 and OV 75. That’s one of the advantages to have a lot of young, capable players with entry-level salaries: you can afford to sign a Seabrook. This group of defensemen all like to join the rush. Coach Paul MacLean will want to stress defensive play, but until they gain more experience, they will be a little discombobulated in the defensive zone. Seabrook will help a lot in that regard. They gave up more goals than any other team last season and were third-worst in shots against. Until they float up to the middle of the pack in those stats, Prague will get early off seasons.

2. How do the forwards look? The offense-minded defensemen add a lot to the offense, which gives Prague’s forwards more time and space in the opponent’s end. The team can score goals, especially with the man advantage. They ranked third in the EURO in powerplay efficiency last season. Mark Scheiffele, 25, is the main weapon for Prague. He played in 82 games last season and led the team in points with 74, goals with 28, and shots with 228. He and three other Sparta forwards – linemates Martin Ruzicka and Alex Galchenyuk included – scored 20 or more goals. Nail Yakupov was perhaps the most impressive forward on the team last season. He played on the second line, scored 22 times and was plus 16 in turnover ratio. His -2 plus/minus rating was fourth best on the team among regulars. Marcus Johansson played 13 minutes per game at right wing and he led the team in plus/minus and was plus 20 in turnover ratio. Both Johansson and Yakupov are currently penciled in on the second line with J.T. Miller, a faceoff expert and a tireless forechecker.  That gives the team two talented forward lines, although both are a little light on experience. The other two lines and also young and they include promising newcomer Evgney Kuznetsov, who was acquired in a trade. The important thing for Prague fans to remember this season is that 11 of the 12 forwards in the lineup are future “superstars” with OV ratings of 80 or higher.

3. Who will be stopping pucks this year? The same guys who finished as Prague’s goalies last season: Ondrej Pavelec and Andrey Vasilevskiy. Those two guys didn’t smile a lot last year. Probably because their walrus-looking coach wasn’t smiling a lot. Pavelec’s save percentage was 88.2, which ranked him 26th in the league and their are only 24 teams. Vasilevskiy’s save percentage was worse, at 87.4. Those two guys have to do better if Prague is going to improve. Many are confident Vasilevskiy will improve. He’s basically the goalie of the future in the Czech Republic and he’s only 23 years old. You have to be patient with him and let him learn to play at this level. In three or four seasons, he will be backstopping a much better team because they will all be older and more experienced with their prime years just beginning. Pavelec is 31 and last season he was finally granted the starter job after playing very well as a backup to Frederik Anderssen in Geneva, and before that, as a backup in Belfast. Pavelec keeps himself in great shape, but he had trouble playing Prague’s style of hockey last season. Fans hope he will adjust to the wide open game and maybe Seabrook will give him more help in front of the net than he was getting last season.

History

PRAGUE DIVISION 2013

Season                 Place        PTS        PP %      PK %      SPG        SAPG     GPG     GAPG    PIM

Season 7               21         66      20.8    79.8   25.87   33.18   3.11   4.10    8.67

Season 6              16          78      17.3    77.2   27.04   31.60   3.18    3.54   9.28

Season 5              16           81     21.6    72.9   31.37    30.41    3.40   3.68   5.52

Season 4              19          72    18.5    77.3   29.63    30.82   3.22    4.01     9.16

Season 3              23          61    13.4    79.6   26.28    32.96   2.89    4.18    11.18

Season 2              22         70  19.4    79.6    28.60    31.20    3.33    3.77    10.49

Season 1              6          103   19.9    78.4    31.63    29.35    3.89    3.21    8.24

Top Draft picks

Season 1: Zach Parise, LW, current age 34. Games played: 560; points: 584; -185

Season 2: Nail Yakupov, LW, age 25. GP 468, Pts. 251, +39

Season 3: Justin Schultz, D, age 27. GP 405, Pts 214, -118

Season 4: Torey Krug, D, age 26. GP 322, Pts 128, -63

Season 5: Vladimir Roth, D, 23. GP 144, Pts  33, -15

Season 6: Calvin Pickard, G, age 24. GP 102, Save Pct 89.3

Season 7: Mikhail Sergachev, D, age 19

Season 8: Miro Heiskanen, D, age 18.

Trade History

Season 2

Traded Nicklas Kronwall to Athens for Michal Rozsival and 2014 Round 1 pick (used to pick Justin Schultz)

Traded Nicklas Grossman and 2015 Round 3 pick to Minsk for Andrej Sekera

Traded P-A Parenteau to Oslo for Thomas Vanek

Traded Thomas Vanek and Mike Weaver to Geneva for Justin Williams, Ryan Malone and Jeff Woywitka

Traded Jared Spurgeon to Frankfurt for Josh Gorges

Traded Michal Rozsival and Kyle Palmeiri to Athens for Jared Spurgeon and Nick Johnson

Traded Michael Ryder to Athens for Marcel Hossa

Traded Chad Larose and 2015 Round 2 pick to Milan for Saku Koivu

Traded Joel Armia to Athens for Mark Scheifele

Season 3

Traded Zach Parise to Minsk for Alexander Galchenyuk and Romas Josi

Season 4  

Season 5

Season 6

After Season 6 started: Traded Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Berlin for David Pastrnak and 2018 Round 1 pick (Dennis Cholowski)

Traded Bryan Little to Stockholm for Marcus Johansson

Traded Tomas Jurco to Stockholm for J.T. Miller and Connor Bleackley

Signed Tomas Plekanec (free agent)

Season 7

Traded Calvin Pickard to Berlin for Aleksander Barkov

Traded Andrey Bykov to Berlin for 2020 Round 1 (Stockholm’s) pick and 2021 Round 3 pick

Traded Niko Hovinen to Belfast for Andrey Vasilevskiy, Julius Nattinen, 2019 Round 1 pick and 2020 Round 3 (Lisbon’s) pick

After season started: claimed Trevor Daley (waivers)

Season 8 

Traded Aleksander Barkov to Berlin for Evgeny Kuznetsov and Klim Kostin

Traded David Pastrnak to Belfast for James Neal, Michael Dal Colle, Robert Thomas, 2021 Round 1 pick, 2022 Round 1 pick and 2021 Round 2 pick

 

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