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2011 NHL Entry Draft
2011 NHL Entry Draft Hats
Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final

Top prospect Musil brings brains and skill to position

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Entry Draft

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

David Musil has had quite the whirlwind hockey life so far. Born in Calgary, raised in the Czech Republic, now he's playing junior hockey in Vancouver.
 
Anywhere he's been, however, he's always had hockey to keep him going. While the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants might be his current stop, his next one likely will be with an NHL team.
 
Musil, a 6-foot-3, 198-pound defenseman, is No. 26 on NHL Central Scouting's ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft.
 
"David is a big, strong defenseman that's just a great two-way defenseman," an NHL scout from a Western Conference team told NHL.com. "He's hard to play against because his positioning is very sound, very solid. Good stick. He's a competitive guy that really works at his game. He has a great first pass. He can make the long pass, the short pass. He's very good on the offensive point on the power play, moves across the line well, keeps his head up, his shoulders are ready to shoot or pass. He doesn't have those extra movements. He's very smart."
 
With 4 goals and 22 points in 46 games, he's proven to be more than capable at the offensive end.
 

What's not as easy to see on the back of his hockey card is the high hockey IQ Musil carries onto the ice with him every shift.
 
A great deal of that comes from Musil's family.
His father, Frantisek, had 34 goals and 1,241 penalty minutes in 14 NHL seasons as a defenseman with the North Stars, Flames, Senators and Oilers. His uncle is two-time Stanley Cup champion Bobby Holik, and his grandfather, Jaroslav Holik, was a long-time player and coach in the Czech Republic.
 
Not be left out is his mom, Andrea, who was a top tennis player, winning the girls singles title at Wimbledon in 1985 and helping then-Czechoslovakia win the Federation Cup that same year.
 
"He's from a sporting family," Vancouver coach Don Hay told NHL.com. "His mom was a real top tennis player, played at Wimbledon. His dad played in the National Hockey League, his uncle played in the National Hockey League ... he grew up a coach's son. Frank coached him when he was younger. He's been coached to have good fundamentals and how to think the game and that's one of his strongest suits."
 
The best examples of those smarts come in David's defensive play. While he has the size to bang with the best of them, he's smart enough to know when and where to pick his spots.
 
"David really plays under control," Hay said. "He plays composed. He doesn't take a lot of needless penalties (50 penalty minutes). But he doesn't back down. He plays physical in a way that he's always in people's faces. He's not banging people against the wall. But his gap and his play in the corners, in front of the net, makes him hard to play against, because he's always around you. That's the way he plays his physical style of hockey.
 
"It's really hard to play against him because he's always in position or his stick is in your way. He makes it very tough for the puck carrier in our zone to make plays."
 
"I don't mind hitting," said Musil. "It's part of the job. It's not that I don't like it, but it's not like, 'Yeah it's awesome.'"
 
Don't for a second take Musil for a pacifist.

At the 2011 Top Prospects Game, he didn't hesitate to drop his gloves with Team Cherry defenseman Duncan Siemens when the burly Saskatoon Blades defenseman was pushing around some of Musil's Team Orr teammates.
 
"I saw him challenging a couple of guys and he challenged the whole bench," Musil told NHL.com. "I saw him going after (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins, so I thought I should just jump in. I didn't really think about it too much ... it was kind of fun, actually. We threw some punches and exchanged a few kind words."
 
"It was a great show of teamwork there," Nugent-Hopkins said. "(Sven) Baertschi was getting cross-checked in the head and I kind of just stepped in to separate the two. Musil saw that happen and he kind of just stepped in."
 
Hay said that's the kind of teammate Musil is.
 
"I was a little bit surprised to see him fight in that environment," said Hay, "but somebody was abusing one of his teammates and David is a real good teammate. He'll stand up for anybody."
 
Hay would like to see Musil bring that same level of assertiveness to the offensive end. Musil sees a good amount of time on the Giants' power play and Hay would like him to shoot more.
 
"He's in a role where we want him to shoot the puck," said Hay. "He's getting more and more comfortable in that position."
 
"He does not have an overpowering shot," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com, "but what he does do well is get the shot through and on net for rebounds." 
 
It's all part of Musil's continued development. He had moved home to the Czech Republic after his father's hockey career ended and while he excelled in Czech junior league, he knew there was a better level of competition in Canada.
 
"I had offers to play in Czech, but I went to (2009 World) Under-18s, and it was eye opening playing against the best 18-year-old players," said Musil. "I saw the competition here in Canada and I said I wanted to try it one year. I played here (last) year and I decided to play here and I'm glad for the decision."
 

"I had offers to play in Czech, but I went to (2009 World) Under-18s, and it was eye opening playing against the best 18-year-old players. I saw the competition here in Canada and I said I wanted to try it one year. I played here (last) year and I decided to play here and I'm glad for the decision."
-- David Musil

In just a season and a half, he's already matured into Vancouver's best defenseman, something that came into view earlier this season. When he missed a month with a broken foot, the Giants won just three of 10 games without him. They then won 10 of 13 games when he returned Jan. 7.
 
"He anchors their defense," said MacDonald. "When he was out with an injury, they really, really missed him back there. ... His overall game is very solid. A lot of scouts are worried about his skating. He is not the smoothest skater, but he gets the job done. He rarely gets beat, and his 1-on-1's are solid. He always makes that first good outlet pass and on the tape. He has a short stride for a big guy but should improve.
 
"He is learning to use his size better and is establishing much better inside position and boxing out opposing forwards. He is a very consistent and a reliable defenseman."
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com or follow him on Twitter @NHLAdamK