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Joey Kenward: Ready for the next step

by Joey Kenward / Vancouver Canucks

While the majority of players attending this week’s Canucks Prospects Camp will be starting next season with their respective junior or college teams, there are a handful of skaters who are auditioning for spots as professionals.

In the case of Adam Polasek, his audition has been going very well ever since his first trip to Vancouver twelve months ago.

The Canucks drafted the hulking defenceman in the 5th round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (145th overall). Born and raised in the Czech Republic, the 6’3”, 200lbs. rear guard has spent the past two seasons playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the PEI Rocket.

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Joey Kenward is into his third season as the Canucks broadcaster/reporter for the Team 1040.

Follow Joey on Twitter: @kenwardskorner

“He has all the ingredients we like to see in a defenceman,” says Canucks Director of Player Development Dave Gagner. “In terms of his ability to read the play, he has the hockey sense to find the lanes and move the puck well.”

Just days away from celebrating his 20th birthday (July 12), Polasek has shown signs of perhaps becoming somewhat of a steal in the middle rounds of last year’s draft. In the last two seasons, he has collected a total of 80 points and has combined for 160 penalty minutes.

“He was really an unknown quantity as he had been passed by in the NHL Draft the year before,” adds Gagner. “That was surprising to us as we saw him play at the World Under-18 Championships and couldn’t believe he was available.”

While not having played for his county at the World Junior Championships, Polasek did have a strong performance at the 2009 World U18’s. In five games with the Czech Republic, he recorded two goals and three assists in five games.

Polasek is attending his second development camp with the Canucks. At the conclusion of his last season, one that saw him put up seven goals and 32 assists in Prince Edward Island, he was able to sign his first NHL contract with Vancouver and practice with the Manitoba Moose during their AHL playoff run.

“Right now, I know what I should expect,” says Polasek of attending this week’s camp at Rogers Arena. “Last year after being drafted, I went right to Prospects Camp. I am really full of excitement this year too.”

“The season started very well,” says Polasek. “The full season in P.E.I. was great, but we fell down in the first round of the playoffs. Right away after the last game, Vancouver called me and I flew to Winnipeg.”

There’s no doubt when you see Polasek in person, either on the ice or in regular clothes, the first thing you notice is his size. He’s big. But it’s more than just his size that impresses the Canucks.

“He’s really strong, deceptively so in terms of his skating,” says Gagner. “He has the ability to pull away from people on the fore-check.”

“His size really helps him fend off guys,” says Gagner. “Especially at the junior level, he was pretty mean along the wall. He’s another guy we’re pretty excited about as we’ve got a lot of good size at this camp, which was something we wanted to address.”

Polasek will conclude this week’s camp in Vancouver and return home to Europe for the next month in preparation for the Canucks Prospects Tournament in Penticton, B.C. September 11-15. He’s likely destined to start this coming season the Chicago Wolves, the Canucks new American Hockey League affiliate. And that’s fine by Polasek, who knows the challenges ahead as a player only get more difficult.

“For me, every year is important,” concludes Polasek. “This year I hope to start in a men’s league. I am so excited for it.”

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