David Kase, the Flyers’ fifth-round pick (128th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft, is one of the exceptions. The player, who is signed with Czech Extraliga club Pirati Chomutov (KLH Chomutov) has chosen to honor his contract with his home club. Kase was selected by the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara IceDogs in the first round of the 2015 CHL Import Draft.
One year earlier, he was picked by the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the 2014 CHL Import Draft. Additionally, he was chosen by Russian team Avtomobilist Yekaterinaburg in the third round of the 2014 KHL Draft. He politely declined all three teams and remained at home instead with Chomutov.
It is not that Kase has no NHL ambitions. On the contrary, he attended the NHL Scouting Combine last year and also took part in the Flyers Annual Development camp in July. The young forward, who speaks limited English at this point, said that his goal is to someday play for the Flyers.
Teenage players such as Kase often face a dilemma in their home league. Kase has already proven himself too advanced to play in the Czech junior league, yet it is often difficult to find ice time at the Extraliga level. The alternative is to be loaned to a minor league (Division 1) team. While the caliber of competition at the Czech Division I level is not particularly high, it at least affords the young player a chance to play against grown men.
This season, Kase dressed in 30 Extraliga regular season games for the Chomutov senior team. As expected, he received limited ice time in a fourth line role, chipping in one goal and one assist. In order to get more playing time, Kase was loaned to Div. 1 team SK Kadan for 16 games. He produced eight goals, six assists and 14 points. Kase also dressed in one J20 (under-20 league) game for the Chomutov junior squad, registering an assist.
Listed at 5-foot-10 and 159 pounds last year, Kase is often one of the smallest players on the ice. What he lacks in size, however, he makes up for in competitive moxie, hockey sense and quickness.
“David plays a real honest game. He's a little pit bull; he just needs to get a little bigger. Right now, he's a pit bull in a poodle's body,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. “He plays and competes. He's just a dog out there, [meaning] he hounds the puck. The skill level is there. He is a smart player. He stays on the right side of the puck. He needs to get stronger. For where we got him in the draft and his upside, we're very happy. He's a great kid and he just loves to play the game.”
Kase, who turned 19 on Jan. 28, also has natural leadership abilities.
In 2014-15, he captained the Czech national Under-18 team at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships and also played in his first World Junior Championship. This season, he served as an alternate captain for the Czech squad at the 2015-16 IIHF Under-20 World Under Championships where he contributed one assist in five games but was one of his team’s most consistent overall performers.
“The one game I saw, he was outstanding,” Hextall said. “He didn't end up with a point but he was outstanding. He had three or four opportunities.”
On March 7, Chomutov began the Extraliga playoffs. Kase was in the lineup, skating 6:42 of ice time over 10 shifts. Chomutov defeated HC Komet Brno in overtime by a 3-2 score to take a one game to zero lead in the best-of-five series.
For more on Flyers prospects playing in the NCAA, junior and European hockey leagues see below…